Stopping the SAS

 

The motto of the Special Air Service is “who dares wins” – not that different from our very own  THFC motto “to dare is to do”.

This weekend we have the opportunity to show that to dare is better than simply daring as we take on Liverpool´s own version of the SAS – Suarez and Sturridge – who are in danger of becoming the most fearsome striking partnership ever seen in the short history of the Premier League.

That they will surely surpass the achievements of that other SAS partnership – Shearer and Sutton – only goes to show what we are up against on Sunday afternoon.

So how do we stop Suarez and Sturridge – not to mention any of the other scousers we face?

Quite simply we cut the supply line. Taking the military theme a little further, no forward troops can perform at their peak unless they get supplied from the rear. We need to stop the ball from reaching them. And that means packing central midfield with strong defensive players – Sandro Raniere for example.

If we go out with our current defensive unit of Naughton, Kaboul, Vertonghen, and Rose – as seems very likely – and play a high line trying to catch them offside, we are simply asking for trouble.

Against Southampton last week, it worked as we caught them offside a dozen times, simply because Rodrigues and Llanana – whilst quick – are not super quick. Suarez and Sturridge are super quick.

Even with the high line working effectively we conceded two silly goals from two silly defensive errors, both from Naughton. Firstly he didn’t challenge a high bouncing ball and then miscontrolled when just outside his area. This has to stop.

Against Southampton we were punished only twice. If we do the same again we will be punished time and time again. Just as we were against Liverpool in December, just as we were in both games against Citeh. We need to cut out all defensive errors.

Our defenders need to understand one simple principle. When the ball is at their feet and they are under pressure, the best action is to get the ball as far away as possible. Even if that means putting it out of play deep in the opposition’s half. Not pretty, I agree, but effective. Do not under any circumstances play it back to Lloris and put him under even more pressure to clear.

But back to cutting off the supply line. That supply, with Liverpool, starts and frequently ends with Gerrard. Dominate him and we dominate the game. That has to be the role of one of our more forward players, not Sandro, who has to be tasked with closing down on those attacking players, on intercepting and destroying.

If any opposition player needs to be man-marked out of the game, then it has to be current England and Liverpool captain Stevie Gerrard. Let him dictate the game, control the pace and we are doomed.

So, the big question. Who is up for the role?

No point in giving the role to players like Eriksen, Lennon or Townsend, they are simply not good enough at that part of the game. Dembele, and Paulinho could, but again their role is more of an attacking nature. If only Capuoe were fully fit, he just might be the key man to counter the threat, but sadly he looks as if he will miss out, which leaves the youngest member of the squad – Bentaleb – as the only person capable.

I am yet to be convinced that the young Algerian is good enough for a place in our squad next season, let alone a place on the team sheet week in week out, but if he is tasked with marking Stevie Gerrard out of the game and succeeds, I may well be convinced.

If, and it is a huge, huge IF, we can stop the supply line, cut out the through balls, we might, just might, spring a surprise. Stop them from scoring, get them anxious, worried even, and catch them on the break.

We may well go into the game with six or even seven defensive outfield players, and only three or four attackers, but we have to hope that they can capitalise on the only weak spot in the entire Liverpool team. They are poor defensively, seriously poor.

If Cardiff can score against them twice last weekend, and Sunderland put them under pressure as they did in midweek, there is hope, but first we must counter the threat, nullify their midfield general and then use our offensive assets to best effect.

Maybe, just maybe, we can dare to dream. Maybe we can dare. Dare to do!

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