|DATE||Saturday 11th January 2020|
can't think of a team that I would rather not meet at this point
than Liverpool. With our injury list and the team unable to
defend, coming up against one of the most potent attacking sides in
the North-West, it will be a long hard afternoon ... not only for
the players, but the paying public in the Spurs sections.
The way that Mourinho sets the team up will be interesting, as Liverpool have been rampaging through their Premier League fixtures so far and while they have been fortunate with few serious or long-lasting injuries to their first choice eleven, fixtures come think and fast now and Klopp has been giving the usual foreign manager whinge that we play too many games. Having thrown the League Cup game at Aston Villa, he is more than capable of reducing the workload when he wants.
The Spurs side will be tested today by the pace that Liverpool break with and with Sissoko out, it will leave a big gap in midfield for someone who will win the ball and run with it from a deep lying position. Kane's absence is not as big a blow for this match I think. He usually gets out-muscled by van Dijk and with two nippy players buzzing around him, he might find it harder to deal with, but Tottenham will have to play smart. That means not hoofing high balls forward. Lucas has a great jump on him, but we are unlikely to have many players up with him, so the second ball will probably fall to a red shirt. That means that we need to keep the ball on the floor and get men up in support of the front man or men, depending how Mourinho lines the team up.There are a couple of injuries in the Liverpool squad, but that is unlikely to prevent them putting out a strong side and with their squad almost numbering into the hundreds, there is depth there, but don't be fooled, as many of them were in the Reds' side that was beaten twice in a week by our Under-18s and Under-23s.
The important thing for this match will be to guard the ball, which is something we haven't done particularly well since Jose's arrival. Giving the ball away has seen us get punished by the likes of Norwich City, Southampton and Middlesbrough. Lord alone knows what will happen if we continue to be so generous against Liverpool.
With rumours of new recruits in the offing, although the focus of
which has changed because of injuries to Kane and Sissoko, things
might change, but it will be evolution rather than revolution.
It won't come soon enough for this game, so let's just write it off
and crack on with the season after Saturday.
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 1 Liverpool 3|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Spurs go into the game with Liverpool without Harry Kane (hamstring), Ben Davies (ankle), Moussa Sissoko (knee), Hugo Lloris (elbow) and Tanguy Ndombele (hip). Danny Rose has been training and could be involved in the match at some point.
LIVERPOOL TEAM NEWS :
The Merseysiders will be without James Milner (thigh), Dejan Lovren (thigh), Nathaniel Clyne (knee), Joel Matip (knee), Naby Keita (groin) and Fabio Tavaraes (ankle), while Xherdan Shaqiri has had a high injury, but might be ready for a place on the bench.
|Premier League||Kick off 17.30|
|Tottenham Hotspur 0 (0)||
Firmino 36m 22s
Gomez (foul on Son) 23
Oxlade-Chamberlain (foul on Moura) 39
|Crowd : 61,023||Weather : Drizzly rain prior to match, but then mild and breezy|
|Referee : Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire)||Assistant Referees : Mr. Lee Betts; Mr. Contantine Hatzidakis|
|Fourth Official : Andre Marriner|
|Video Assistant Referee : Craig Pawson||Video Assistant Referee Assistant : Harry Lennard|
|Liverpool kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.|
|Game time : - 90 + 9 minutes.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Liverpool :||kit|
|Manager : Jose Mourinho||Manager : Jurgen Klopp|
|Sponsor : AIA||Shirt sponsor : Chartered Standard|
|Kit Supplier : Nike||Kit Supplier : New Balance|
A game that started and finished with goal-scoring chances missed was settled by a single goal for Liverpool, who managed (or killed) the game with pointless possession on the edge of their own box and a succession of "tactical" fouls every time Spurs broke forward. Klopp has instilled the continental professionalism into his side which may make them successful (witness the boredom of the Champions League final after the early goal) and may see them got he season unbeaten, but they will never be regarded as s team who can hold a torch to the Liverpools of Shankly, Paisley or even Benitez.
It could have been the Madrid match all over again, with just coming up to two minutes seeing debutant Japhet Tanganga clear Firmino's shot that beat Gazzaniga off the line and then Oxlade-Chamberlain hit the loose ball against the base of the post. The rebound hit the young Spurs full back, falling for Paulo to grab it before any more damage could be done. It was a bit of an odd start to the game, with Spurs winning a first minute corner, but then almost conceding. Tottenham hit back with Lucas going close with a shot, but Son had one a minute later that was quite a long way wide from just outside the box after winning the ball off Henderson and bursting forward. Liverpool then started working the ball on Tanganga's side, with Robertson moving forward from left back, but the crosses into the box came to nothing.
The Alderweireld-Dele link worked a treat with 11 minutes gone, as the Spurs midfielder took the ball down on his chest and hit a shot, that under pressure, flew too high. Mourinho identified the Liverpool tactic of using Robertson and detailed Aurier to stop him, sometimes in defending against him, but also in pushing forward to prevent their left back having the option to move forward without leaving Serge unmarked. When balls were coming into the box from deeper positions, Davinson Sanchez was making it his by getting there first and Tanganga was following suit wining a header in the area from a corner. Tottenham wereb't pressing that hard, but Lucas Moura's work-rate was putting pressure on the Liverpool defenders and midfielders, so, when he took the ball off Henderson, he ran forward before laying the ball off to Eriksen, who hit a low shot that Alisson smothered easily. Gazzaniga was called upon to make a better save in the 22nd minute, when a corner bounced around the box until Henderson dinked a cross from inside the area to the right to the far post. Red shirts were queuing up for the ball with three there for the header, but it was left to van Dijk, who powered it at goal from a couple of yards out. For the best player in the world, it should really have been the opening goal, but he put it straight at our keeper, who palmed the ball out to safety.
The start of the "professional" fouling that Liverpool undertook started with 23 minutes on the clock, when Son raced away and got to halfway before cynically being brought down by Gomez. All the referee can give is a yellow card, but who knows what would have happened if he hadn't fouled Son ? Mane escaped shortly after, when Tanganga shrugged him off the ball and ran away with it, only to be pursued by the Liverpool winger, who you just knew was going to bring him down, but it was a nasty one from behind on the back of Japhet's Achilles without a hope of getting the ball and deserved a booking, but being Martin Atkinson and Liverpool, you had the feeling he was going to get away with it. When the game was coming up to half-time, Liverpool were taking it in turns to foul Lucas as he looked to run at their back line, but Atkinson felt that was all within the laws of the game. Not every foul is a booking, but they need to look at why the foul has been committed, not just its severity.
But by then Spurs were a goal down. Mane had already fired a shot over the top when he should have got it on target, curling it from inside the left side of the penalty area and then fired a side-on volley to Firmino's cross, but it went into the ground and over the bar. Robertson broke down the wing, only for Aurier to tackle him, with the throw-in going Liverpool's way, much to Serge's disgust. Taken quickly, Spurs were out of position and Firmino's touch took the ball into the box, where Toby got to it but couldn't clear it far. Henderson knocked it on and Salah laid it left, where Firmino let it go across him and he turned past Tanganga to fire it past Paulo to open the scoring in the 37th minute. Videos showed that it SHOULD have been Tottenham's throw and that Henderson handled in the build-up to the goal, but VAR's review still let the goal stand.
Liverpool's concern over the pace of Lucas was typified when a long clearance upfield saw Gomez and van Dijk block off the Brazilian's run in the centre circle with the ball some 20 yards away. Would you expect the referee to do anything ? Well, you might if it wasn't Atkinson.
Salah got away from Sanchez for once, but his shot couldn't find the target, slipping wide of Gazzaniga's left hand post and just before the break, a Spurs corner to the near post was won by Lucas, but the ball went wide.
Half-time discussions centred around the passive approach Tottenham had taken. There had been some efforts on goal, but containment seemed to be the name of the game. Spurs needed to be a lot more aggressive, as that was how Liverpool were playing and we needed to match that.
An early run by Lucas showed that the message might have been got across by Mourinho in the break, but as he ghosted by Henderson, his finish was wide of the post. Foul followed foul as Spurs got the ball and Liverpool decided that they couldn't risk letting us get anywhere near their penalty area. They did not result in a threat on the Liverpool goal and the visiting side relied on knocking the ball across the face of their penalty area with no intent on moving the ball forward. They might be successful, but my word are they boring. They can't rely on having one of the most dangerous front lines and Klopp is more than happy to be the new George Graham and rest on 1-0s to win trophies.
The crowd were getting annoyed at Tottenham moving the ball around and ending up going backwards, but when Gazzaniga launched one long, van Dijk and Alexander-Arnold got in each other's way. That allowed Dele to collect the loose ball and run into the box, where he went down under a challenge, but it was never going to be a penalty, as he had pushed the ball a little too far ahead of himself. Play continued and Aurier finished it with a shot at goal that Alisson had to save. Gazzaniga was right behind a shot from Firmino, after Salah had set him up, but the shot had been straight at the keeper and his counterpart had to be alert to come out of his box to clear a long Alderweireld through ball. Spurs were being more attack minded and Eriksen picked out Son on the left, from where he came inside to fire a shot wide off a Liverpool player.
Tanganga looked as though he might have let Mane in, as he slipped as a pass was played out wide, but Toby cleaned up as Robertson burst onto a pass at the cost of a corner. A couple of minutes later, the Scottish full back, who elbowed Trippier in the face in the Champions League final, survived a VAR review when he and Tanganga went for a ball just outside the Spurs penalty area and both were left on the floor. Video evidence showed that the Reds defender got to the ball late and went into Tanganga's shin with his studs. How it wasn't a red card, when Aubameyang had been sent off for a similar challenge on review earlier in the day. What was supposed to produce the right decisions "100%" of the time according to Alan Shearer's pre-match video looks like a lack of consistency is further undermining a system that a lot of people are now critical of.
With 20 minutes left, Jose decided to make a double substitution with Lamela and Lo Celso coming on for Rose and Eriksen. The cheers when number 23 was held up shows how far Eriksen's stock has fallen due to his contract situation and the fact that he is not producing the goods on the field. It is looking like his value might also be dropping and it could come to a point where Mourinho needs to start with the Argentine twins, as there is a new dynamic when they are on the pitch. Tanganga moved to left back, with Aurier taking his place on the right. One of the first things Gio did was to win the ball off Robertson and Lucas was away, setting up Son in a central position just inside the box. Under pressure, he fired at goal hard, but too high and a good chance was wasted.
Sonny was on the ball on the left wing soon after and stepped over to make himself some space before whipping in a cross that flew across the face of goal at chest height with no Spurs player to convert it. Aurier was winning most of his battles at right back and was trying to start forward moves. For a lot of the first half of the second period, our forwards and midfielders were too static when the defence had the ball offering no receiver for passes out from the back, but things had changed with the subs coming on and with Winks running the ball forward, the ball got played out right to Serge, who played a magnificent cross that reached Lo Celso at the far post, but stretching for it and coming in on an angle, he could only strike it the way it had come from and the ball flew past the post and wide of the goal. It was a great opportunity and with eight minutes left, might have had Liverpool dropping deep to defend what they had, as they hadn't looked to keen to go forward that much in the second half.
Robertson had a late kick at Toby in the centre circle long after he had laid the ball off, but See No Evil Atkinson waved play on. Which is what he did when Lucas rode a few challenges to run with the ball into the box, where Henderson pushed him forward with two hands on his back. Not looking for the penalty, Lucas stayed on his feet, but unbalanced, he could not get his shot away, but Lamela did when the ball ran into his path. Alisson made a regulation save though. A similar save came form Paulo after Origi looked like he was going to repeat his role as second goal-scorer in Madrid, with some neat control before hitting a low shot, but again, straight at the keeper.
Lamela made a run in the last minute of the 90 and ran into two players in the area before Atkinson gave a free-kick against him for being abused by van Dijk and two others who thought he was trying to win a penalty ! They would know all about diving of course.
A late Wijnaldum header that went into the ground and was easy for Gazzaniga to pick off was answered by Son having Tottenham's last effort with a 20 yard shot that went directly at Alisson.
Well, it wasn't the carnage that it might have been and partly that was due to Liverpool's reluctance to play a full part in the game. While they have no need to entertain, they are obviously keen to reinforce the Danny Blanchflower mantra that the game is about glory and not boring the other team to death. I spoke to Steve Perryman at a book signing recently and he made an interesting point about the Don Revie Leeds side of the 70s. While many people remember the Dirty Leeds tag, Steve said that it was a lack of trust in the players that earned them that moniker, as they were a fantastic team, but were not allowed to play their own game. Successful but unloved, their fans are unconcerned and so desperate are Liverpool to lift the Premier League that they are reduced to being flat-track bullies for teams lower down the league, but even against a side who are not playing well and have been hit by injuries in crucial areas of the team, the Scousers are willing to kill a game stone dead. Even then, when Spurs got more aggressive in the second half, they looked wobbly, when they should have gone for the jugular and put themselves out of sight. Hopefully this attitude will come back and bite them, although I fear it is far too late for that this season.
It won't matter to the Anfield crowd, but for the fans who enjoy the beautiful game, this is the antithesis and for all Klopp's shiny toothed grin, he into in the long line of legendary Liverpool managers. They will sing his name, but down the line people will only remember him for his name on the trophy, but that is what managers are judged by these days. It's a results business and it doesn't matter how they come. It might be something that happens at the new stadium, but that won't be the Tottenham Way - successful or not.
Davinson Sanchez makes his
100th Spurs appearance.
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|Match programme sponsors||-|
|Match shirt sponsors||-|
|How the players did|
|Paulo Gazzaniga||It was a well-taken goal, leaving Gazzaniga left standing, but he made good saves from van Dijk's header (straight at him in the first half) and a couple from low shots in the second.|
|Japhet Tanganga||An outstanding debut in the Premier League. Strong, confident and aware, I think he has a big future at the club.|
|Davinson Sanchez||Another very good performance on his 100th Spurs appearance. Dominant and happy to bring the ball out from the back, Davinson is becoming a very consistent performer.|
|Toby Alderweireld||Defended well. Sometimes looked a little exposed and needs Sanchez alongside him to add pace to the pairing, but played a captain's role today.|
|Danny Rose||Not one of Danny's best performances. Loose with his passing and often drawn infield leaving a man wide. Not sure what the future holds if he wants to see out his contract.|
|Harry Winks||Had a tough time, giving the ball away a few times, when there were few options available, but his running with the ball towards the end of the match pushed Liverpool back towards their own goal.|
|Serge Aurier||A cracking game. Gave the ball away a couple of times in the second half, but was strong winning the ball and willing to attack. Put in his one decent cross to Lo Celso near the end that could have created the equaliser.|
|Christian Eriksen||Took the brunt of the crowd's ire with some loose passing and lack of energy. Did track back at times, but lacked the creativity to prompt a goal.|
|Dele Alli||On the ball it might not have looked like one of Dele's best performances, but he worked so hard off it, it was a surprise that he still had enough to burst into the Liverpool box near the end.|
|Heung-Min Son||Had a couple of chances that he might normally have stuck away, but adapting to the new role up front with Lucas.|
|Lucas Moura||Ran his legs off. Persistently caused problems for Liverpool with his direct running that brought foul after foul every time he got the ball.|
|Giovani Lo Celso||Once more, his introduction from the bench sparked a revival, along with Lamela. Not just using his passing, but winning the ball, Gio looks like one we should complete the signing of in the transfer window.|
|Erik Lamela||Coming on as a sub, Erik was instrumental in going at Liverpool with Lo Celso, making it an uncomfortable ending to the game for the visitors.|
|What you thought|
|Other scores during this week :|
|Sheffield United||1||West Ham United London||0||Friday|
|Crystal Palace||1||Woolwich Wanderers||1||Saturday|
|Frank Lampard's Chelsea||3||Burnley||0||Saturday|
|Everton||1||Brighton & Hove Albion||0||Saturday|
|Manchester United||4||Norwich City||0||Saturday|
|Wolverhampton Wanderers||1||Newcastle United||1||Saturday|
|Aston Villa||1||Manchester City||6||Sunday|
|League Table 2019-20|
|4||Frank Lampard's Chelsea||22||12||3||8||39||29||39||+10|
|14||Brighton & Hove Albion||22||6||6||10||25||30||24||-5|
|16||West Ham United London||21||6||4||11||25||33||22||-8|
Position before match :
Position after match : 8th
Position after the weekend : 8th
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