Subs not used:- Cavalieri; Hyypia, Aurelio; Lucas, El Zhar
Booked:- Gerrard, Carragher
Harry’s Seven Point Wonders!
Who would have dreamt that Spurs could gain seven points from the three games since the appointment of Harry Redknapp? Who would have dreamt that we could beat the league leaders, thus ending their unbeaten record for the season? Who would have dreamt that we would take 4 points from the two games away to Ar5ena1 and at home to Liverpool? Who would have dreamt that instead of being victims to late goals, we would be the beneficiaries, both at The Emirates and at home last night? Who would have dreamt that one week after being rooted at the bottom of the Premier league with a pathetic two points, we would have clawed our way off the bottom of the pile, in touch with our competitors and ready to challenge for the next step – the climb up the table?
I did not dare to dream these things, and yet I have seen them all. Two wondrous moments this week – the Lennon equaliser at Ar5ena1, and yesterday’s last gasp winner – make it all so worthwhile being at the game, and help to counter all the pain we have endured this season. Spurs have beaten Liverpool for the first time since January 2004, when a Robbie Keane penalty and a rare Helga Postiga goal gave us a 2-1 win.
Robbie Keane was of course on the other side yesterday, and whilst he had a mixed reception, with more than a smattering of boos every time he touched the ball, on the whole, I would say that Robbie was given a positive reception, especially when he was substituted after 65 minutes.
Spurs had a blow to deal with just before the game as Jermaine Jenas was injured in the warm-up. Zokora was installed in his place, and I am afraid we missed Jenas’s influence badly, with Zokora having one of his headless chicken days, and neither he nor Huddlestone managing to get a foot on the ball and withholding the powerful Liverpool midfield. Hutton was left out in favour of Corluka. Ledley was a towering presence beside Woodgate, and O’Hara was preferred to Aaron Lennon, which meant there was little pace in the Spurs midfield. Modric started the game playing off Darren Bent, but Spurs did not get the ball to their front men enough.
Liverpool’s formation was similar to that of Spurs, with Kuyt playing on the right side, and Gerrard playing behind Keane. Mascherano and Alonso were the more defensive midfielders, and Riera made himself known down the left channels.
It was the best of starts and the worst of starts (for Liverpool and Spurs respectively), as Keane rolled the ball into the path of Kuyt, whose shot just evaded Gomes up-stretched arms, and hit the net at the far corner from an angle on the right. Spurs struggled to even get out of their own half in the early stages, without suffering too much threat, apart from an occasion when Darren Bent was defending and put the ball into his own side netting for a corner.
After 21 minutes, Spurs at last found some composed football, with Corluka, Zokora, Modric, O’Hara and Bentley all involved a build up which ended with a Corluka cross that went just beyond Darren Bent. Gerrard had an effort from the right side of the box that went just wide, before Huddlestone and Modric combined, before Huddlestone was fouled. Bentley took the kick but it was way over the bar. Robbie Keane had a chance after a ball from the left, but his shot was well blocked by Ledley King. After 40 minutes, Ledley was still in attack after a Spurs corner, and headed down a long ball to the feet of Modric, who struck a good shot that Reina could not hold, but this time there was no Lennon to follow up and finish!
Harry made two half-time changes. Hutton replaced Ekotto, but played in his right back position, whilst Corluka moved to the left back slot. Roman Pavlyuchenko was brought on for O’Hara, and Luke Modric withdrew to the left side of midfield. Corluka is a competent and skilful player, but I thought he allowed the likes of Kuyt far too much space. Kuyt would often receive the ball and have time and space to manoeuvre inside. There was an immediate effect for Spurs though, as Pavlyuchenko had a good effort, chesting down a ball from the left before despatching a decent shot just outside Reina’s left post.
Kuyt got round two players after 49 minutes, and twice his efforts were blocked, before Gerrard hit a shot that was both deflected and touched by Gomes onto the post. Having been the hero, Gomes then made a rickett that was nearly so expensive, as he received a back pass from Corluka then passed it short to Ledley King. Keane intercepted and passed to Gerrard who hit a cross shot that landed on the Spurs bar, then went clear. Then a cross by Arbeloa was met by Keane, but then by Kuyt, who fired over. Gerrard was adjudged to have been fouled by Huddlestone, and then took a free kick which Alonso met with a header at the back post, heading it into the side netting. Gerrard tried to meet a cross from the right after shots by Alonso and Riera were blocked by the resilient Spurs defence, led by King. However, once again, the pressure had been relentless, and Spurs were making little headway.
However, Spurs won a corner after Bent’s cross/shot was headed out by Alonso. Bentley swung it in, and Ledley rose with Carragher who got the touch for an own goal, and some respite for Spurs. Most home fans at this point would have gratefully accepted a point, but from here on in, Harry was going for it. Woodgate was up for a Huddlestone free kick and headed just wide. Ledley got a rare yellow card (only his sixth in 201 Premier League appearances) for what looked like an innocent bump into Reina, but referee Phil Dowd saw it differently. When Aaron Lennon replaced Modric, Mr. Dowd might have awarded free kicks but did not show cards for the cynical fouls that Lennon attracted. Spurs players tend to get booked for such infringements, but then they are not a top four side.
Pavlyuchenko had a golden chance from 15 yards, when he placed his right footed shot just outside goal. This came at the end of a move started by Ledley King, who had come into the midfield to win a ball and show Zokora and Huddlestone what they should have been doing. Lennon had hit a good ball to Hutton who teed up Bentley for the cross. Lennon was also tracking back to support Corluka, and hit his pass from the Spurs half.
Spurs ended the game on a high note with some degree of pressure. They were rewarded when Bentley got inside two defenders on the left side and hit a shot across the keeper which Reina could only push out in the direction of Darren Bent beyond the far post. Bent put the ball into the 6 yard box low, and it was Pavlyuchenko who turned it into the Liverpool net for such a joyful winner. The crowd was in raptures, and whilst Mr. Dowd added a minute and a half to the 4 minutes stipulated added time, Liverpool could not get back on terms, and the Spurs celebrations could begin!
Who would have dreamt it? Oh by the way, the last time we won and Ar5ena1 lost on the same day was 9th December last year, when we beat Man City and they lost at Middlesbrough. Bring on Man City next week! Bring on Zagreb! Bring on anybody! Come on you Spurs!