|DATE||Sunday 18th September 2011|
|VENUE||White Hart Lane|
|Having spent a
whole bunch of money in the summer - approaching Manchester City
size proportions - Liverpool arrive at White Hart Lane with a
bulging squad, but it is still lacking depth in certain areas, for
all of Damien Comolli's claim that the squad is not complete.
The American owners of the club have backed Kenny Dalglish with a large amount of money to bring in players, adding to the big money signings of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll last season.
Very big money was spent on Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson, while substantial investment in the likes of Jose Enrique, Charlie Adam and Sebastian Coates was added to by the free signings of goalkeeper Doni and Welsh forward Craig Bellamy. Alongside this a long list of players have departed, from fringe players, to some big names, including Raul Meireles heading for Stamford Bridge on the final day of the transfer window.
Having had so many changes, the team seem to have settled well and the opening day draw with Sunderland at home was followed by a 2-0 away win at Highbury. Since then, things have flattened out a bit with a home win over Bolton tempered with a 0-1 defeat at Stoke last week.
So, they come to meet Spurs and the games are usually an open affair with plenty of chances. But this time it might be a bit more cagey, with Liverpool aware that Tottenham may be one of their challengers for the fourth place Champions League spot they are aiming for. Of course, if you don't get that position come May, you could end up in the Europa League and that is where Spurs were on Thursday, but Harry's selection means that most of the starting eleven on Sunday will have been spared that trip to Greece.
With the midfield of Liverpool being one of their strongest areas, they can afford to leave gets back to playing after a groin infection and the width of Downing will be designed to stretch the midfield and to provide chances for Suarez, who I think is a more likely starter than Carroll, who might come on late in the game as a sub. Suarez is a highly skilled finisher, but I find him the sort of player how belies his ability by trying to get decisions from referees by diving and also shows a fair amount of dissent. But he is effective and the only drawback he might find is that he tots up the yellow cards and misses games because of it.
In midfield, Henderson is an up and coming talent, but I have yet to see him as a regular quality Premier League performer. he is capable of good passing and can score, but the signing seemed to be one of potential than having already achieved things. However, with Lucas alongside him to do the leg-work and Charlie Adam who is a provider from dead ball situations and a scorer from them too, they have a mix of players in that part of the team.
With Pepe Reina being one of the most consistent goalkeepers in the Premier League, they have a reliable last line of defence, but it is the line of defence in front of him that may be Liverpool's Achilles heel.
While Jamie Carragher is an "up and at 'em" gritty central defender, he was never the quickest and now is slowing even more, so you will see him committing last ditch tackles, which are not always perfectly timed and his use of the shirt-pull is increasing with age. Witness his foul that conceded the penalty at Stoke. There is scope to exploit this and there is always the chance that he will add to his tally of Tottenham goals notched throughout his career. Dalglish did make an astute signing in Jose Enrique from Newcastle United, as he is a solid defender who likes to get forward and showed with the Toon that he is dependable in the full back position. On the other side, John Flanagan may be playing and is one of the young players that Dalglish has blooded and the defender has taken that literally, with a physical approach that has seen him collect yellow cards for his "robust" style. With Glen Johnson and Martin Kelly injured along with defenders having been moved out in the transfer window, the back line is one area where an incoming transfer in August might have benefited the side.
One player who has been at Anfield for a time is Martin Skrtel and Kenny Dalglish is content that he will be starting and will be able to deal with Gareth Bale's pace up the left wing. Whether this means that his physical approach might encourage Bale to not try so many lung-busting runs, but the Welshman is becoming adept at hurdling tackles and I don't think the Czech defender has the speed to track him back.
With Spurs playing two up front now, it will be imperative that they get the service they need against Liverpool to create chances. However, I see the Reds coming to the Lane to emphasise the progress they have made since Roy Hodgson left and the midfield could be congested, as they drop Kuyt in as a deep lying striker, who will bulk up the engine room. For that reason, it might frustrate Tottenham and the visitors might travel home with a point.
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 1 Liverpool 1|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , history, etc.|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Spurs are still without Sandro (knee), Steven Pienaar (groin), Michael Dawson (Achilles), Tom Huddlestone (ankle), Danny Rose (ankle), Aaron Lennon (groin) and William Gallas (calf). Rafael van der Vaart has an outside chance of playing following his hamstring injury and Ledley King will train ahead of the game to assess his fitness for the match.
LIVERPOOL TEAM NEWS :
Steven Gerrard is unlikely to be risked as he starts his comeback from a groin infection and Glen Johnson will also not be part of the Liverpool side as his hamstring is playing up.
available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard
in these countries on these stations ...
4 (1) Liverpool 0 (0)
Sunday 18th Liverpool 2011 Kick off 13:30
White Hart Lane
Adebayor (foul) 24
Adam (foul) 12
Skrtel (foul) 36
Coates (foul) 40
Suarez (dissent) 45+5
|Crowd : 36,129||Weather : - Sunny, warm|
|Referee : Mike Jones (Cheshire)||Assistant Referees : - (-)|
|Fourth Official : -||-|
|Liverpool kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Liverpool :||kit|
der Vaart 46)
|Manager : Harry Redknapp||Manager : Kenny Dalglish|
|Sponsor : Aurasma||Shirt sponsor : Carlsberg|
|Kit Supplier : Puma||Kit Supplier : Adidas|
What looked on paper a troublesome fixture against a newly replenished Liverpool team under the guidance of Kenny Dalglish, became a training ground exercise not far removed from Thursday's Europa League game in Greece, as Spurs dominated from the start and once Charlie Adam had received his red card, followed in the second half by Martin Skrtel, things were simply straightforward, as chances were carved out in what ended a 4-0 victory.
With the team that started at Molineux the previous week, Spurs began the game at a tempo that they seem to enjoy and one which puts opponents on the back foot from the first whistle. So much so, that while Liverpool had a good move that ended with Stewart Downing putting in the first of a series of poor crosses into the box, they provided more moments of danger at the end defended by Pepe Reina. As Tottenham opened Liverpool up on the right side of their defence at will, Bale and Assou-Ekotto were engineering good openings.
Kranjcar almost set up Adebayor for his first home goal in the third minute, when he chested down a long clearance into the Togo international's path and he took it first time to try and catch Reina out, but could only put it wide of the keeper's right hand post from twelve yards out. Bale's left wing run almost set up Defoe at the near post, but the next time the little striker was involved a goal did result. Bale's ball into JD on the edge of the box saw him tackled and hit the floor, but as the ball ran free, Luka Modric ran onto it and slammed it first time into the top left hand corner of the net.
But a yellow card for a rugby tackle by Charlie Adam in the 12th minute was more crucial than anyone might have thought at the time. Scott Parker had nicked the ball off him and as Modric ran past him, the only way he could stop him was to drag him to the floor. Shortly after, Defoe and Kranjcar were thwarted by blocks and when the ball came out to Luka, he curled a low shot that Reina got down well to, but could only push aside. Emmanuel Adebayor kept it alive and dinked a cross back into the penalty box, but there was not a white shirt there to take advantage. Bale got away on the left once more and almost picked out Defoe at the near post, but when the ball moved to the other end of the pitch, Liverpool got it in the net, but it was ruled out. Charlie Adam headed the ball at goal as Ledley King and Kyle Walker failed to deal with a high, bouncing ball, but it was blocked and when Carroll prodded the ball through to Luis Suarez, he ticked it away, but had been flagged offside. The reaction of the player became one which was to become irritatingly familiar throughout the game.
In the build up to the goal, Daniel Agger slipped in the penalty area and received treatment, but could not carry on following the restart and had to be replaced by Sebastian Coates. He had long flowing locks like our very own Ralphie, but that proved to be less than any likeness to the late Spurs winger. In fact, a crude hauling down of Adebayor earned the Uruguayan a yellow card latter in the half. Adebayor shot over and Defoe had been denied a chance as Reina raced out to gather the ball at his feet, but a minute after the substitution, Adam put in a studs up challenge on Parker's shin as he raced in to have a shot on the edge of the box, which might have warranted a straight red, but only got a second yellow, which brought the same result anyway. Liverpool were in the referee's face all the time and surely the FA need to look at their behaviour.
Although Liverpool were punished by having a man sent off, it went no further than that as our usual routine at free-kicks saw Bale hit the wall and the ball bounced out and was wasted. Five minutes later Bale was at it again, following a foul on Defoe. A foul by Skrtel on the Welshman, who was too fast for him, brought another yellow card for the Reds. Kyle Walker was showing good pace up the right and got to the dead ball line, but his cross was collected by Reina and later in the half, he got into the same position and waited to try and pick out a team-mate in the sic yard box, but Coates blocked it out for a corner.
Spurs were making chances from all angles. A corner saw Defoe volley goal-wards at the far post before Enrique got the ball away from in front of goal and then from that corner Kaboul got to the bal with his head, but put it wide. It looked promising when Bale slipped the ball inside Skrtel, as he moved forward to try and intercept it, releasing Assou-Ekotto on the left, but the cross was cut out by Carragher, who normally would have stuck it in his own net in a game against us.
Half-time came, with a yellow card for Suarez abusing a linesman after he did not get a free-kick for a foul and it went the other way, despite him swinging Kaboul round. It was hilarious to watch, as the referee had initially walked away, but as Suarez continued, the ref thought he needed to book him and crept up on him from behind to show the yellow card right in his face. More histrionics ensued and he was lucky not to get another one to add to it.
A weird half-time prize shoot-out saw a Spurs fan have to shoot from various distances into the net without the ball bouncing. This was accompanied by Rafael van der Vaart warming up vigorously with the fitness coach and then nearly decapitating a ball-girl who happened to be standing by the post when the Dutchman ripped a shot wide of the mark. A video tribute to Bobby Smith, who died a year to the day and an appearance by Jonathan Trott filled the interval, with van der Vaart coming out for Kranjcar for the second half.
And there was more of the same from Tottenham, as they enjoyed a huge amount of possession and once more made openings, which, as they failed to take them, made the crowd a little anxious, as a 1-0 lead was a bit of a tenuous one. Defoe was put in by Adebayor and his finish was wide, then he had one blocked allowing Reina to take it comfortably, while Bale dragged a shot across goal and van der Vaart tried to curl a right wing free-kick into the far top corner rather than aim for one of the many Spurs players in the box. A moment's concern came from a long throw that Carroll flicked on and Suarez tried to overhead kick from a few yards out, but Benoit was behind him and blocked his shot.
In the 58th minute, the blooming partnership between Defoe and Adebayor saw the former slide a pass out to his left for the man on loan from Manchester City try to take another early shot, but it lacked power and went straight at Reina. The obnoxious Suarez threw himself to the floor on the edge of the box when he bumped into Kaboul and won a free-kick, with all his team-mates gathering around the ref to try and persuade him it was a penalty, but the Uruguayan was fit enough to get up and smash the ball over the top to the jeers of the crowd.
More jeers followed in the 67th minute as Skrtel put in a late tackle on bale from behind to bring him down long after the ball had gone and the ref produced the yellow card and then a red to see him leave the field. Liverpool were ill-disciplined enough but down to nine, they were left chasing shadows, as Spurs comfortably passed the ball around and scored a quick two goals in a few minutes. In the 66th minute, Modric passed to van der Vaart and the Dutchman slipped the ball through the middle of the Liverpool defence for Defoe. While Enrique caught up with him, after looking offside, Defoe was strong enough to hold him off and turn him just inside the box and fire a low shot inside Reina's left hand post with the keeper not making much of an effort to stop it.
Within three minutes, it was 3-0 as Emmanuel Adebayor took the ball when Reina fumbled a fierce shot from Defoe and dinked it over the prostrate Spaniard before he could react, picking the ball up on the other side of the keeper and knocking the bal into an empty net. It was a neat bit of skill that put Spurs out of reach.
Dalglish's final throw of the dice was to bring on Bellamy and Spearing for Suarez and Downing, who were both disappointing for different reasons. Spur splayed keep-ball and cut through Liverpool when they felt like it. Bale set up van der Vaart, but his shot was blocked by Coates, dos Santos failed to get onto Assou-Ekotto's low cross and Bale shot over when well positioned. Parker picked out van der Vaart going into the left side of the box and through on Reina, he tried to lift the bal over the goalie, but didn't get enough elevation on the ball.
Liverpool were trying to show some resistance with Spearing firing a long way wide and Carroll couldn't get enough contact on a low ball in from Enrique.
But these were two isolated incidents when Spurs had many more of their own to talk about. Then last of which came deep into injury time, when Assou-Ekotto picked out Adebayor at the far post and with time and space he took the ball down and fired past Reina to make it 4-0.
While Bellamy tried a shot straight from the kick off that had Friedel scurrying across his goal, it went a couple of feet wide and brought the final whistle from Mike Jones, who hadn't had the most consistent game, but got the major decisions right and I am sure TV replays will prove that.
Luka Modric was at the heart of everything that wad good about Spurs today and if we can keep playing like this, then we might be able to win the things that he wants and get a place in the top four to get Champions League football. Every Spurs player did well and restricted Liverpool to a few chances, but they played their football with more of a crispness and hunger than the Scousers, leaving them with only sour memories of their trip to White hart Lane once again.
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|What you thought|
This was a shameful performance from a
once great club, but they came out of it with little sympathy and
showed that the class that once characterised their achievements now
looks as tarnished as the fading glories of the trophies in their
Dalglish's comments about refs being against his side back-fire don him, as his psycho games only worked to fire up his side, who used cynical tactics and excessive force on too many occasions. Added to that the distasteful sight of Jamie Carragher dragging Skrtel further into the pitch to delay his dismissal so that his side could get a substitute on was nothing more than cheating and I hope the FA might look at that, but doubt they will.
Charlie Adam's rough-house tactics finally came home to roost, with a grab around Modric's waist and a tackle that nearly too Parker's leg off bringing red card that might have been four months in coming, but justice was served in the end.
Luka Modric turned in a super performance with some exquisite passing and movement topped off with a cracking goal. His head might not have been in the right place a couple of weeks ago, but on this occasion the ball ended up in the right place. And Scott Parker goes about his work with little fuss, but is very effective in breaking up moves, then passing the ball to Bale, van der Vaart of Modric to start moves.
Harry got the team right for this one and on this evidence, Liverpool will not be a contender for the top four, which is why I was disappointed in their performance, hoping to see what they had done with all that money and how they were playing. Downing has never impressed me much and today, he looked like £20 million badly spent, as did Henderson, who I kept forgetting was on the pitch. Carroll only has one mode and that didn't work, with him only winning headers when he dropped back to defend. Carragher is a spent force, with Skrtel and Agger looking like they need replacing. Enrique looked alright but on one occasion when he brought the ball out of defence, he had nobody making an angle to receive the bal and just gave up. Spearing came on and was out of breath within ten minutes, so there appear to be more basic problems there than just tactics.
It was good that both Defoe and Adebayor scored again and that we kept going until the end to repair some of the goal difference damage that had been done in previous games.
|The Funky Phantom||With Luis Suarez playing
like a Sunday League pub player with the threat of implied violence
and a cynical edge to his game that does not endear him to anyone,
Liverpool were clogging Spurs out of the game until they were
reduced to nine men.
Modric gave Tottenham a fine opening goal, but they had to wait until Defoe used the upper body strength he gained in the summer with a French trainer to hold off Enrique and fire the ball past Reina. Adebayor delicately lifted the ball over Reina as the keeper couldn't hold Defoe's drive and scored the third when he got the ball the other side of the prone keeper. You couldn't imagine Crouch showing that composure in a similar situation.
Adebayor rounded things off with a late injury time goal as Benny picked him out well and the striker slammed it past the goalie.
But Suarez got off lightly with Adam and Skrtel taking the centre stage with red cards, but the Uruguayan showed how unpopular he can be. He caught Scott Parker around the throat with a stray arm, dived to get a free kick on the edge of the box and then managed to fire it into the Park Lane crowd. And best of all, he wrestled King to the floor and was astounded when HE didn't get a free kick, turning to abuse the linesman and not seeing the referee creep up on him from behind to flash a yellow card right in his face. His continued abuse might have been worthy of a further yellow card, but he got away with it. However, he did not make much more footballing contribution before he left the pitch to be replaced.
Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing showed nothing to make Spurs fans upset at their signing for Liverpool instead and the whole Liverpool side failed to live with the early pace that Tottenham began the game with.
We will not be taken in by a big win against nine poor men, but the way that Spurs went about their play when they were in the numerical advantage was pleasing, as in past times, the advantage wasn't made to count.
Still ... our Opta stats for passes must be sky high after the second half when they played keep ball for long periods to tire out the Reds.
|Marky Mark||Glad I am not the only
one who thinks Suarez is a cheating wimp.
Did anyone in the East Stand hear the shriek he let out before he was even tackled in front of the lower East in the second half.
What a jerk the bloke is.
|Other scores during this week :|
|Aston Villa||1||Newcastle United||1||Saturday|
|Bolton Wanderers||1||Norwich City||2||Saturday|
|Swansea City||3||West Bromwich Albion||0||Saturday|
|Wolverhampton Wanderers||0||Queens Park Rangers||3||Saturday|
|9||Queens Park Rangers||5||2||1||2||4||6||7||-2|
|20||West Bromwich Albion||5||1||0||4||3||8||3||-5|
Position before match :
Position after match : 11th
Position after the weekend : 11th
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