COMPETITION Premier League
DATE Sunday 15th December 2013
VENUE White Hart Lane






With Liverpool riding unexpectedly high in the table, it will be a tough test of Tottenham's credentials for a top four finish, but the key may be in stopping supply of chances to Luis Suarez.  The controversial striker has been scoring at will of late and it will take a lot to stop him, although Spurs have the players, if they are fit, to do so.

The last few games have seen Tottenham adopt a more high tempo game, with the ball being moved through the midfield much quicker, although Liverpool tend to operate at a slower pace, preferring to hold onto the ball.  But they can also play more directly to feed Suarez and Spurs must be aware of the ability to change the pace of an attack.  With Soldado scoring in midweek, he might be preferred to Defoe, as the chances might be harder to come by on Sunday, because it is at the back that Liverpool are a little vulnerable.

Without their talisman skipper Gerrard, it will fall upon Lucas to try and galvanise the midfield, although Jordan Henderson might be fit.  Despite the former Sunderland man's return to some sort of form, his presence might help Spurs, as he can be by-passed and with Phillipe Coutinho not the most defensive midfielder, it will heap a lot of work on Lucas and maybe Joe Allen or Victor Moses.  Both of these players are more used to having the ball rather than winning it, so there might be joy in numbers there for Tottenham, but the midfielders will need to eb keen to get up and support our lone striker to then pressure the Liverpool back four. 

While they have pretty sound at home, Liverpool have looked a different side away from Anfield and while Agger and Skertl are tough central defenders, they do sometimes lose their composure and then they get pulled out of position.  This could leave holes for Spurs to exploit and both of them are a little rash in the tackle, which could provide dead ball opportunities around the box, which we might have to make the most of.    It could be that Rodgers prefers Mamadou Sakho and Kolo Toure at the back to strength the middle with experience and strength, but Toure is on old legs and might not be able to keep up with the pace of the game if Spurs employ a high tempo style.  At full back, the Reds will be missing Jose Enrique, so the pairing will most probably be Glen Johnson and Aly Cissokho, giving them a bit of attacking threat from there, but Johnson is not the greatest at realising the space he leaves in behind him and our wingers could make hay there. 

The singing of Simon Mingolet is an inspired move, as he is less prone to mistake than his predecessor, Pepe Reina and is a fins shot stopper.  Not great on crosses, he can make misjudgements in coming out, so there might be scope to get players running through from deep and Townsend and Lennon might benefit from that most..

I think that the two teams will be looking to get something out of this game.  Spurs to improve their dodgy home form and Liverpool to make their away from look a bit better.  Rodgers will set up to try and hold the ball and frustrate Spurs, but with a good home performance against Manchester United behind us, the thought of that should give the team confidence.  However, I can see the game ending in a draw with both teams relatively happy with a point apiece.

PREDICTION Tottenham Hotspur    1         Liverpool    1
Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.
Spurs have Danny Rose and Christian Eriksen back in contention in the squad after playing a part of Thursday's Europa League win over Anzhi Makhachkala and Tottenham will hope Jan Vertonghen has recovered sufficiently to play in the match.  Younes Kaboul's quadriceps injury keeps him out and Harry Kane's back still rules him out, while Emmanuel Adebayor has an injury that keeps him out of AVB's thoughts.  Vlad Chiriches will face a late test on his knee.
Steven Gerrard will be missing with a hamstring pull, but there is better news in that Jordan Henderson will be fit for the game.  Daniel Sturridge is sidelined with the injury he aggravated playing for England and Jose Enrique and Sebastian Coates are both out long term with knee injuries. Daniel Agger should be fit again for consideration.

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Tottenham Hotspur  0 (0)                                                               Liverpool  5 (2)
Premier League
Sunday 15th December 2013                                                                                                             Kick off 16:00
White Hart Lane
None Suarez 18
Henderson 40
Flanagan 75
Suarez 84
Sterling 89
Dawson (foul on Henderson)  27
Walker (foul on Flanagan)  43
Holtby (foul on Allen)  66 

Paulinho (foul on Suarez)  63





Crowd :   36,069 Weather :  Rainy, but mild
Referee :  Jon Moss (Leeds) Assistant Referees :  Mr. S. Bennett; Mr. S. Child
Fourth Official :  Andre Marriner -
Liverpool kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.
Tottenham Hotspur : kit Liverpool : kit
25  Hugo LLORIS

  2  Kyle WALKER     
20  Michael DAWSON (c)     
15  Etienne CAPOUE
16  Kyle NAUGHTON      (35  Zeki FRYERS 46)

19  Mousa DEMBELE  (17  Andros TOWNSEND 61)
30  SANDRO (14  Lewis HOLTBY 30     )

  7  Aaron LENNON
  8  PAULINHO     
21  Nacer CHADLI

  9  Roberto SOLDADO

Unused subs: 
11  Erik LAMELA
18  Jermain DEFOE

  22  Simon MINGOLET

  2  Glen JOHNSON
37  Martin SKRTEL
17  Mamadou SAKHO
38  John FLANAGAN 

24  Joe ALLEN
14  Jordan HENDERSON 
21  LUCAS  (  6  Luis ALBERTO 79)
10  Phillipe COUTINHO  (12  Victor MOSES 90)

31  Raheem STERLING 

  7  Luis SUAREZ    

Unused subs: 
  1  Brad JONES
  4  Kolo TOURE
34  Martin KELLY
  5  Daniel AGGER
  9  Iago ASPAS

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

Liverpool gave Spurs a real footballing lesson in beating them 5-0 and while the calls for AVB's head and the boos rang around White Hart Lane, perhaps the more balanced view would have seen Spurs fans applauding Liverpool for their performance.   Even in their pomp on the 1970s and 1980s, they rarely played that well here.  I remember Keegan and Toshack tearing us apart early one season in the 70s, but this was  a different class.

Having said that, the task was made considerably easier by some frankly League Two refereeing by the lardy man in yellow with the whistle.  He seemed keen enough to use it when Liverpool players hit the turf, with some like Jordan Henderson squealing before he had even been tackled, but when Spurs players were blatantly pushed over, he waved play on.  His piece de resistance came when Brazilian Coutinho kicked the floor with nobody around him in the box and sprawled face down.  There was no real decision to make, but Moss (perhaps so named after the hapless worker in "The IT crowd") swept his hands across each other in front of him to indicate that it was not a penalty.  Well, no shit Sherlock !!  A yellow card for diving might have been more appropriate and more in keeping with the ref's erratic whistling.  When Henderson back-heeled a free kick straight to Soldado on the half way line, the referee (who must have eyes in the back of his head) demanded it be taken again, for what reason I do not know ... and I am not sure he would, as he was facing the other way at the time.

Another match following a Europa League game and another loss. That is 50% of our games following Thursday night action ending in no points. With all the talk about us not even finishing in Europe this season, perhaps it will be better for next season's campaign, looking at our experience this time out.

Spurs started reasonably well, with early closing down of Mingolet causing him to kick the ball out. Also, some neat passing on the right almost got Soldado and Lennon in, with Paulinho putting a quickly taken shot over the top.

Liverpool had threatened, when a header out by Capoue went straight to Suarez and his pass to Coutinho saw his shot fail to trouble Lloris. The Spurs keeper was hampered in getting to a corner and his punch failed to clear the penalty area, but he was helped out by his defence, who got the ball away. A low Liverpool free-kick in to the near post almost caused a problem, with the ball pinging about, then four corners were won on the trot by the visitors, before they took the lead.

In the seventeenth minute, Suarez played a ball in to Henderson, who was slide tackled by Dawson, but regained possession and slipped it to the Uruguay striker, who side-stepped a challenge by Walker and stroked the ball past Lloris to give Liverpool the lead. Spurs had played themselves into problems with passes to players with no options and the goal had been coming.

There were passes being played through our back line and when Sterling put Suarez away, it looked like it would be 2-0, but Hugo managed to hold him up and push him a little wide, blocking the shot with the inside of his leg to give away a corner.

Spurs did rally a little, getting Soldado to head at goal, then producing a couple of crosses, but they were over-hit. A shot from way out left deflected off Sakho but went straight to Mingolet. It was an afternoon when Liverpool made their luck and the ball fell their way. A shot into the ground by Coutinho bounced up onto the bar and out, with the clearance fired back at goal by Johnson, with it missing by being a foot too high.

Spurs then lost Sandro with what looked like a hamstring pull, with Holtby coming on and Paulinho getting moved back into the defensive midfield two. Chadli had a chance with a free header from a corner, but he could not keep it down and it flew a foot over from a corner. That was after half an hour, but two minutes later, Tottenham almost fell further behind. Skrtel's clearance ended up as a through ball, which Lloris came out of the box to head away, but only headed it sideways and had to recover to block Suarez's shot after he latched onto the loose ball.

But Spurs fought back, with Chadli putting one cross too long and another to Soldado, but he could not get much behind his shot and it went straight at Mingolet. Then Soldado did well to get to the dead ball line and pull it back for Holtby, but he could get his feet sorted out and his shot was scuffed wide of the right hand post. Then, much as had happened twenty minutes earlier, Spurs conceded.

Henderson was put through and Lloris made a good block, but the ball went to Suarez, who shot and it was saved by a leaping Hugo, but this time it popped up for Henderson to volley low past a defender on the line to make it 2-0.

Spurs thought that they had got a goal back before half-time, when Mingolet mis-controlled a back pass and took it wide to his right inside his area, where Soldado closed him down and charged him over before putting the ball into an empty net. Moss ruled it out, with one decision he probably got right.

Things had to change and AVB brought on Fryers for Naughton in an attempt to have a natural left back playing against Sterling. It did work to a certain extent, but further limited our options for change, with only one substitution left.

But straight away, Spurs created a chance with Holtby sliding a pass down the right side of the box for Soldado to run onto it and go for power rather than precision, resulting in his shot rising way over the goal. But then play moved to the other end, with Coutinho getting free running in from the left and Kyle Walker got across to deflect his shot wide. From the corner, centre-half Sakho rose unchallenged to head powerfully at goal from a couple of yards out, but could only hit the top of the post with his effort.

Tottenham had a half chance, which Soldado volleyed over and then Lennon raced away past Flanagan on the right, but ran out of space before the ball went out. They then had a couple of dead ball situations played dangerously into the Reds' box, before bringing on Townsend for Dembele. But almost straight away, the change was undermined when Paulinho went for a bouncing ball and was adjudged to have kicked Suarez in the face in the centre circle. With most people expecting a yellow card, Moss couldn't wait to get a red out of his pocket and Spurs were down to ten men.

Having had enough trouble coping with eleven, Spurs found it even harder and not being able to use the ball with less opportunity to find a man and Liverpool's extra man gave them more options in possession.

While there were a couple of attacks, it was really all Liverpool, who held onto the ball and picked Spurs open when they wanted. Suarez was denied by Lloris, who stood up and touched his shot wide, Coutinho curled a shot wide when free on the edge of the box and then Henderson back-heeled the ball past a defender just right of the box and Suarez picked out Flanagan at the far post, with the full back hitting the net off the underside of the bar.

Then it was four, as Suarez was put through left of centre to lift the ball over Lloris as he rushed out. That became five at the end, when Suarez slipped a pass through Tottenham's square defence and Sterling slotted past the keeper to round off a miserable afternoon in footballing and weather terms.

So, what did Spurs fans make of it ? Some of the comments I heard on the way out of the ground were frankly unbelievable.
“We spent £40 million pounds and none of them are any good.”
“Two Brazilians we signed and the only two who can't play football.”
“Justin Edinburgh could have done a better job than Naughton.”
“AVB has been told to go straight upstairs and he has not been allowed in the dressing room.”

If AVB was to be sacked, then who takes over ?

Would anyone else have been able to cope with Liverpool in this form ?  You can bet they didn't play like that in their defeat against Hull.

And what would have happened if we had got a penalty when Soldado was hauled down and Paulinho not been sent off ?

All ifs and buts, although things could have been different. Liverpool deserved their win for a display of effort, passing and movement. And that is something that we should aim to replicate.

The Heathrow Spur


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What you thought
Adam A.V.B. = B.Y.E. NO MORE EXCUSES ... was it the crowd too quiet ?  Maybe the wind blew to hard in our players faces ? 

The blame lies with A.V.B. Its like going back to the bad old days of Gross and Shreeves and Ramos - this is nothing short of a disgrace.

No goals at home again.  Soldado may as well get the lawn mower out and save the groundsman a job as he is not getting the service and change his name to SOLOado.

Scraping a win at Sunderland (thanks to a blind ref) and Fulham is not good enough.

P.S.  I'm writing a letter to Santa tonight asking for a new manager for my team.

Benny The Ball Did anyone notice that Liverpool played probably better than they have in the last ten years and that we didn't ?

A bit like Man City, but that was when AVB had eleven men at his disposal.

Let's not get carried away by one result (or two if you include the City match). 

We have other things to worry about, as we failed to create a decent chance and didn't hold onto the ball.  Mainly because Liverpool were pressing us all over the field and not allowing us to play.  Imagine them as a Stoke who can pass the ball to their own players.  The sort of team we don't like to play against and one who were facing a back four who were not that used to playing together.

Not that theses are excuses, but the defeat is one which can be linked to thee things, as well as our midfield having a massive off day.

AVB has said that he is responsible and in trying to take the heat of the players, he is heaping it on himself.

Don't let us be like Chelsea and ditch someone for a few bad results.  With the injuries we have and the players still taking time to settle in, we have not found a pattern or method that suits us yet.  Yes, that is the manager's job, but he can only do so much and when they cross that white line ... it's down to them.  Sandro's departure meant a re-organisation of the side and then, at 0-2 down and looking like we might get back in the game, Paulinho got sent off.  I am sure that wouldn't have been in AVB's plan.  Three goals after that were the least that a side playing like Liverpool were should have scored ... and frankly, they should have had more.

They were well worth their win.  No doubt.  But needs to be addressed is the way we are failing to play like them.  The incisive passing is missing, leaving Soldado stranded with no supply.

Wyart Lane I'm looking forward to having Neil Warnock as our next manager ... or maybe we can get Redknapp back.
- -.



Other scores during this week :
Cardiff City 1 West Bromwich Albion 0 Saturday
Chelsea 2 Crystal Palace 1 Saturday
Everton 4 Fulham 1 Saturday
Hull City 0 Stoke City 0 Saturday
Manchester City 6 Arsenal 3 Saturday
Newcastle United 1 Southampton 1 Saturday
West Ham United 0 Sunderland 0 Saturday
Norwich City 1 Swansea City 1 Sunday
Aston Villa 0 Manchester United 3 Sunday




League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Arsenal 16 11 2 3 33 17 35 +16
2 Liverpool 16 10 3 3 39 18 33 +21
3 Chelsea 16 11 3 3 32 18 33 +14
4 Manchester City 16 10 2 4 47 18 32 +29
5 Everton 15 7 7 1 23 14 28 +9
6 Newcastle United 16 8 3 5 21 22 27 -1
7 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 16 8 3 5 15 21 27 -6
8 Manchester United 16 7 4 5 25 19 25 +6
9 Southampton 16 6 6 4 20 14 24 +6
10 Swansea City 16 5 5 6 22 21 20 +1
11 Aston Villa 16 5 4 7 16 21 19 -5
12 Hull City 16 5 4 7 13 19 19 -6
13 Stoke City 16 4 5 7 14 18 18 -4
14 Norwich City 16 5 3 8 15 29 18 -14
15 Cardiff City 16 4 5 7 12 22 17 -10
16 West Bromwich Albion 16 3 6 7 17 22 15 -5
17 West Ham United 16 3 5 8 13 19 14 -6
18 Fulham 16 4 1 11 15 30 13 -15
19 Crystal Palace 16 4 1 11 11 24 13 -13
20 Sunderland 16 2 3 11 12 30 9 -19

Position before match :  7th
Position after match :  7th
Position after the weekend :  7th

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