COMPETITION Premier League
DATE Wednesday 28th November 2012
VENUE White Hart Lane






Under Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool have shown a willingness to pass the ball ad infinitum and in doing so, have suffered the same fate that they did last year, in drawing too many games as they are lacking in goals to go on and win games.  Even when 2-0 up against Everton recently, they still let the Toffees back into it to grab a point.

So, they arrive at the Lane on the back of a eight game unbeaten run in the Premier League, but with five draws, their wins have come against Wigan Athletic, Reading and Norwich City.   With Luis Suarez, they have one of the most dangerous striker sin the league ... in more ways than one.  His is good when one-on-one, so has to be carefully marshalled, but players must try to shift him out to areas where he cannot do much damage.

There tens to be a player playing in the hole behind him, with youngster Raheem Sterling filling that gap at the moment.  His transition into the first team has been good and while he is no yet hitting the goals he managed in youth football, it looks like he has the ability to make that happen.  Liverpool have also been pushing Jose Enrique forward to add to their attacking options and he was only narrowly offside when he hit the net in Saturday's 0-0 draw at Swansea City.  He is quick, but up against Lennon or Bale, he might be restricted in how far forward he is allowed to go.

The other options up front are all young players in Assaidi, Pacheco, Morgan and Borrini, so there may be one on the bench, but in all likelihood, Liverpool will just go with one up top.

The Liverpool midfield is a rich seam of players, but some have not exactly hit it off, while others have been out injured or not favoured.  Joe Cole's appearances are a rarity, while Lucas Leiva had one game back before injury struck again at the start of the season.  Stewart Downing has been such a flop since his big money signing, that he has been relegated to left back, while Joe Allen has found that passing stats are not quite enough at Anfield, where his passes have to do some damage.  Steven Gerrard is still trying to drive the team on, but he has had his injuries too, which have taken their toll a little bit, leaving Jonjo Shelvey as his natural successor.  A hard running midfielder, the former Charlton man is starting to get among the goals, but he still has some way to go to match Gerrard's achievements.  Nuri Sahin came in on loan from Real Madrid and looked a good player, but he has not continued that form and Jordan Henderson is another English midfielder Liverpool splashed out on, but have had little in return for the big outlay they have made.  .

Jamie Carragher ploughs on in the middle of the Liverpool defence, but only usually starts in cup competitions, which is a shame, as I would like to see him add to his Tottenham goal tally.  More often, it is Skertl and Agger in the middle of the back four, with Downing and Glen Johnson outside them  but this may be changed to bring back Andre Wisdom into the side, as he is a player with a bit of pace to counter Tottenham's speedy wingers.

In goal, Pepe Reina's reign is under threat with Brad Jones being favoured by Rodgers.  Reina made a few mistakes at the start f the season and he paid the price, with the Aussie keeper coming in and doing a sound job, but much of what he is able to do is reflected by the performance of those in front of him and the defence do not protect him like Liverpool defences of old.  Jones is a competent keeper, but appears to be caught off his line sometimes.  Spurs might do well to look at the space behind him.

Spurs need to play at a similar tempo to that they did against West Ham and try to retain possession as much as possible, as Liverpool will pass the ball for fun.  Spurs have to ensure they don't leave gaps for the visitors to exploit and some tight defending is called for.  With Gallas pushing for a return, I hope that he or Dawson can keep a tight grip on Suarez.

While I would like to think that Spurs could keep their good run of home wins over Liverpool going, I think that the Reds will come compact and looking for a point, which might make them hard to break down.

PREDICTION Tottenham Hotspur    1         Liverpool    1
Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.
Spurs will be missing long term injured Scott Parker (Achilles), Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee) and Younes Kaboul (knee), while Emmanuel Adebayor serves the second of his three game suspension.  Mousa Dembele has come through two substitute appearances and may be ready for a start, while Sandro, who suffered a knock in Sunday's game against West Ham United should be fit to start.  William Gallas will also be hoping to reclaim his place in the side after missing the last couple of matches.
Luca Leiva will not be involved as he continues his comeback from injury in the reserves, while Andre Wisdom will be available after overcoming a knee knock. 

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Tottenham Hotspur  2 (2)     Liverpool  1 (0)
Premier League
Wednesday 28th November 2012                               Kick off 19:45
White Hart Lane
Lennon 7
Bale 16
Bale (o.g.) 72
Bale (simulation)  78


Skrtel (foul) 38
Enrique (foul)  91 


Crowd :   36,162 Weather :  Cold
Referee :  Phil Dowd (Stoke-on-Trent) Assistant Referees :  S. Burt; J. Brooks
Fourth Official :  G. Ward -
Liverpool kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.
Tottenham Hotspur : kit Liverpool : kit
25  Hugo LLORIS

28  Kyle WALKER
13  William GALLAS
20  Michael DAWSON (c)

19  Mousa DEMBELE (  6  Tom HUDDLESTONE 88)

  7  Aaron LENNON 
  2  Clint DEMPSEY (22  Gylfi SIGURDSSON 63)
11  Gareth BALE      ( o.g.)

18  Jermain DEFOE

Unused subs: 
24  Brad FRIEDEL

31  Andros TOWNSEND

  25  Pepe REINA

  2  Glen JOHNSON
37  Martin SKRTEL     
  5  Daniel AGGER
  Stewart DOWNING (11  ASSAIDI 78)

14  Jordan HENDERSON (33  Jonjo SHELVEY 63)
  8  Steven GERRARD (c)
24  Joe ALLEN
31  Raheem STERLING
  3  Jose ENRIQUE     

  7  Luis SUAREZ

Unused subs: 
  1  Brad JONES
47  Andre WISDOM
  Nuri SAHIN

30  SUSO

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

Spurs came out of this match with Liverpool with the three points, but a much improved second half by the Scousers made it a difficult forty-five minutes for Tottenham to hang on and win 2-1.

Thanks to a cracking start to the game with two goals in 16 first half minutes, Spurs looked as though they might go on to replicate their 4-0 win of last season, but with Liverpool enjoying 52R% of possession and having more shots on target than Spurs, but having to rely on us to score their goal for them. And that is where their problem lies. Suarez, for all his pantomime villainy, can be a skilful and damaging player, but not often enough.

But that it their problem.

Tottenham's problem is capitalising on a good start.  Having gone ahead now a couple of times on the trot, we still have the ability to either run out of steam or allow the other side back into a game that we should have been out of sight in.  Tonight, we had a good twenty minutes, which was good enough to see off Liverpool, but if they had a bit of luck, they might easily have turned it around into a 3-2 win.

With Gareth Bale involved in everything that went on, he set up one goal, scored twice and got booked.  Not  a bad night's work !   His early 30 yard free-kick was hit Ronaldo style over the wall and caused Reina to hurriedly beat the ball away, with Jermain Defoe quickly onto the loose ball, but a combination of Reina and Johnson prevented a shot on goal at the cost of a corner.  Taking possession off Gerrard, Defoe was involved again, as he ran fro the centre circle to the edge of the box where he passed left to Bale, but Gareth's shot went across the face of goal and well wide to the right..

Liverpool were finding it difficult to live with the tempo and the pace of the wide men, with Dembele starting and providing a rock upon which a lot of Liverpool's moves foundered and Tottenham's started.  In the seventh minute, Vertonghen's pass to Bale saw him take the ball on the halfway line, break up the left wing at pace going past Gerrard, Johnson and another red shirt, before pulling the ball back low across the face of goal and coming in behind a ball-watching Stewart Downing at left back was Aaron Lennon, who had the simple task of tapping in at the far post from close range.  The goal owed everything to Bale's ability to take people on at great speed and Brendon Rodgers' selection of a winger at full back.

The Reds tried to come back straight away and when Suarez was put in around the edge of the D, his low side-footed effort did not have enough pace to beat Lloris' dive and he pushed the ball out.  There was a better opportunity in the 14th minute, when a through ball saw Lloris commit himself by racing out of his area and Kyle Walker took the ball away from him, with Suarez racing in, but the ball went to Jordan Henderson.  20 yards out with the goal in front of him, he allowed Walker to get back at him and the full back's sliding challenge did enough to put pressure on the big money flop to shoot wide of an unguarded net.

A couple of minutes later and Henderson had what might be termed an "assist" on the Spurs second goal.  With a rash challenge on Clint Dempsey from behind, the former Sunderland man gave away a free kick some 28 yards out and in the centre of the goal.  With Walker shaping up for a shot, Bale ran up to take it and in that moment, he produced another dipping free-kick, which caught a deflection off Joe Allen in the wall which took the ball past Reina, who had committed to his left.  It may well have beaten the keeper anyway, but the touch off the head of the midfielder ensured the ball nestle din the net. 

Tow goal sup inside 17 minutes and Liverpool were struggling.  Would this continue ?  Well, the visitors started to get hold of the ball and keep possession, but this is often their downfall, as they don't penetrate enough with it.  However, today they did produce some menace.  Spurs were reduced to shooting from long range, as Liverpool became more compact in the middle of the field, creating a good opening for themselves in the 27th minute, as Enrique got away on the left and pulled the ball back for Sterling and Suarez, but his cross was behind both players.  The Uruguayan was next up, carrying the ball forward from the middle of the Spurs half and ending with a shot from out on the right, where he had been shepherded by Dawson, making Lloris' job of saving easier.  Then Glen Johnson got wide to pull a ball back across the box, where Jose Enrique turned on the ball to shoot at Lloris form ten yards out, but without picking a place wide of the keeper.

The closest Liverpool came to getting a goal back in the first half was in the 36th minute, when Johnson threaded  a pass through to Steven Gerrard in the Spurs penalty area.  As Dembele came in to tackle, the Liverpool captain went down and there were shouts for a penalty, but as play continued, the ball ran to Suarez, who nudged it towards goal and with William Gallas running back to try to clear, Kyle Walker came out of nowhere to curl the ball off the line and just avoid hitting it against the French Spurs defender. 

When Spurs did manage to get away, they didn't get far, as Dempsey looked to break on the Liverpool penalty box, he only got a few yards inside his own half when Skrtel scythed him down from behind.  Having been sent off here last season, he must have breathed a sigh of relief when it was only yellow this time, being saved by covering defenders goal-side of the American.  both Walker and Vertonghen tried their luck from distance ,with the same result, as the ball ended up wide of the mark and Liverpool went close between these chances for Spurs, when Downing played a low ball into the area and as Dawson cleared, he did hit Gallas and the ball rebounded off him and luckily over the bar.  Right on 45 minutes, Bale ran at the red back four and then hit a low shot that Reina did well to dive and stop.

The half-time interval allowed everybody to get their breath back, but five minutes into the second half Liverpool should have got a goal back, with Suarez's right wing cross finding Enrique at the far post, but his header was being back across goal and it went into Lloris' hands instead of taking the chance to put it on target.  At the other end Clint Dempsey was out to show Liverpool just what they missed out on, as he first took the ball off Defoe outside the D and struck a shot wide, then tried to get a 30 yard shot to dip over Reina, but failed to do so.  When fouled on the edge of the box, the American took the set-piece himself, but could only find a shot into the wall, with this being his last involvement, being substituted by Gylfi Sigurdsson a few minutes later.

And in what was becoming free-kick practice for Bale, he had another long range effort at goal causing Reina to scramble cross his line, but he was relieved to see the ball sail a yard wide of his goal.  But when the action moved to the bother end, Spurs were up against it.  Enrique got forward again and his shot had to be blocked out for a corner by Lloris and from it, Shelvey swung the ball to the far post, where Agger had flicked it on to and Gerrard headed back across goal and looking to put the ball just inside the far post. Well placed to deal with it, Aaron Lennon was stood on the post, making it easy for him to clear the ball.  However, unlike Walker in the first half, he didn't have such good luck in getting the ball off the line, but the ball hit Gareth Bale full in the face at point blank range, with the ball ending up rebounding past Lennon and into the Tottenham net to make it 1-2. 

While Liverpool had played with more attacking intent, they had not really looked like scoring and the goal was a little against the run of play in that passage of the game.  Suarez thought he was Lionel Messi when he tackled Sandro on halfway and went for a 45 yard lob over Lloris, but the keeper was untroubled, with the ball sailing out for a throw-in !!  Another weaving Bale ruin ended with him hitting the floor outside the box, but referee Dowd thought that there had been no contact and booked Gareth for diving.

Ten minutes from time, from a corner, Daniel Agger did some ball juggling to produce an overhead kick into the box that Suarez met and volleyed narrowly over the top from 18 yards out.  With time running out, Enrique hit a pile-driver low along the floor, but was wide and when the Spaniard slipped through pass to Suarez in the box, he went to ground as Gallas came in to get a foot to the ball before the striker could shoot. 

Entering added time, Lennon went on along run up the right and Enrique cynically fouled him for a yellow card and when Sigurdsson took the ball off a |Reds defender he had a shot on target, but it was straight at Reina.

The final whistle was welcomed as were the three points - the second maximum haul in a week, with a London derby against Fulham to come at the weekend.  With this game, Spurs showed that they are able to dig in, but the tactic of defending a two goal lead will be a lot tougher against a better side.  We have seen such leads disappear in the past and could do again.  This side is more resilient and willing to work for each other, with the collective being more important than the significant contributions of the individuals.  Spurs are getting to grips with AVB's requirements, but there may still be some hiccups in the months to come, but while they can deliver such starts as this, it may be interesting to see what happens if he unleashes the team for the remainder of the game, instead of inviting the other team on to our goal and trying to hold out for a win.

Dembele didn't look 100% fit, but showed what a miss he ahs been, while Dawson had another good game in the middle of the defence.  Dempsey linked play well and while Defoe was quiet in goal-scoring threat terms, he worked hard for the cause.

A good performance and one which might prove to be an inspiration for the rest of the season when looked back on.

Michael Pearson


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What you thought



Other scores during this week :
Aston Villa 1 Reading 0 Tuesday
Chelsea 0 Fulham 0 Wednesday
Everton 1 Arsenal 1 Wednesday
Manchester United 1 West Ham United 0 Wednesday
Southampton 1 Norwich City 1 Wednesday
Stoke City 2 Newcastle United 1 Wednesday
Sunderland 0 Queens Park Rangers 0 Tuesday
Swansea City 3 West Bromwich Albion 1 Wednesday
Wigan Athletic 0 Manchester City 2 Wednesday




League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 14 11 0 3 33 18 33 +15
2 Manchester City 14 9 5 0 27 10 32 +17
3 Chelsea 14 7 5 2 23 12 26 +11
4 West Bromwich Albion 14 8 2 4 24 18 26 +6
5 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 14 7 2 5 25 23 23 +2
6 Everton 14 5 7 2 24 18 22 +5
7 Arsenal 14 5 6 3 23 13 21 +10
8 West Ham United 14 5 4 5 16 16 19 0
9 Swansea City 14 5 5 4 21 17 20 +4
10 Fulham 14 4 5 5 25 23 17 +2
11 Liverpool 14 3 7 4 18 18 16 0
12 Stoke City 14 4 7 3 14 13 19 +1
13 Norwich City 14 4 7 3 11 20 16 -9
14 Newcastle United 14 3 5 6 14 21 14 -7
15 Wigan Athletic 14 4 2 8 15 25 14 -10
16 Sunderland 13 2 7 4 12 16 13 -4
17 Aston Villa 14 3 4 7 11 22 13 -11
18 Southampton 14 3 3 8 21 31 12 -10
19 Reading 13 1 6 6 16 22 9 -7
20 Queens Park Rangers 14 0 5 9 10 26 5 -16

Position before match :  7th
Position after match :  5th
Position after the mid-week :  5th



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