COMPETITION Premier League
DATE Monday 6th February 2012
VENUE Anfield






With a 4-0 win against Liverpool under our belts, this meeting at Anfield should hold not demons, but the team are likely to be shorn of a couple of the players who started that match back in September.  And that win, although we were 1-0 ahead already, was assisted by some ill-discipline with Charlie Adam and Martin Skrtel getting sent off.

With Luis Suarez returning from his lengthy ban for racially abusing Patrick Evra, the spotlight will be on him and this might take the heat off Tottenham a bit.  With the fuss surrounding Andy Carroll in Suarez's absence, the team have been doing well, with wins over Manchester City in the League Cup and United in the FA Cup, but their loss at Bolton perhaps tells you more about their consistency than those two cup ties.  In fact, at home they have been stuttering, with a series of drawn matches, which has left them off the top four.

The side are functioning better now under Dalglish, but 28 goal sin 23 games tells the tale of their deficiencies.  Suarez has scored a few, but he also has had many more shots off target (just like our own striker Emmanuel Adebayor) and he ahs also hit the woodwork a lot.  Unlucky or not as accurate as he should be ?  We might find out on Monday.

Carroll might have to sit this one out, but his height and power will no doubt be introduced at some stage to try and shake up the Spurs defence.  Liverpool's game has had to incorporate Carroll's assets and he looked like a player lacking confidence, but goals against Oldham and Wolves might boost his goal-scoring instinct.  Playing up top with Suarez will likely be Craig Bellamy, who is having a new lease of life, making and scoring goals, as he look sot have matured as a player now.

The midfield of Liverpool has not been weighing in with the usual number of goals that they have done in the past.  This is mainly due to Steven Gerrard's injury keeping him out for a  long period.  But now he is back and will be trying to drive his side on in his typical style, but alongside him, Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing are all yet to win over the Anfield fans.  They have done well, but are living up to the legends who wore the shirts before them and they are not quite stepping up tot hat level yet.  Lucas' knee injury has ruled him out for the season and the Reds are missing him now despite the criticism he gathered when he was first at the club.

With Dirk Kuyt too important to sell in the transfer window, he has provided them with a hard working presence and Maxi Rodriguez has been a useful player to bring in when needed, chipping in with valuable goals at Chelsea and Blackburn.

With Pepe Reina in goal, Liverpool have one of the soundest stoppers in the league, but he can be prone to positioning errors and is not the best with his feet.  in front of him, Jamie Carragher is not a regular starter now, with Skrtel and Agger the preferred pairing in the middle of the back four, with Enrique and Glen Johnson at full back.  Both full backs like to get forward and might find themselves stranded if Tottenham break quickly, with their midfield wide men not the most defensive minded.  But they can produce problems when pushing on and providing supply to the front men, so Spurs will need to squeeze them infield or keep them pushed as far back as possible.

With Spurs likely to be missing at least four regular starters, it could be a tough ask to come away from Anfield for a win for a second season running, but the team have shown that they are comfortable in possession against the very top sides and could well frustrate Liverpool and with the pressure on them to come at Spurs, it might produce a situation where we can hit them when the opportunity arises.

However, with so many of the Liverpool home games ending all square, I feel that this might have the makings of another draw.

PREDICTION Liverpool    1      Tottenham Hotspur   1
Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , history, etc.
With Luis Suarez returning to the squad after his racist abuse ban ending, the only injury issue Kenny Dalglish has is the missing midfielder Lucas, who will be out with knee ligament damage for some time. 
Spurs have doubts over Emmanuel Adebayor, Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe (all hamstring strains), but the last two are most doubtful.  Rafael van der Vaart will have a  late check on his calf injury, while Kyle Walker expects to be fit following his substitution on Tuesday when he pulled his groin.  William Gallas' calf injury rules him out, while David Bentley's knee injury means he will be sidelined for a while, although Tom Huddlestone is continuing his come-back from his ankle surgery.

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Liverpool  0 (0)     
Premier League
Monday 6th February 2012                              
Venue :  Anfield
Tottenham Hotspur  0 (0)

Kick off  20:00
None None
Suarez (foul) 70
Skrtel (foul) 76


Parker (foul) 39
Bale (simulation)  54   


Crowd :   44,461 Weather :  Foggy before start, cold but dry
Referee :  Michael Oliver (Northumberland) Assistant Referees :  P. Kirkup; M. Mullarkey
Fourth Official :  Martin Atkinson Match Delegate : J. Bramhall
Professional Game Match Observer :  E. Lomas
Tottenham kicked off and played towards the Kop end in the first half.
Liverpool : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit
25  Reina

34  Kelly
  5  Agger
37  Skrtel       
  2  Johnson

18  Kuyt (  7  Suarez 66     )
20  Spearing
  8  Gerrard (c)
26  Adam

  9  Carroll
39  Bellamy (19  Downing 73)

Unused subs: 
32  Doni
  6  Aurelio
16  Coates
28  Carragher

  24  Friedel

28  Walker
20  Dawson
26  King (c)
32  Assou-Ekotto

29  Livermore
  8  Parker      
14  Modric
  3  Bale      

21  Kranjcar  (25  Rose 87)

10  Adebayor  (15  Saha 71)

Unused subs: 
23  Cudicini
33  Nelsen
26  Khumalo
45  Luongo
53  Lancaster

Manager :  Kenny Dalglish Manager :   Harry Redknapp
Sponsor :   Standard Charter Shirt sponsor :  Aurasma
Kit Supplier :  adidas Kit Supplier :   Puma
Match report

In an untidy match, which was threatened by  a blanket of fog before kick off, Spurs were held to a draw by a determined, but mediocre Liverpool side.  Coming into the match without Rafael van der Vaart, Aaron Lennon, Younes Kaboul and Jermain Defoe, Tottenham started with Jake Livermore and Niko Kranjcar in midfield and were lacking their usual flair, width and sharpness of passing.

For the first five minutes of the game, neither side looked like they wanted to hang onto the football, turning over possession, with Liverpool's passes being mi-directed, while Spurs found it hard without an "out" ball from the back, thus it kept coming back at them.   Emmanuel Adebayor was stranded up front on his own and there was little he could do to hold the ball up all the time.  With Kranjcar showing occasional glimpses of what he is capable of, but more often looking like someone who couldn't be that bothered to chase back, etc, Tottenham were hampered by the physical approach Liverpool took and the lack of options when on the ball.

Five minutes in, Carroll was released on the edge of the box with a run on goal, but Michael Dawson produced a finely times tackle that took the bal and not the player, otherwise we might have been looking at a penalty and a sending off had he got the man and not the ball.  The players were hardly setting the game alight, so a new entrant took the limelight, when a cat ran onto the pitch with 12 minutes gone and scampered around the grass unchallenged until he was cornered by a couple of stewards off the pitch by the advertising boards.  It was a brief respite in an undistinguished first half that waited until 30 minutes before there was a shot on target, as Kranjcar hit a  low effort at Reina, who needed two goes to grab hold of the ball.

Bellamy flashed a shot low past the post and Johnson's cross missed out everyone in the middle and would have sneaked it low at the far post had Brad Friedel not scooped the ball away before Spearing was set up for a shot from just outside the box that swerved away from goal and missed by a couple of feet.  But there were a few moments when Liverpool's desperation to get back to the top four showed, with Skrtel barging Bale into the advertising boards off the pitch and Adam charging around leaving his foot in unnecessarily.  Bale almost manufactured a bizarre goal with a drag back from near the penalty area when the ball was played in behind him, but it flew up nicely for Reina to claim and in injury time, Johnson had a shot when it opened up in front of him, but Friedel saved with his legs and as soon as that had happened the ref blew up for half time.  I don't remember anything in the rules about playing on until an attack is over.

Throughout the first half, Andy Carroll had been moaning at the ref, about anything and everything, with Gerrard and Bellamy also bending the ref's ear more than they were doing the ball.  The pressure on them to win at home is massive and at the moment, they are not up to that task, with seven home draws in the league before tonight's match.

As mentioned in the preview, their failure to score is what is costing them and although there weren't a host of chance sin this match, they failed to beat the Tottenham defence.  The second half started in fractious fashion, with Gerrard having a shot blocked by Ledley King (and Spurs did that particularly well tonight, with Dawson and Parker the prime exponents).  Then Bale was running through as Skrtel shaped to clatter him, so Gareth moved to avoid the contact and went down without being touched.  Agger got involved and started abusing Bale, who got up and reacted, getting a yellow card which could have been for simulation or retaliation.

Having been wound up, when the ball did drop for Bale in the area, he snatched at the shot and put it well wide.  At the other end, Friedel pushed away a shot by Kelly and from the corner, Agger didn't react when the ball came over a head and his header went weakly wide.   Then, with the chants of "You know what you are" ringing in the chilly night air, Luis Suarez made his entrance after a suspension for racial abuse against Patrick Evra.  Spurs fans were not disappointed as he proved to be the epitome of what is wrong with Liverpool.

One of his first actions was to have a shot that was blocked, then when the ball went up in the air in a subsequent attack, he nudged Scott Parker and then looked to see where he was before volleying him in the stomach.  it looked an intentional action and while the referee saw enough of it to book the player, he could not have noticed the glance to locate Parker and then make it look like an "accident".  It could easily have been red and if not for that, a later shot was blocked by King in the area, the ball bounced back to be brought down by Suarez's arm and then he claimed a penalty against the Spurs skipper for handball.  When a player with talent resorts to this level of gamesmanship, it is a stain on his character and on his manager, who fails to mention it or fails to try and erase it from his game.  You tend to think that he will get his comeuppance again in the near future (maybe when they play Man U next week).

Spurs brought on Louis Saha for his debut and he ran about a bit, while Bale ran through finishing his break with a shot that went wide.  But the pressure was building on the Tottenham defence, with the ball constantly coming straight back at them, without anyone to hold it up away from their own 18 yard box.  Andy Carroll should have scored when a ball from the right was pulled back to him and he controlled the ball before hammering it way over.

On another rare break, Bale was away if he could have controlled the ball, but with his back to the Liverpool goal (albeit 35 yards out), he was clattered by Skrtel, who had been looking for some sort of sick revenge for getting sent off at the Lane earlier this season and might have repeated the feat, as he used excessive force in his tackle, following through on Bale's calf.  Instead he only saw yellow.  In fact, five minutes from the end, it looked like Gareth might win it against the run of play, when Kranjcar played a through ball from inside his own half that saw Bale lose Johnson and race through for a one on one with Reina.  Usually, you would have backed Bale, but he didn't hit his shot with a great contact and he aimed it through the keeper's legs, but he managed to block the ball and the chance had gone.

Liverpool then had a late chance from a  free-kick, when Suarez got a head on it five yards out, but his header went straight into Brad's arms.  A yard either side and he might have had more trouble claiming the ball.

A draw did not suit either side, but in the end, they both had to settle for a point and perhaps Tottenham were more grateful than the home side, who must have thought they should have won.  It preserves our buffer between us and Chelsea and while we slip further behind City, we stay in touch with United (just).

It is an important month for the club and the fixtures to come are testing ones, especially with injuries and the youthful bench we had on show tonight.  Hopefully, we can get a good return from the next four games to keep us in the chase.

Kirk Hammerton



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What you thought



Other scores during this week :
Arsenal 7 Blackburn Rovers 1 Saturday
Manchester City 3 Fulham 0 Saturday
Norwich City 2 Bolton Wanderers 0 Saturday
Queens Park Rangers 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Saturday
Stoke City 0 Sunderland 1 Saturday
West Bromwich Albion 1 Swansea City 2 Saturday
Wigan Athletic 1 Everton 1 Saturday
Chelsea 3 Manchester United 3 Sunday
Newcastle United 2 Aston Villa 1 Sunday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester City 24 18 3 3 63 19 57 +44
2 Manchester United 24 17 4 3 59 24 55 +35
3 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 24 15 5 4 44 25 50 +19
4 Chelsea 24 12 7 5 44 30 43 +15
5 Newcastle United 24 12 6 6 36 31 42 +5
6 Arsenal 24 12 4 8 46 34 40 +12
7 Liverpool 24 10 9 5 28 21 39 +7
8 Sunderland 24 9 6 9 33 24 33 +9
9 Norwich City 24 8 8 8 34 39 32 -5
10 Swansea City 24 7 9 8 28 31 30 -3
11 Everton 24 8 6 10 24 27 30 -3
12 Stoke City 24 8 6 10 23 36 30 -13
13 Aston Villa 24 6 10 8 29 33 28 -4
14 Fulham 24 6 9 9 29 35 27 -6
15 West Bromwich Albion 24 7 5 13 24 34 26 -20
16 Queens Park Rangers 24 5 6 13 25 41 21 -16
17 Wolverhampton Wanderers 24 5 6 12 27 44 21 -17
18 Bolton Wanderers 24 6 2 16 28 49 20 -21
19 Blackburn Rovers 24 4 6 14 34 54 18 -20
20 Wigan Athletic 24 3 7 14 21 49 16 -28


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


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