COMPETITION Premier League
DATE Sunday  30th March 2014
VENUE Anfield






Tottenham travel to Liverpool to face one of the form teams in the Premier League. With the strike partnership of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, the goal threat is one which will test the resoluteness of the Spurs back four, with other areas of the team needing to show some steel to keep the Reds at bay.

Spurs could be without Emmanuel Adebayor, but if replaced by Roberto Soldado, there would only be one striker playing, which would give the home team scope to push their full backs on. While the 4-2-3-1 formation might make the side look more solid, by inviting Liverpool to enter the Spurs half, they have the players and movement to unpick our defence, with the midfielders needing to put in good shifts up and down the pitch to make sure that the ball does not keep coming straight back when it is cleared.

Strangely, The Liverpool defence has looked vulnerable and any team that concedes three against Cardiff can’t have a great back four. Mign
olet had a very good season last time out, but, this season, he has not been at his best, but as always, we need to put keepers under pressure by getting shots on target. It showed what happens when you do that when we got back to 3-2 against Southampton. Skrtel and Agger are the main central defensive pairing, with Skrtel being a liability, as he shirt-pulls and loses concentration, but Agger is a steadier presence. Mamadou Sakho is a strong central defender, who has been sparingly, but did feature in their last game against Sunderland, while Martin Kelly was a bright prospect, although he has slipped back in the reckoning since Rodgers took over as manager.

The full backs had an easy time in the game at the Lane, but Glen Johnson and John Flanagan need to be run at to put them on the back foot, The fact that we were down to ten men helped Flanagan get up to score, so Tottenham need to ensure that he doesn’t get that far forward again. Aly Sissoko is another option at right back for Liverpool, with Jose Enrique out injured long term and veteran own goal scorer Kolo Toure available to cover in the middle of defence.

While the two strikers are grabbing all the glory with the large number of goals taking them to the top of the goal-scorers’ chart, there is little in reserve for Liverpool in that part of the side. Borini is on loan at Sunderland, Adam Morgan has been sold and Iago Aspas has not proven the inspired buy that Rodgers had hoped. This leaves a large burden of back-up goal-scoring to the midfield. Steven Gerrard gets his share, but mainly through penalties and free-kicks these days, as his legs are going, but Jordan Henderson has pushed further forward to get in the box more and is contributing goals to add to his game, which has improved since his move from Sunderland.

Raheem Sterling has been phased into the side and has responded with some good displays, especially against Spurs earlier this season, when he ran Naughton ragged. He still sometimes lacks the killer pass with his final ball, but he has had a few assists this season to add to his goal tally. Philippe Coutinho has the ability to take people on and slip passes through to the front two, so is a player who can be elusive and will need picking up and team-mate Joe Allen has a similar ability, but he has not been as much of a mainstay in the side compared to when he was at Swansea.

It would not be a surprise if Sherwood put Bentaleb in the midfield three, but his inexperience has been exposed against the top teams and a more pragmatic and play players with more top class quality, while giving the youngster a much needed rest.

The way Liverpool are playing and the fact that they have handed out big defeats to other top six sides (and Manchester United), the result will probably go their way, even if Tottenham manage to cut out the mistakes which have seen us concede in recent weeks.

PREDICTION Liverpool    2         Tottenham Hotspur    0
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Liverpool  4 (0)                                                                                     Tottenham Hotspur  0 (0)
Premier League
Sunday 30th March 2014                                                                                                                    Kick off 16:00
Kaboul (o.g.) 2
Suarez 25
Coutinho 55
Henderson 75



Kaboul (foul on Sturridge) 33
Sigurdsson (foul on Coutinho) 46


Crowd :   44,762 Weather :  Sunny, warm
Referee :  Phil Dowd (Stoke-on-Trent) Assistant Referees :  Mr. S. Ledger; Mr. M. Mullarkey
Fourth Official :  Howard Webb -
Spurs kicked off and played towards the Kop end in the first half.
Game time : 90 + 4 minutes.
Liverpool : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit
22  Simon MIGNOLET

  2  Glen JOHNSON
37  Martin SKRTEL
6  Daniel AGGER

  8  Steven GERRARD (c) (21 LUCAS 70)
14  Jordan HENDERSON
  Philippe COUTINHO (24 Joe ALLEN 64)

  7  Luis SUAREZ
15  Daniel STURRIDGE
31  Raheem STERLING (12 Victor MOSES 83)

Unused subs: 
  1  Brad JONES
  9  Iago ASPAS
19  Mamadou SAKHO

  25  Hugo LLORIS

  5  Jan VERTONGHEN (20  Michael DAWSON 23)
  4  Younes KABOUL (c)
  3  Danny ROSE

42  Nabil BENTALEB (19 Mousa DEMBELE 59)

  7  Aaron LENNON (17 Andros TOWNSEND 59)
23  Christian ERIKSEN

  9  Roberto SOLDADO

Unused subs: 
24  Brad FRIEDEL

62  Harry WINKS
37  Harry KANE

Manager :  Brendan Rodgers Manager :  Tim Sherwood
Sponsor :   Seeing Is Believing Shirt sponsor :  Hewlett Packard
Kit Supplier :  Warrior Kit Supplier :   Under Armour
Match report

Another big defeat to a team above us, as Spurs crashed 0-4 at Anfield, which Tim Sherwood said wouldn't happen on his watch.  Well it has and the team looked anything but up for this game from the time they left the dressing room.  Few came out of the game with much credit and f the rumours after the match were true about Sherwood being involved in a fight, with the players coming out an hour  after the end of the match, then we might have our third man in charge for this season.

Tottenham needed one of their players to get an early goal, but we weren’t quite planning on it being in his own net. Sterling, who terrorised Naughton at left back in the home game was replicating his performance against Rose and fed in Glen Johnson to put a low cross to the near post. As it missed the first Spurs defender, Vertonghen and then Younes Kaboul dragged the ball back behind his standing leg to put it into the goal just like Djimi Traore did when playing for Liverpool.

So, less than two minutes in and Spurs were one down.

They failed to make much of an inroad into the Liverpool defence and Suarez’s cross in the tenth minute was just too high to stop Sturridge having a free header at the far post. The defence were too loose with their markers and others were not picking up the runners, leaving Liverpool to ping passes having the comfort of a goal in the bank. There was little communication between the players and Vertonghen was doing his “What do you want me to do ?” body language, as Liverpool looked more determined to get to the ball every time.

Vertonghen didn’t look like he was interested in playing and went off in the 23rd minute, when Dawson came on for him. A long ball saw the centre-half’s first touch play the ball square but straight to Suarez, who eased Kaboul off the ball, with the captain treading on it, to shoot across Lloris from the left of the goal and Liverpool doubled their lead.

Tottenham’s passing was lacking any sort of precision and it took until the 16th minute before we had a chance of note. Naughton played the ball square across the box for Eriksen, who had a shot that was blocked by Skrtel and then Sigurdsson headed the rebound at goal, but with no conviction. Meanwhile, at the other end, Suarez got around Naughton too easily and won a corner when we should have seen him cornered in that part of the pitch. Almost every time Liverpool went forward, they looked dangerous. With no sitting midfielder, the defence were exposed and with Eriksen drifting from his nominally left-sided position, it exposed Rose to being attacked by Sterling and Johnson.

The only good thing that could be said for our performance was that we were only 0-2 down by half an hour, whereas Arsenal were 0-4 at the same stage in their game there.

Liverpool were getting the decisions from Dowd, with a handball against Gylfi at close range and with the ball hitting him on the shoulder and then Kaboul getting a booking as Sturridge collapsed spectacularly when the Tottenham captain slid in without touching him. When Skrtel pushed Soldado over with two hands in his back nothing was given. The Liverpool of old certainly are back.

Bentaleb had a straight shot at Mingolet with 38 minutes gone, then a minute later Soldado tried to curl a shot past the keeper, but he pushed it away. However, another mistake handed the ball over to Liverpool and a cross from Sterling on the right gave Suarez a free header at the far post, but somehow, Lloris managed to get a hand to the ball and knock it onto the bar, with the ball bouncing down and was then cleared away from the line by Bentaleb.

Half time came as a relief, with Rose pulling up and holding his leg just before the break, but I am sure that there would be no repeat of the Southampton turn around. They should have had plenty of energy, as they hadn’t put much into the first 45 minutes.

Gylfi Sigurdsson got a yellow card for pulling back Coutinho just after the start of the second half, but when the same happened to Lennon as Henderson tugged him, Dowd didn’t even give the Liverpool player a talking to. When Soldado chased down Skrtel and won the ball near the corner, there was absolutely nobody up supporting him and the ball ended up coming off him for a goal kick.

Sterling got away from the Spurs defence, when he received a return pass and Rose hadn’t bothered to go with him, allowing him to square the ball to set up Henderson, but he ballooned his shot over the top with only Dawson in front of him. Not that it mattered as Countinho soon made it 3-0. Working the ball from the back, he strode forward and struck a low shot past Lloris’ right hand as three Spurs players eventually closed him down.

Tottenham just didn’t look bothered. There was no closing of Liverpool players on the ball, little movement off it and the slow movement of the ball allowed plenty of players to prevent any sort of attack Spurs might have fashioned. Nobody wanted to put their foot in and Liverpool were more willing to put some weight behind tackles.

Dembele and Townsend came on for Bentaleb and Lennon.

A decent passing move around the 20 yard mark did open up a shooting chance for Chadli, who fired a couple of feet over the angle of bar and post. But it was at the other end that things were happening. Lloris had to rush out to clear from an on-rushing Suarez, then he saved a point blank back-heel from Sturridge, but when Suarez bought a free-kick and Dowd fell for it even more than the Uruguayan did, Henderson bent it in to the near post. Suarez jumped over it, nobody read it and the ball ended up in the net.

Dawson shot over when the ball dropped to him from a corner and then headed a foot over from another, but there wasn’t much chance of us scoring. All Soldado got was a rake down his Achilles from Skrtel, as he got little supply from our midfield. Once more Spurs finish a game with ten men, but without it being of our own making this time.

In added time, Eriksen had a deflected shot beaten out by the Liverpool keeper at the foot of his left hand post. But that was the closest Spurs came all afternoon. It was a pathetic performance against a side who only beat Sunderland 2-1 in midweek. Spurs had a week off from playing, but there was little urgency about our play, which was too ponderous around the opposition’s box, allowing the red shirts to get back behind the ball or in front of shots. The fact that we gave the ball away straight from the kick off was indicative of what sort of afternoon it was going to be.

With the appearance from some of the players that they would have liked to have been elsewhere (Vertonghen and Lennon) and frankly, they might get their wish. Players moan about not getting Champions League football, but what about their contribution to that particular achievement ? The team was set up all wrong from the start. The inclusion of Winks on the bench (good young player that he is) casts doubts over Sherwood’s ability to utilise players who have performed at a much higher level. And unless Levy foresees us being a team of youngsters with no success in the forthcoming five years, then I would think van Gaal will be installed officially on about the 12th of May.

Sam Partridge


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What you thought
East Stan Sherwood goes on about too many capitulations under AVB, but I don’t see too much resilience from his own side. Surely, if Levy was unhappy with the Portuguese Head Coach’s record against the top four, then Sherwood will soon be down the road.

He shows a lack of respect for the fans for all his comments about how he understands what they want. Firstly the lack of passion in the way the team play. Last week, it took too long to get going against Southampton and why is it that this late in the season we have not scored in the first 15 minutes of a game ? That puts us at a disadvantage most of the time.

Then secondly, his selections appear to have a bias to players he has brought through rather than the best players for the match to be played. Eriksen coming off against Arsenal, with Bentaleb staying on. Kane instead of Soldado v Benfica ? Really ? Winks on the bench, while Coulthirst is out on loan at Torquay. Fredericks has one game in the first team and is then shipped off to Millwall on loan. What sort of development for our young players is that ? But then he has showed that even recognised internationals have had a glimpse of first team action and then been dropped the following game.

So, it looks like another manager will be coming in and another season of transition is ahead.
Andy Cross I don't know about fighting in the dressing room, we need some fight on the field.  Vertonghen looked like he was going out for a practice match the way he was lounging about in the tunnel before the match and when he does get out there, he seems to prefer berating his team-mates rather than doing anything to stop the opposition.

He was great last year, but looks like he can't be bothered this time, so wants to leave.  Make him stay and if he won't give his all, then stick him with the kids.  It worked for Adebayor.

- -.



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




League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Liverpool 32 22 5 5 88 39 71 +49
2 Chelsea 32 21 6 5 62 24 69 +38
3 Manchester City 30 21 4 5 80 28 67 +52
4 Arsenal 32 19 7 6 56 37 64 +19
5 Everton 31 17 9 5 49 31 60 +18
6 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 32 17 5 10 40 44 56 -4
7 Manchester United 32 16 6 10 52 38 54 +14
8 Southampton 32 13 9 10 49 40 48 +9
9 Newcastle United 32 14 4 14 38 47 46 -9
10 Stoke City 32 10 10 12 37 45 40 -8
11 West Ham United 32 10 7 15 36 42 37 -6
12 Aston Villa 31 9 9 15 34 46 34 -12
13 Swansea City 32 8 6 17 45 48 33 -3
14 Hull City 32 9 6 17 33 40 33 -7
15 Norwich City 32 8 8 16 26 51 32 -25
16 Crystal Palace 31 8 4 18 20 39 31 -19
17 West Bromwich Albion 31 5 14 12 36 48 29 -12
18 Cardiff City 32 6 8 18 29 61 26 -32
19 Sunderland 30 6 7 17 28 48 25 -20
20 Fulham 32 7 3 22 31 73 24 -42

Position before match :  6th
Position after match :  6th
Position after the weekend :  6th

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