During the festive period, Liverpool face by far their toughest run of games in the season. Tottenham Hotspur on December 15th is followed by trips to Manchester City on Boxing Day and Chelsea two days later.

Daniel Sturridge will be very much missed for the Reds.

Joining from Chelsea in January, he's scored 22 goals during his time at Anfield.

He's been a key figure in Liverpool's success, scoring some vital goals - such as his last minute equaliser against Everton.

It looks set that Raheem Sterling will again replace Sturridge.

Although a good prospect, the nineteen year old has a lot to live up to.

He's expected to fill the boots of arguably Liverpool's best player in 2013. 

Sterling's performance against Hull was extremely poor.

This was due to his lack of confidence. Summer signings like Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto were being picked ahead of him and it must have been both frustrating and confidence draining on the youngster.

When Sterling first emerged into the Liverpool side, he was being picked reguarly and playing good football.

Now it seems that his head has been left in a mess due to the new signings and lack of playing time.

To ask a 19-year-old to fill the boots of Liverpool's second top goalscorer is already a bit much, but to do it in such a hard string of games is even worse. 

As difficult as they were in the first place, it was already known they would be missing striker Daniel Sturridge, who is out for a number of weeks with an ankle injury.

Then last Saturday during the Reds' 4-1 victory over West Ham, they saw captain Steven Gerrard limp off holding his hamstring.

Although it looked like the substitution was precautionary, it come to light the Liverpool captain would miss up to six weeks of football.

Gerrard has been an inspiration for Liverpool fans throughout his time at Anfield.

Although in the twilight years of his career, the captain still offers a lot on the pitch.

More importantly, he has experience that the new Liverpool youth thrive off.

Gerrard has taken players like Lucas and Jordan Henderson who didn't start off well, and turned them into much more confident players.

The Reds captain is the soul survivor of Liverpool's Champions League winning side.

When Liverpool were qualifying for the Champions League every season, the England captain was as inspirational then as he was now.

Back then, he was everything you look for in a midfielder - he scored goals, threw last ditch challenges in and hit some beautiful balls that split defences. 

Now 34, Gerrard can no longer get up and down like he used to. 

However, he still offers more than enough to the Liverpool side. His experience on the ball is going nowhere. 

His presence too boosts the confidence of many of the Liverpool's youngsters.

Jordan Henderson joined Liverpool in 2011, but failed to adapt to life at a bigger club.

This season especially, Henderson seems a lot more confident.

Dalglish threw the former England U21 captain in at the deep end and tried to make him play the 'Gerrard role.' His potential was not up to this, and he looked well out of his depth.

Since Gerrard's return to the side, Henderson has looked much more like his former self.

Playing in a midfield three, the former Sunderland man is able to get forward more to create chances and score goals.

Lucas too has improved in the last two seasons. With Gerrard sitting deeper and there being three up top, the Brazilian looks a lot more relaxed.

Having such an inspirational figure like Gerrard playing alongside you takes a lot of pressure from Lucas if he does make a mistake.

Further to this, Liverpool's regular changes at the back can't help Lucas.

Liverpool are yet to form a formidable partnership in the centre of defence. Martin Skrtel has been impressive all season, but manager Brendan Rogers seems unable to decide between Daniel Agger, Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho.

With Gerrard's absence, Agger should play for his leadership.

Whereas Liverpool have coped without their captain in the past, that is because they have had another veteran at hand - Jamie Carragher.

He was as much the heartbeat of the Liverpool side as Gerrard.

Carragher would step up when his captain was not there and be as inspirational as Gerrard could be. Now retired, Liverpool cannot  rely on this.

It seems as if Luis Suarez will be handed the captain's armband against Tottenham Hospur. As world class as Suarez is, he is no leader. 

While Liverpool could win at Tottenham, the missing duo of Gerrard and Sturridge may prove too much of a mental hinderance - and it this could prove their downfall in the search for Champions League football.

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Topics:
#Daniel Sturridge
#Steven Gerrard
#Liverpool
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