Perhaps it was the sunshine, the less than walking pace of play or the
chants fro Sami Hyypia's last appearance for Liverpool that made this
seem like a bit of a meaningless pre-season friendly, but for Tottenham,
there was still the dubious prize of a place in the Europa League and
for Liverpool the runners-up spot in the table. So, it was an odd
game played in fits and starts, but one in which the strong home side
won 3-1 over the depleted Spurs team, who had some good possession, but
too often gave it away too easily.
Perhaps this game showed a few things. One, as Harry claims, we
are a way away from the top three or four in the division. Two,
that we need a few players to bolster the squad and three, we need to be
more assured in our play.
Unfortunately, it showed that shorn of a
few first team regulars in Palacios, Woodgate and Lennon, Tottenham
lacked confidence and threat. When they got the ball, there was a
slow build-up that highlights the need for Aaron Lennon's pace to inject
some urgency into the attack, while Luka Modric was perhaps showing some
of the rigours of a Premier League season that were there last week
against Manchester City. Some of his play was very good, when he
was running with the ball, but today (as last Saturday), his passing was
not always as acute as it usually is.
It seems that penalty at Old Trafford has
affected the way Tottenham are playing, with a return to the post League
Cup win of last season. Liverpool always seemed a yard quicker and
more willing to move for the ball. Tow chance sin the first five
minutes, with Gerrard landing an effort from outside the box on the roof
of the net as it fizzed over Gomes' bar and then Benayoun getting his
shot higher than that from about five yards out when a corner fell to
It took 20 minutes for Spurs to get
something on target and it was the unlikely presence of Benoit
Assou-Ekotto who hit a long range shot at Reina, who took two goes to
get hold of the ball. Just before the 30 minute mark, Jermaine
Jenas went down after having made a tackle and he had to leave the
action ten minutes later, with David Bentley coming on to replace him.
With 50 minutes, you hoped the summer signing might show what Spurs had
been missing while he was out of the side, but while he put some good
crosses into good areas, he failed to pick out a Tottenham head on a
number of occasions and sometimes seemed to run into dead ends without
looking up to see where his team-mates were.
It was just after Jenas' injury that Kuyt
put in a cross and Torres lost King and got in behind Hutton to head
home off the underside of the crossbar to give Liverpool the lead.
The game was being battled out in midfield, but a long through ball from
Ledley King a few minutes before the break found Jermain Defoe running
through unmarked, with only Reina to beat. Unfortunately, as he
tried to lob him, the Spanish keeper blocked his effort as he came out
to the edge of the area. Back at the other end, Yossi Benayoun
made himself enough space to get a shot away and was unlucky to see it
curl a couple of feet wide of Gomes' far post.
The second half started with Liverpool
attacking in much the same style as the first 45 minutes. Only
Ledley's intervention prevented Fernando Torres sliding Gerrard's pass
on goal, but King stretched out a leg to divert it for a corner.
After eleven minutes, Spurs got a rare free-kick on the edge of the area
and it was Gareth Bale who hit his shot to the side that Reina was
standing, but again, it took two goes to get hold of the ball, with
Defoe closing in on the loose ball.
When Liverpool put their passes together,
they produced a lot of problems for Tottenham and in the 64th minute,
one such passage of play gave Kuyt a shooting opportunity in the area
and as Gomes went down to cover the shot, Hutton got a foot to it and
diverted it over the Spurs keeper, with the effort seemingly going wide.
This was a throw-back to earlier in the season, when everything flew
past Gomes, usually via a Spurs leg or body, as they tried to block it.
While Liverpool were good value for their
2-0 lead, they had a number of chances to get to that score. They
also failed to take the many more to open up a bigger margin which might
have deprived Tottenham of eighth place. Gerrard took a pass on
his chest and turned past Assou-Ekotto, leaving him free a couple of
feet from the dead ball line and about four yards wide of the goal on
the right. He quickly hit a shot across Gomes and beat him, but
not the post, seeing the ball bounce out. He had another go,
shooting a yard wide, Riera snuck an effort through a crowd of players
to miss by a foot and Xabi Alonso fires a shot that Gomes had to move
his feet to get into a position to push it out as it looked as though it
might go in at the top corner.
Defoe made way for Pavlyuchenko and
within a few minutes, Tottenham had stunned the generally quiet Anfield
crowd into silence with a 77th minute goal. Modric played a ball
over the square Reds defence and Keane was through on goal all alone.
As Reina came towards him, the Spurs captain shaped to shoot to the
keeper's left, but sent him the wrong way and buried his shot into the
bottom right hand corner of the Liverpool goal. As is his usual
policy of not celebrating goals against his former employers, he walked
away and this, rather than the goal I assume, brought him applause from
the home supporters.
Harry was ready to go for the win and
brought on Bent for Bale, but apart from two headers, one from just
inside the are and one from just outside the six yard box - both of
which failed to hit the target, he failed to have much impact.
Then, just four minutes after being back in the game, Spurs were out of
it. King lost the ball as he tried to dribble it out and then
Zokora had it taken off him, leaving Gerrard to thread a pass through
the remainder of the Tottenham defence and Benayoun hit a low drive that
Gomes got his knee to, but his angle allowed just enough room for the
ball to still sneak home and make it 3-1.
The home crowd were making more noise
calling for Hyypia to come on than for anything else in their play and
even when Corluka brought down Gerrard as he went through, the award of
just ayellow card failed to stir them. Perhaps they realised
that Carragher should have been shown one when he went through on
Assou-Ekotto a little earlier in the game. Anyway, Gerrard fancied
his chances from the dead ball, but could only hit it wide like his
other efforts, this one by a foot. Riera went close again and when
the Finn finally came on, he almost marked his Anfield farewell with a
goal from a corner, when his header was blocked on the line by a
combination of Gomes and Assou-Ekotto.
The final whistle came as a relief, but
the cheers from the Liverpool support at last overwhelmed the Spurs
singing, which had rung around the ground for most of the 90 minutes,
with "When The Spurs Go Marching In" being a particular favourite.
The end of a curious season that started
with such promise and ended with relief, but also one which could have
been even better. One thing is for sure, that without Harry
Redknapp, Spurs could have been where Newcastle were before the last
game kicked off and with a game at Anfield usually ending up ion only
one result, it would have been a tough ask to get anything when we
With such a "big club"
(© The tabloids) as Newcastle United
being relegated, it should send a message to all other clubs that
without a proper structure in place, both behind the scenes and in the
management of the team, things can soon turn into a shambles and end up
in Geordie tears.
I don't think Spurs are far off being a
top six club, but we have been here so many times before. Will it
be different this summer, when the club has a chance to build on what is
in place ?
That's a question we all want the right