SUNDAY 4TH FEBRUARY, 2018
LIVERPOOL 2(1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2(0)
Salah, 3, 90(+1)
Kane, 90(+5) (pen)
Referee:- Jonathan Moss
Assistants:- Eddie Smart, Andy Halliday
Fourth official:- Martin Atkinson
Liverpool (4-3-3):- Karius; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Can, Henderson (Capt.) (sub Wijnaldum, 65), Milner (sub Matip, 78); Salah, Firmino, Mane (sub Oxlade-Chamberlain, 65)
(Armband firstly to Milner, then to Can)
Subs not used:- Mignolet; Moreno; Ings, Solanke
Booked:- Alexander-Arnold (foul on Davies), Milner (foul on Trippier), Can
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Trippier, Sanchez (sub Lamela, 71), Vertonghen, Davies; Dier, Dembele (sub Wanyama, 79); Eriksen, Dele, Son (sub Llorente, 90+2); Kane
Subs not used:- Vorm; Aurier; Sissoko, Winks
Booked:- Dele (simulation)
High drama at Anfield!
There was high drama at Anfield in the last 10 minutes, and it was played out before not only the 53,000 crowd, but all those around the world who were able to view the Premier League game of the weekend. The game lived up to its billing, but not to the liking of Jurgen Klopp and the army of Liverpool fans. Mohamed Salah had given “The Reds” a third minute lead, courtesy of an under hit back pass by Eric Dier. We then had to wait until the 80th minute for another goal and it came in spectacular fashion from substitute Victor Wanyama, who virtually burst the net with his thunderbolt of a shot. Salah scored what looked like the winner as we entered added time with a superb goal after beating three Spurs defenders in the box. However this goal was punctuated by controversial penalty decisions before and after. The first had been hit by Harry Kane straight at goalkeeper Karius. The second came with virtually the last kick of the game and was hit firmly past the goalkeeper for Kane’s 100th Premier league goal, and a precious point in the quest for Champions League football.
Mauricio Pochettino started with the same team that had so ably beaten Manchester United during the week. Jurgen Klopp’s side was set up in attacking 4-3-3 fashion with James Milner playing as one of the three in front of the back four. Hugo Lloris must have won the toss, because the home side was asked to play towards the Kop in the first half. I don’t think that strategy worked for spurs, as most of the traffic went in the Kop’s direction early on. Salah was the star of the show up front, and took every advantage when Dier scuffed his intended back pass into the path of the Egyptian forward who made no mistake with his approach and left foot shot.
Spurs tried to respond quickly with an attack down the left hand side. Dele passed to Son who came inside leading to a shot by Eriksen which was blocked. Liverpool made a break down the left after 10 minutes with Mane racing onto Henderson’s ball and getting the better of Sanchez. Sane’s cross intended for Firmino was put out for a corner by Vertonghen. It was not the first or last time that Sanchez showed uncertainty, and he was eventually withdrawn when Lamela came on in the second half.
Liverpool’s defence were unsure what to do with Eriksen’s threaded ball into the area, and Alexander-Arnold conceded a corner. After 16 minutes, Son had a shot from the right of the box, following a Trippier pass. The shot was blocked and Spurs had another corner. Milner had a chance at the other end, deflected by Sanchez across Lloris’s right post for a Liverpool corner. That ball to Milner had come from right back Alexander-Arnold, and he hit another dangerous cross, this time from the final third, with Firmino glancing his header wide. Hugo Lloris was equal to Salah’s cross from the right after the ball had broken for Liverpool in midfield with Dembele being hounded by three red shirts.
Spurs had a corner on the right which Dier tried to head, but which was cleared. Dier then had a second nibble as the ball was returned and he went to the ground, but his appeals fell on stony ground with referee Jon Moss. The referee gave a free kick in the middle for Firmino’s foul on Dembele and then either he chose to have words with James Milner, or vice versa. Milner had been committing fouls without punishment and maybe this was a final warning. Milner took a Liverpool free kick out on the left, but Van Dijk’s header was comfortable for Lloris going to ground near his left post. A minute later (34 mins) there was a nice Spurs move with Son passing to Eriksen, who had a shot saved, but he had been called offside in any case.
Spurs had a free kick 35 yards out and Eriksen fed Dembele, who hit a strong right footed shot which was held by Karius. Alexander-Arnold got a yellow card following his foul on Ben Davies. Eriksen took the free kick, and Dier tried to head it, but the ball ran to the keeper. Spurs were gaining more and more control, and what was most frustrating was that we were only behind because of Dier’s early error – a piece of charity.
Spurs dominated possession overall in this game, and this was very much evident in the second half. Dele was onto a Davies ball and fed it to Eriksen, whose shot won a corner. Dele and Son advanced down the left side with son providing the final pass before Dele’s shot ran straight to the goalkeeper. Milner finally saw yellow for his foul on Trippier. Eriksen took the free kick but Spurs were caught offside. After a foul on Dele and a free kick from the left Eric Dier’s attempt was held.
Jurgen Klopp made a double substitution with mane replaced by Oxlade-Chamberlain (duly welcomed by the travelling support!) and Henderson replaced by Wijnaldum. Spurs were pressing hard and a shot by dele Alli took a strong deflection and became an easy hold for Karius. Dele soon offered ammunition for his decriers when he got booked for simulation. It’s a shame, because I still think Dele is the player most likely to do something special on so many occasions.
Sanchez was replaced by Lamela and Eric Dier fell back into defence. Spurs adopted Liverpool’s 4-3-3 with Lamela, Kane and Son across the front with Dele, Eriksen and Dembele behind them. Klopp’s response was to become more defensive with Matip replacing Milner.
Victor Wanyama took over from Dembele and within a minute he had hit the net in most spectacular style. The goal followed a cross by Eriksen which was punched out by Karius, straight to the feet of Wanyama 25 yards out. Victor had a spectacularly powerful, straight and true rising shot which would have beaten anybody! Three minutes later we had a penalty, although it took the officials a long time to resolve. Kane had been brought down by Karius and Mr. Moss pointed to the spot only to be called by his assistant Mr. Smart. I understand the debate was about whether Kane had been offside, and that apparently he had been played on by Lovren. It didn‘t matter because Kane hit a weak shot straight at the keeper. It must have been nerves at the thought of that landmark goal, but it was one of the worst penalties I can remember from Kane.
As we entered four minutes of added time Salah thought he had scored a superb winner as he jinked into the Spurs area and dribbled past, through or around Dele, Davies and even Jan Vertonghen to score with his left foot. The final drama came in the last minute of added time. Llorente had replaced Son and had headed a ball towards Erik Lamela. The plain fact is that Van Dijk had kneed Erik in the back (or was it a kick to his leg?), and this time Harry made no mistake beating Karius to his left for that 100th Premier League goal and a point gratefully taken. Klopp had complaints about both penalties, but I understand they have both been adjudged correct in law. Perhaps Salah’s goal was deserving of being a winner, but I think Spurs deserved their point.
On we go to that midweek FA Cup repay against Newport and next Saturday lunchtime’s crunch meeting with Arsenal. I can’t wait!
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