COMPETITION Premier League
DATE Sunday 10th March 2013
VENUE Anfield






With a  good run in motion and with Gareth Bale looking good when he is in motion on the run, things are looking rosy for Tottenham, but in the Liverpool Reds, they meet a team who have hit a little run of form too and will be looking to maintain the momentum they have gathered.

What may hamper Spurs is the potential loss of Aaron Lennon, who has produced some of his best form lately, but leaving the pitch against Internazionale on Thursday with a hamstring strain, he is doubtful for this match and maybe the return in Milan.  Spurs may draft in Lewis Holtby in his place, which will provide a different challenge for the Liverpool defence, as the German international is a touch player ... and an Evertonian to boot !!

There has been a mini-revival at Anfield since Lucas returned to the Reds midfield, as his tenacity in trying to be a ball winner has freed Steven Gerrard to play his more natural attacking game.  It has also helped Stewart Downing to be more involved and l with Philipe Coutinho coming in from Inter in January, his passing has produced a more expansive style to the ball retention that Brendan Rodgers has tried to instil in his players.  Many games had seen them have huge possession stats, but with little end product.

And while Luis Suarez is scoring freely and trying to turn around his image (a tough job for some one like Max Clifford, let alone a footballer), there are few people chipping in with goals for the Reds.  Twenty goals behind the Uruguayan is Gerrard.  If Bale makes Spurs a one-man team, then what about Suarez ?  There is much to say that if both players are marked out of the game, it could end 0-0.

But apart from Shelvey adding a few in cup games and against weakened teams and Downing starting to score a couple here and there, there are few options of "next scorer" at Anfield.  Agger and Skrtel might be handy from set-pieces, but other than the odd bolt out of the blue from Glen Johnson, you would be hard pushed to win money on that bet.

Raheem Sterling has done well after coming into the side, showing good skill, but not always the best awareness of other team-mates, while Franco Borini has got a dislocated shoulder injury that will see him miss the remainder of the season.  Daniel Sturridge has formed a good partnership with Suarez since his move from Chelsea in January, so his return to the team will be welcomed, as there is not another experienced forward in the squad.  Strong on the ball and showing good movement off it, Sturridge had been a target for AVB when he was about to leave Chelsea, as he knew him well from his time at Stamford Bridge.

With the midfield consisting of Lucas, Gerrard and Downing, that only leaves one slot for Jordan Henderson, Joe Allen, Coutinho and Shelvey to battle for.  Countinho should win the place just on the basis that they paid a fair amount of money for him and his passing can open up opportunities for Suarez.  Allen hasn't been quite as impressive at Liverpool as he had been at Swansea and Henderson is still trying to live up to the big price tag Liverpool paid for him.

In goal, Pepe Reina has had his wobbly moments this season (the mad rush off his line against City at the Etihad), but with Rodgers still not sure about Brad Jones, the Spaniard still gets the gloves and Spurs could do well to test his nerve with some stinging shots.  Never a great one to hold onto the ball, any rebound might be snapped up by Defoe or Sigurdsson, now both could feature in the side.  The player sin front of him have been a bit hit and miss this season too.  Skrtel, Agger, Carragher and Coates have all been tried at centre-half and the first two have been the favoured partnership until recently, when Carragher has made a comeback in Skrtel's absence.  Without a regular partnership and without confidence through the middle, the defence has looked a little shaky sometimes.  With Martin Kelly out until later this month, his height and strength have been missed, but first choice right back, Glen Johnson always looks better going forward than he does going backwards.  With Jose Enrique on the other flank offering the same mix of attacking verve and absenteeism when moves break down, Bale and Sigurdsson might capitalise on the space they can find there.

A win would  keep Tottenham right up there and put some distance between them and the chasing pack, but Liverpool will be using this as a yardstick to see how they are doing and will be pulling out all the stops.  Free-scoring at home against the weakened and weaker sides they have faced lately, it will be an interesting contest for both sides and I think for that reason, they might have to both settle for a point each

PREDICTION Liverpool    1      Tottenham Hotspur   1
Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.
Martin Skrtel and Daniel Sturridge return, with the defender more likely to start on the bench, but Franco Borini's shoulder injury is set to sideline him for the rest of the season and Martin Kelly's knee injury will not be ready for him to return against Spurs.
Sandro (knee), Younes Kaboul (knee) and Tom Huddlestone (knee) are all out injured, while Clint Dempsey's calf strain is taking longer than anticipated to heal.  Aaron Lennon's hamstring pull on Thursday makes him an unlikely starter, but with Bale suspended for the second leg in Italy, he will be given free rein to put in 100% at Anfield.  Emmanuel Adebayor might be fit after being carried off against Arsenal last week.


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Liverpool  3 (1)     
Premier League
Sunday 10th March 2013                             
Venue :  Anfield
Tottenham Hotspur  2 (1)

Kick off  16:00
Suarez 21
Downing 66
Gerrard (p) 82
Vertonghen 45
Vertonghen 53
Carragher (foul on Bale) 83  


Vertonghen (handball) 53  


Crowd :   44,752 Weather :  Dry, chilly
Referee :  Michael Oliver (Nortumberland) Assistant Referees :  M. McDonough; J. Brooks
Fourth Official :  Neil Swarbrick -
Tottenham kicked off and played towards the Kop end in the first half.
Liverpool : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit
  1  Brad JONES

  2  Glen JOHNSON
23  Jamie CARRAGHER     
  5  Daniel AGGER
  3  Jose ENRIQUE

10  Phillippe COUNTINHO (24  Joe ALLEN 59)
  8  Steven GERRARD (c) 
19  Stewart DOWNING

  7  Luis SUAREZ 
15  Daniel STURRIDGE  (14  Jordan HENDERSON 88)

Unused subs: 
42  Peter GULACSI
37  Martin SKRTEL
47  Andre WISDOM
31  Raheem STERLING

  25  Hugo LLORIS

28  Kyle WALKER
20  Michael DAWSON (c)
  5  Jan VERTONGHEN        
32  Benoit ASSOU-EKOTTO  (46  Tom CARROLL 90)

  8  Scott PARKER
29  Jake LIVERMORE  (23  Lewis HOLTBY 84)

19  Mousa DEMBELE
11  Gareth BALE

18  Jermain DEFOE

Unused subs: 
24  Brad FRIEDEL
33  Steven CAULKER
41  Shaquile COULTHIRST

Manager :  Brendan Rodgers Manager :   Andre Villas-Boas
Sponsor :   Standard Chartered Shirt sponsor :  Aurasma
Kit Supplier :  Warrior Kit Supplier :   Under Armour
Match report

Is Scouseland becoming the new North-East for Spurs ?  This time last year (to the day), Tottenham were losing 0-1 at Goodison Park and it was there earlier in this season that we lost out 1-2 to two late, late goals.  Going down 2-3 at Anfield to an average Liverpool side was a shock, after coming back from 0-1 down and then gifting two goals to the Reds like charity hand-outs.

After such a long unbeaten run - since that loss at Everton - it had to end somewhere, but for a long time, it did not seem likely here until a penalty given to the home side at Anfield (well, hearing that takes me back a bit) gave the Reds the victory that their performance didn't really deserve.

Spurs had a scare in the warm-up when William Gallas got an injury and had to pull out, allowing teenage striker Shaquile Coulthirst to take the Frenchman's place on the bench.  Apart from that, the return to the side of Lloris and Michael Dawson after dropping to the bench against Inter Milan was expected, while Jake Livemore came in for the hamstrung Aaron Lennon, dropping in alongside Parker, while Dembele played in the forward midfield three.  The move of Mousa further forward didn't seem to work too well early on, as he found himself stuck tight to the right hand touchline and when he drifted infield, he invariably ran into a mass of red shirts.  Early on, both Benny and then Parker were both robbed of the ball leading to Sturridge being put away. Firstly he shot hopefully and wildly from a narrow angle on the right, then was pushed wide by Lloris' rush to the edge of the box for the second.

For the first ten minutes, aside the two incidents above, Spurs held the ball well and played the way Liverpool like to. Not that they were in offensive positions, but they were making the Liverpool players run to close them down.  With 12 minutes gone, a Dembele run was ended by Agger's foul and up stepped Bale to strike a dipping, swerving free-kick that Brad Jones had to beat out in an unorthodox manner.  He didn't look happy at the ball's movement.

And it was the movement of the ball on the floor that undone Spurs in the 21st minute.  A break down the left had Coutinho back heel to Enrique, who played a one-two with the Brazilian and then slipped a ball down the left behind Dawson for Suarez to get on the end of it and take it early, with the outside of his right boot, to play it under Lloris to hand Liverpool the lead.

When Spurs did get forward, they looked ponderous around edge of Liverpool box.  However, at the other end, Suarez got in behind Assou-Ekotto on the right and crossed, which Lloris palmed out as it went across goal.  Behind him, Coutinho went down under close attention from Kyle Walker and the shouts for a penalty went up from the Red sector of the crowd.  It wasn't to be the last.

Tottenham's crosses into the box were invariably into Jones' hands. They appeared to be missing width on the right from Lennon, as Dembele had to come inside every time onto his left foot.  But Dembele and Walker made some space on the right in the 37th minute, with Mousa playing the ball into Bale, who dragged the ball behind him for Sigurdsson to have a shot from a central position that went past Jones' right hand post by a couple of feet.

Suarez was back to his squealing best when challenged by Parker, who wasn't interested until the Uruguayan wrapped his legs around Scott's to bring him down. There was a stand off between the two, who were both spoken to by the referee after the move had broken down.  Gerrard had been after Bale from the start and caught Gareth with an elbow across the back of the neck. The Liverpool captain knows exactly what he is doing in these moments and although the ref once more spent a lot of time talking to him, that was all he did. Another example of a former England captain getting away with punishment.

As it was that punishment was handed out when Bale came back on after having treatment.  The Spurs free-kick was headed out, but they worked the ball on the right for Bale to play a cross into the Liverpool box and Vertonghen rose above Johnson, who didn't jump, to glance a header low past Brad Jones to level the score. Coming in the 45th minute, it was what Tottenham's play had deserved.

Half time came and went, with no changes to the 22 who started the match. Liverpool kicked off attacking the Kop, as they like to do. Six minutes in, Spurs won the ball in midfield and in a flash, Bale had put Defoe away on the right. He struck a shot from an angle that Jones was behind, but couldn't hold.  Another example of testing the ability and the confidence of the keeper.  As it was, a minute later, a free kick given for Lucas poking Bale in the eye was played in by our number 11 and as Dawson went up for it, pulled by Agger, Carragher won it and knocked it down, only for Vertonghen, who steadied himself and waited for it to come down to fire it past Jones' right hand. 53 minutes and 2-1 to Spurs.  And although Carragher missed the opportunity to add to his tally of Spurs goals in these fixtures before he retires, he can surely claim the assist.

The 'knowledgeable' Liverpool fans called for Vertonghen to be sent off when a through pass was given as handball against him. It looked for all the world that the ball had hit his chest or at the most the top of his shoulder, which isn't handball anyway.  But Tottenham dealt with the free-kick and Bale broke, racing past Gerrard and Carragher, who couldn't live with his pace, then crossed from the right to the far post, where Gylfi took it down and hit a shot that deflected off Johnson onto the post and behind for a corner.  Defoe was free inside him, but with players coming back, he might have suffered the same fate as his attempted square pass to Bale last week, so you couldn't blame him for going for goal.  And it was beating Jones, until it just caught Johnson's ankle.  On the hour, a shot by Dembele was straight at Jones, who still didn't look safe, as he beat the ball out, but straight back in front of goal.

Liverpool were looking to hit Bale every time he was on the ball. And despite that, Gareth got up and went again. And the same went for Jan, when Suarez pulled him down trying to get on the end of a through pass. Despite this new image he is trying to portray, he is still an odious cheat.

With Spurs trying to play their way out of the back, Kyle Walker's wayward back pass that went across the pitch meant that Hugo Lloris had to run out of his area to try and retrieve it, but missed a decent contact and the ball fell for Stewart Downing to take it forward and have time to shoot through Vertonghen's legs on the line. It was a shocking goal to give away and was a gift when Spurs had worked hard to go ahead.

Liverpool's first corner came in the 70th minute of the game. From it, the ball was cleared and Jose Enrique struck a shot from 25 yards that went two yards wide. Sturridge tried to get around Vertonghen in the next Liverpool attack, but the Belgian stood his ground and nicked the ball off him as he shaped to shoot.  As Spurs started pushing forward, they were getting caught up-field, with Dawson and Vertonghen both losing the ball in the opposition half. They were also rushing things, which put players under pressure and passes were mis-placed, while Suarez ran the ball off the pitch, but wanted a penalty for handball off a defender who hadn't even touched the ball and then Sturridge threw himself worse than anything that Bale has ever done and didn't even get spoken to by referee Oliver.

The defining moment in the match came in the 81s minute, when Jermain Defoe poked the ball back into his own area for some reason when a free-kick was cleared and it went to Suarez, who nudged it past Assou-Ekotto.  Benny then knocked him over with a blind jump at the Liverpool striker and made the referee's job easy for him by allowing him to point to the spot. So, eight minutes from time, Gerrard sent Lloris the wrong way to give Liverpool the lead.

But still every time Bale got the ball, he was brought down. Straight from the kick off, Carragher, in his 500th league match for Liverpool, got a yellow for a cynical trip on the Welshman. When Jan Vertonghen won a tackle after two opponents were pressuring him in his own box, Johnson went down and howled for a penalty again. They were appealing for everything. It was sad to see a supposedly 'great' club reduced to this, but as they hacked the ball clear to nobody in particular, it was clear that they didn't mind how they won this match.

I don't know if it was tired legs or tired heads, but the game was handed to Liverpool, who didn't deserve the victory. The famous Kop only made any noise when they were winning at either end of the match. When Spurs were on top, they were strangely silent. Other than appealing for penalties that was.  And once more Suarez was in the spotlight at the end, when he sparked a face off with Mousa Dembele.  Why someone in the FA doesn't do something about him, I don't know.

The defeat sets Spurs back a little in the search for Champions League football, but then it doesn't do much for Liverpool. Two errors were the difference in this match. Liverpool won't get them every week and we won't make them every week.  Well, I hope that, at the very least, we learn from our mistakes.

Ted Maul



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What you thought
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Other scores during this week :
Norwich City 0 Southampton 0 Saturday
Queens Park Rangers 3 Sunderland 1 Saturday
Reading 1 Aston Villa 2 Saturday
Swansea City 1 West Bromwich Albion 2 Saturday
Newcastle United 2 Stoke City 1 Sunday




League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 28 23 2 3 68 31 71 +37
2 Manchester City 28 17 8 3 51 24 59 +27
3 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 29 16 6 7 51 36 54 +15
4 Chelsea 28 15 7 6 55 29 52 +26
5 Arsenal 28 13 8 7 53 32 47 +21
6 Liverpool 29 12 9 8 56 36 45 +20
7 Everton 27 11 12 5 44 35 45 +9
8 West Bromwich Albion 29 13 4 12 40 38 43 +2
9 Swansea City 29 10 10 9 40 36 40 +4
10 Fulham 28 8 9 11 39 44 33 -5
11 Stoke City 29 7 12 10 28 36 33 -8
12 West Ham United 28 9 6 13 32 41 33 -9
13 Newcastle United 29 9 6 14 38 48 33 -10
14 Norwich City 29 8 12 9 27 45 33 -19
15 Sunderland 29 7 9 14 32 41 30 -9
16 Southampton 29 6 10 13 39 51 28 -12
17 Aston Villa 29 6 9 14 28 54 27 -26
18 Wigan Athletic 28 6 6 16 33 55 24 -22
19 Reading 29 5 8 16 35 56 23 -21
20 Queens Park Rangers 29 4 11 14 24 45 23 -21


Position before match :  3rd
Position after match :  3rd
Position after the weekend :  3rd


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