AVB wary of 'tremendous' Suarez

  • Last Updated: March 9 2013, 13:30 GMT

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas believes Liverpool have been carried by the superb form of Luis Suarez this season.

Luis Suarez: Has impressed Andre Villas-Boas
Luis Suarez: Has impressed Andre Villas-Boas

Villas-Boas knows the chances of extending Spurs' run of 12 unbeaten Barclays Premier League matches will largely depend on whether they can shackle Liverpool's prolific hitman when the teams meet on Sunday.

Liverpool are 10 points off the Champions League places, but they would be far worse off had they been without their Uruguayan striker, who tops the scoring charts with 28 goals in 38 games in all competitions.

Although Villas-Boas has his own prolific talisman in Gareth Bale, the Portuguese knows how important Suarez will be to the outcome of Sunday's clash on Merseyside.

"He is a tremendous player. He is making the difference," said Villas-Boas. "(He is) a top player and is taking almost the team on his shoulders with his goal-scoring ability.

"He is someone we must be wary of. He had a tremendous game at White Hart Lane and we have to be careful with his strengths."

Along with Manchester United's Robin van Persie, Bale and Suarez are the leading contenders for the PFA Player of the Year award, which is announced next month.

As has been the case with Liverpool and Suarez, Bale's superb efforts this year have led to claims that Spurs are overly-reliant on their star forward, who has scored 21 goals.

Tottenham's former Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Friedel denies that is the case, though.

"That's ridiculous. That's a poor comment," said an angry Friedel, who spent three years at Liverpool when he first came to England.

"Gareth is an exceptional player and we have a lot of exceptional players.

"These comments about one-man teams... I mean, people talk about if Barcelona didn't have Lionel Messi they wouldn't have 40 goals but they do have Messi and they get the 40 goals.

"Real Madrid have Cristiano Ronaldo. We have Gareth Bale. If Chicago Bulls didn't have Michael Jordan they wouldn't have won all those championships, but they did so they won.

"Every good team has their star players. Gareth is playing well for us. We are a better team for it, but we have some exceptional players that can step in and do the job."

Tottenham will face arguably the toughest test of their recent run against Liverpool, who have recorded comprehensive wins over Wigan, Zenit St Petersburg and Swansea in their last three games.

But Villas-Boas is motivated by the fact that another win will put his team 10 points ahead of fifth-place Arsenal, who do not have a game this weekend.

"Sometimes if you win you can put a bit more pressure on them even though they will have a game in hand," the Spurs boss said.

"I think we can put ourselves in a good position if we win there but we understand it is going to be a massive, massive game."

Some pundits insists Spurs should be looking up, rather than down, after their recent form.

Victory would move the Londoners to within two points of second-placed Manchester City, but Villas-Boas is not getting ahead of himself.

He added: "At the moment we are more worried about building a greater distance to Arsenal, who are fifth. That is our ultimate objective.

"If we can open that gap further it will help us over the last nine games, but we don't worry too much about second.

"It would be excellent (to finish second), obviously, but Man City still believe they are playing for he title.

"We aren't playing for the title, we are playing for Champions League qualification and we just want to get it one way or the other."

Villas-Boas will give Aaron Lennon a fitness test before deciding whether he has overcome the hamstring injury he suffered in Thursday's 3-0 win over Inter Milan.


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