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Liverpool Vs Tottenham Preview: Brendan Rodgers And André Villas-Boas' Drastic Fortunes

08/03/2013 15:21 GMT

They are two of the youngest managers in the Premier League and they have experienced two drastic seasons with two clubs. André Villas-Boas and Brendan Rodgers entered English football's top tier subconscious at the same time last season and have already incurred the perks and pitfalls of the industry.

Clive Tyldesley had the gall to remark, during Tottenham's Europa League evisceration of Internazionale, "It looks like Andre Villas-Boas really has worked out this management lark in the last year." Villas-Boas, before he succumbed to the preening player powers at Chelsea, had won the Europa League with FC Porto in 2011 - as well as the Portuguese Primeira Liga. Like Fabio Capello, he has suffered from English football's infamous jingoism, bordering on xenophobia. He did handle the media poorly at Chelsea, but he returned to Stamford Bridge at just 33-years-old and had the added burden of dealing with the dressing room prima donnas.

Sacked a year ago by Roman Abramovich, Brendan Rodgers was at that time carving out an auspicious reputation at Swansea as his 'philosophy' attracted plaudits. They would eventually finish 11th - just five points behind Liverpool - and with Kenny Dalglish sounding as jurassic as Richard Keys and as eccentric as Brian Clough, the 39-year-old Rodgers appeared to offer innovative impetus.

brendan rodgers andre villas boas

Villas-Boas got the better of Rodgers in the reverse fixture

“It is great for the public here at Sunderland to see us,” he said after a 2-0 defeat at the Stadium of Light with Swansea. “They must have been wondering what this team everyone is talking about are all about and now they have seen. We were wonderful."

Largely disregarded at the time, the aforementioned quote is now supported by some truly ludicrous snippets from the Ulsterman during his brief tenure at Anfield. A 2-0 defeat away at Zenit St Petersburg was a "near-on perfect performance" and, most recently, "You can live without water for so many days, but you can't live a second without hope." His turn Being: Liverpool, with narcissistic canvases and envelopes, set the tone.

Rodgers' slow slide down the managerial ladder has matched that of his team. Both have their merits - Liverpool have played some attractive football this season while the £12m gamble on Daniel Sturridge has paid immediate dividends - but it is arguable whether the matrimony is right for both parties. The Reds' sole victory against a top-half-of-the-table team was the 5-0 demolition of Swansea, planning ahead of the League Cup final by resting half their team.

Villas-Boas meanwhile has shrugged off his chastening Chelsea spell to leapfrog the Blues with Tottenham. Inter may now be as prone to collapses as Gareth Bale, but the humiliation Spurs inflicted upon them on Thursday is testament to how continentally-savvy they have become under their Portuguese coach, away from the less sophisticated Harry Redknapp. The north London victory versus Arsenal was unconvincing, but they are the superior force in that part of town and, providing they don't suffer Typical Spurs Syndrome, should secure a Champions League berth.

Although he will be loathe to admit it until it is mathematically impossible, the top four is beyond Rodgers' Liverpool, but preparation for re-entering that stratosphere begins against a top four team in Spurs this Sunday.

gareth bale

Gareth Bale scored past Liverpool in Spurs' 2-1 win in December

The first of their final 10 games in Rodgers' debut campaign on L4, Tottenham are perhaps the strongest team Liverpool will face between now and May. It is an opportunity, amid relatively relaxing circumstances, for Liverpool to express themselves and for Rodgers to envisage how they may start the 2013-14 term. Sturridge is fit to join the inspirational Luis Suárez for a partnership which has displayed signs of promise against Arsenal and Manchester City already while it is something of a belated audition for other starters.

Tottenham don't have the luxury of relaxing. Seven points ahead of Arsenal, they will be mindful of the 10-point lead the Gunners overturned last year - as well as when Chelsea pinched their Champions League status with victory in Munich. Their record at Anfield in the Premier League era is wretched (two wins in 20) and they were inferior during last season's goalless draw.

Chelsea are breathing down their necks, but Spurs can ease away from the cold breath as the Blues fight out an FA Cup quarter-final with Manchester United down the East Lancs Road. Just like a year ago and just like at Arsenal, turmoil has engulfed that club, which should hearten the stable Spurs' chances of widening the gap to five points this weekend.