We probably all did it this week. Woke up, took a look out of the window at the winter wonderland on show and shrank back into the safety and warmth of the covers.
Maybe you made into work, maybe you did not – this column is not here to judge – but one man who certainly did was Fernando Torres, the steely Spaniard who is fighting to be fit to fire Liverpool back to their former glories, snow or no snow. As if the forward couldn’t go up any further in the estimations of Reds’ supporters, this week he revealed that he regularly stays behind for extra work at Liverpool’s Melwood training complex in a bid to beat the troublesome groin problem that has plagued his (and by association his club’s) campaign. Torres is targeting glory on both a team and personal level during this campaign, and with plenty more Liverpool goalscoring records in his sights. The importance to a club that he so clearly loves seems to become more apparent with each passing week. Neither club nor player would seem to want it any other way. “I need to keep working three, four or five hours more than the rest of the squad because I need to keep recovering for the rest of the season,” said the refreshingly humble forward, “one of the reasons I’m working really hard is because I know in this situation Liverpool need every player fit. I am just doing my job.”
His job will be to score the goals that can see off Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on Sunday, providing that the wintry conditions don’t win the day. The clash brings together two of the most famous English footballing institutions, but it is the Londoners who have drawn the more plaudits this season. Harry Redknapp’s expensively assembled squad – which includes two former Liverpool strikers in Robbie Keane and Peter Crouch – arrive in the North West on the back of some impressive displays this season. Spurs are still just four points ahead of their hosts, who have been everybody’s favourite team to poke fun at during this campaign. Victory for the Reds on Sunday would put them within touching distance of a top four spot, an excellent base camp from which to plot a renewed assault on consistency, quality and confidence. Liverpool have had so many ‘must win games’ in the past few months that it is difficult to remember them all. A win here could stick in the memory for a long time to come.
Torres could be helped out in trying to achieve that win by his old Atletico Madrid team-mate Maxi Rodriguez, who at the time of writing is ‘on the verge’ of a welcome move to the Reds (a verge he’s been sitting on for some time). Should the transfer go through in time for Sunday’s clash, then the home crowd will see a player who’s not afraid to take chances, who can make powerful runs into the box and score goals. He did just that on his last visit to Anfield, when he put the Spanish side ahead in last season’s 1-1 Champions League draw. The Argentinean will provide competition for Dirk Kuyt down Liverpool’s right flank, and – as the Dutchman would be the first to admit that he hasn’t had the most impressive of seasons this time around – Rodriguez could be making an impact on the Liverpool team sooner rather than later. The winger is more than likely to be the only major arrival during this winter’s transfer window though, with money from player sales going towards chipping off mounting club debts. A loan signing could still be a distinct possibility, especially with worrying reports over the severity of Glen Johnson’s knee injury refusing to go away.
Putting acquisitions to one side, there are unlikely to be many unfamiliar faces in the team that Rafael Benitez sends out into the cold Anfield air on Sunday. The importance of a victory over a club that – due to their expenditure and impressive recent performance – have to be regarded as a main rival, simply cannot be overstated. The workaholic Torres is ready to shoot down Spurs. He’ll be hoping that his team-mates will follow his lead.