SUNDAY 22nd OCTOBER, 2017
(at Wembley Stadium)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4(3) LIVERPOOL 1(1)
Kane, 4, 56
Attendance:- 80,827 (Premier League record)
Referee:- Andre Marriner
Assistants:- Simon Beck & Scott Ledger
Fourth official:- Mike Jones
Spurs (3-3-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Alderweireld, Sanchez, Vertonghen; Trippier, Winks, Aurier; Eriksen (sub Dier, 81), Son (sub Sissoko, 69), Dele; Kane (sub Llorente, 88)
Subs not used:- Vorm; Rose, Davies; Nkoudou
Liverpool (4-3-3):- Mignolet; Gomez, Matip, Lovren (sub Oxlade-Chamberlain, 31), Moreno; Milner, Henderson (Capt.), Can (sub Grujic, 83); Salah, Firmino (sub Sturridge, 77), Coutinho
Subs not used:- Karius; Alexander-Arnold, Klavan; Solanke
Booked:- Can (foul on Dele)
Liverpool over-run by “Storm Tottenham”!
Those outside the UK may not be aware, but this week-end we have been beset by “Storm Brian”. Today, at Wembley stadium, former “hoodoo” ground of Tottenham Hotspur, witnessed visitors Liverpool being over-run by “Storm Tottenham”. Manager Mauricio Pochettino promised a surprise or two for Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, and he and his team certainly provided that in the way they started the game going two up by 12 minutes, but also in the formation and incessant attacking play in that first period. One of Liverpool’s star men Mohamed Salah (Coutinho was the other) got a goal back in the 24th minute, but Dele Alli restored the two goal difference almost on the stroke of half time, and in effect that was game over. Harry Kane completed the mini rout in the second half with his second goal of the game, making it 8 Premier League goals for the season, putting him on top of the pile after 9 games. That’s 86 Premier League goals now for Harry and 112 for Spurs in all competitions, making him 13th equal with the man featured in today’s programme – Jimmy Dimmock.
In my match preview, I suggested that Pochettino might line up in a 3-3-3-1 formation, and that’s what I felt we did today. It is not as simple as that though, because the team was fluid in the fashion of the best European teams. When we defended, Trippier and Aurier (the latter at left wing-back) fell back, and Dele and Eriksen fell back to assist Harry Winks. When going forward, Dele, Christian, Son and Harry had the prime responsibility. It truly was a pleasure to watch, coupled with fine, strong defending by the back three and our “sweeper keeper” Hugo Lloris.
Aurier was required to defend well against Salah after just two minutes, and that he did, winning a goal kick, rather than conceding a corner. It wasn’t long before Spurs took that early lead. It followed a move on the right where Trippier and Eriksen combined and then Harry got the better of Mignolet, before scoring with a left footed finish. The second goal followed direct football with a refreshing clearance by Lloris taken on by Kane down the right side. Kane crossed and Son found the net to the right of Mignolet. Wembley was roaring! Well, with the exception of the Liverpool corner.
More excitement followed with Trippier winning a battle inside Liverpool’s half on the right. Eriksen flicked the ball to Son, who was towards the right of goal this time. Son hit a powerful shot which beat Mignolet, but rebounded off the crossbar. Son had a chance after another Spurs break, with Kane the provider on his left. Unfortunately Son took a little too long before shooting, and his effort was blocked and cleared.
Liverpool might be naïve and fragile (to say the least) at the back, but they have plenty of flair in attack, and danger man Salah got a goal back, collecting a diagonal ball from Jordan Henderson and beating Lloris to his right, with the ball rebounding into the net off the inside of the far post. To a degree, Liverpool’s tails were up, but Spurs were resilient at the back. Salah had another chance, this one a header, held by Lloris after a Coutinho ball. Clever interplay between Kane and Dele (particularly Dele) gave Son another pop at goal, but Mignolet managed to save and hold the ball after two touches. Dele was all over the place, and arguably in the best form he has shown so far this season, and after he won a midfield ball, he fed Kane on the left side of goal, but the shot was blocked.
Lovren was replaced early by Oxlade-Chamberlain (booed of course by the Spurs fans). Klopp shifted his back line with Gomez moving inside and Can taking on the right back slot. James Milner started and continued in a midfield slot, whereas he has often played at left back over the last year or so.
Serge Aurier over-committed to a challenge against Salah, who came away with the ball hitting a cross which was held by Lloris. Trippier needed treatment and seemed to have been the victim of a harsh challenge unseen by the referee. Mr. Marriner generally had a good game today, I felt, not that these teams make his job difficult, but it was his clear intention to let play flow.
After 36 minutes a Vertonghen clearance was collected and taken forward by Dele, feeding Harry Kane who showed great skill and strength to win the battle for the ball. This was not his only win of the day by any means! Harry’s shot passed outside the post. At the other end Vertonghen blocked a Henderson shot well. Lloris was then required to perform sweeper duties, coming out of his area to head clear from the threat of Salah, before Dele took the ball on and passed to Son. Son was unable to continue the move. In added time Dele was fouled by Can (who got the only booking of the game). Eriksen took the kick, and Matip could only head the ball to the feet of Dele Alli, who beat Mignolet with a right footed shot low into the net.
There had been a rumour that the great Maradona (who did once play in a Spurs shirt of course) would be interviewed at half-time, and so it proved, with Ossie Ardiles acting as interpreter. I couldn’t tell you what was said though.
Early in the second half, Hugo had to punch clear another Salah cross. Spurs won a corner on the left, taken by Trippier and met by the head of Kane, but glanced wide across the goalmouth. Harry did complete the scoring in the 56th minute. It is the fifth time already this season that Harry has scored two or more goals in a game for club and country. This one followed a free kick on the right after Harry had been fouled. Trippier took the kick and Jan Vertonghen’s shot was blocked, but picked up by Harry, who took a touch before hitting a right foot shot across Mignolet and into the net.
Eriksen had an effort after another corner from the left taken by Trippier, and I think Toby Alderweireld had actually headed back towards Eriksen, who fired well over. Aurier won the ball crossing to his right for Eriksen, who sent Kane away. Harry raced towards the area and wanted his hat-trick, but was prevented from shooting this time.
A Coutinho shot was well saved by Lloris and pushed onto his right post, before he had more work to do following clever play between Milner and Salah, but the ever-reliable Hugo saved from Milner. Hugo then had another good save to make from Coutinho. An error by Aurier gave Liverpool a chance, but Lloris and his defence kept Salah and Oxlade-Chamberlain at bay. Spurs saw out the rest of the game without further threat. Harry Kane was struggling near the end, hopefully with a touch of cramp rather than anything more serious, but he was able to walk off, as he was replaced by Llorente. I would expect Harry to be given a rest anyway for Wednesday night’s League Cup game against West Ham.
Unfortunately Arsenal also had a win today (5-2) against a Liverpool team – Everton. Spurs do remain in third place though, level on points with Manchester United, where we play next Saturday lunch-time. That’s a game to relish, and I certainly relish being the top team in London (by four points) at this time!
P.S. - This was a record Premier League crowd. Once again, I am surprised at the figure suggesting over 9,000 empty seats. I certainly could not see those gaps.
· John Ellis writes - Liverpool were left bedraggled, bewildered and bludgeoned!
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