After the 6-0 thrashing away to Manchester City, André Villas-Boas significantly adjusted his strategy for the subsequent match, a 2-2 draw with Manchester United. His side played much deeper, with the midfielders protecting the defence keenly – Tottenham invited pressure, but denied space in behind and between the lines. Consequently, the defence was penetrated much less frequently.
The strategy for this match, however, was a bizarre return to Villas-Boas's favoured high defensive line, which played perfectly into the hands of Luis Suárez and Liverpool. Villas-Boas has significant injury problems in defence, and Étienne Capoue and Michael Dawson is clearly not an ideal partnership. From an early stage it was clear they had no relationship together – they stepped up to play offside at different times, Capoue was never in a covering position when Dawson was bypassed, and Suárez was pulling both out of position. The centre-backs desperately needed protection, as Liverpool continually raced past them at will.
Liverpool's build-up play was occasionally superb, but when a simple long clearance from Martin Skrtel brought Hugo Lloris out of his penalty box and created a chance for Suárez, the extent of Spurs' problems became clear.
Suárez is the ideal striker to work the channels and break in behind, while Jordan Henderson's boundless energy also contributed – he made untracked runs in behind the defence for the first three goals, and encouraged Liverpool to play directly, important considering the cautious nature of Lucas Leiva and Joe Allen. Raheem Sterling continually took on Kyle Naughton down the outside, while Philippe Coutinho tucked inside to play simple passes.
It was astonishingly easy for Liverpool. The similarity to Spurs' previous thrashing is striking, and the fact Villas-Boas actively decided to return to the strategy that failed at City is a damning indictment of his tactical acumen.