Thursday, 15 September 2011
Tottenham v Liverpool: a litmus test match
It's straightforward enough: we're not as good as Man Utd or Man City, we're better than Wolves, but are we as good as Liverpool?
It's what pundits call 'a litmus test', I believe. It certainly was in 2009/10 when we beat them in blazing sunshine on the opening day and went on to finish fourth. We were, simply, better than them - that day and that season.
Same last year, when we smash and grabbed the points at the Lane with a late Lennon winner and then put in a fantastically professional performance at Anfield to complete the double. Again, we were just better than them. And finished above them. It was starting to feel quite natural.
For those of us who first started following football in the '70s or '80s, this was quite something. A psychological breakthrough of mammoth proportions. Liverpool were Man Utd before Man Utd were Man Utd: virtually unbeatable, relentlessly successful, and a fixture you more or less wrote off - home and away.
To be demonstrably better and regularly above them was some going - even if their decline played as much a part as our rise.
The consensus now seems to be that Liverpool are 'back'. Certainly Kenny Dalglish is back - and the media love him, especially in harness with "his beloved Liverpool", blah, blah, blah.
Yet they've had a stuttering start (all things are relative: if there's has been stuttering, ours has been more or less mute).
Their most impressive result was a 0-2 win at The Emirates, but that's subsequently been dimmed by context. It's like hearing someone's shagged Brigitte Bardot - and then finding out it was last week.
(For a second there I just had to check to make sure the Woman that God Created hadn't died. But then I thought, well, the point would still stand, right?)
Apart from that they've lost to Stoke, beaten Bolton and drawn with Sunderland. Ho fucking hum.
And their recruitment campaign has seen them fill their ranks with players from poor teams who certainly didn't frighten us last year: Henderson, Adam, Enrique, Downing, Carroll. Quake ye not, mighty Spurs, they wear red shirts but they are beige players.
So, Parker and Modric to continue in midfield, Adebayor and Defoe to be given a chance to form an actual partnership up front, Ledley and whoever's fit at the back.
It's taken most of my life for Spurs to become better than Liverpool, let's not throw it away in an afternoon.