My heartfelt thanks go to Declan Mulcahy for this detailed match report of the events on Saturday
Saturday 15 September 2018, 12:30pm
Tottenham Hotspur (0) 1 Liverpool (1) 2
Tottenham Hotspur: (4-3-1-2)
13 M Vorm; 2 K Trippier, 4 T Alderweireld, 5 J Vertonghen, 3 D Rose;
15 E Dier (12 V Wanyama 83), 19 M Dembele (11 E Lamela 60), 8 H Winks
(7 Son H-M 73); 23 C Eriksen; 27 Lucas Moura, 10 H Kane (c)
Subs not used: 22 P Gazzaniga, 6 D Sanchez, 24 S Aurier, 33 B Davies
Liverpool: (4-3-3) Jurgen Klopp
13 Alisson; 66 T Alexander-Arnold (32 J Matip 90), 4 V van Dijk, 12 J Gomez, 26 A Robertson; 7 J Milner (c), 5 G Wijnaldum, 8 N Keita (15 D Stirridge 83); 11 M Salah, 9 R Firmino (14 J Henderson 74); 10 S Mane
Subs not used: 22 S Mignolet, 18 A Moreno, 3 Fabinho, 23 X Shaqiri Captainís Armband: Milner (Henderson 74)
Wembley Stadium, Attendance: 80,188
Referee: Michael Oliver
Assistant Referees: Stuart Burt, Simon Bennett
Fourth Official; Kevin Friend
League Positions TH 5/6 L 1/2
TH White shirts and stockings, navy shorts L Red shirts, shorts and stockings
A Very Disappointing Day
The fifth round of Premier League games of the season pitted Spurs at home to Liverpool. The latter had made an excellent start to the season winning all four matches so far. Spurs had won their first three including a fine victory at Old Trafford but had been brought back down to earth by losing away to Watford two weeks ago.
The corresponding fixture last year saw Spurs win 4-1. It will be remembered as the Dejan Lovren horror show. The Liverpool central defender was culpable for Tottenhamís first two goals and was substituted within 31 minutes. Of Liverpoolís back four and goalkeeper that day there was only one survivor Joe Gomez had played at right back that day and was now operating in central defence. The back five included two important signings the Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson and the Dutch central defender Virgil van Dijk.
This was the fourth of the five league games to date where Liverpool had used the same starting XI and had only started 12 players to date in their five games.
Spurs captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was still absent with a thigh injury. In addition Dele Alli had returned injured from England duty and was replaced by Harry Winks. These were two key absentees whom Spurs could ill afford to miss for a major match like this. Pochettino reverted to a back four today having fielded three central defenders against Watford with Sanchez standing down.
Spurs started sluggishly. Within 40 seconds Liverpool mounted an attack down the right. Firmino hit a goal bound shot. Mane decided to finish it off and it was ruled out because he was offside. However if Mane hadnít touched the ball Spurs could have been behind in the first minute. Shortly afterwards another dangerous ball arrived in the box which Alderweireld intercepted but had to concede a corner.
Spurs first attack after about five minutes saw Eriksen go down in the Liverpool box but there was very little contact.
Around the 21 minute mark, Dier played a poor pass, an occupational hazard for him. Salah intercepted the ball and ran into the box. He hit a rising shot but Vorm saved it. A couple of minutes later Salah set up Firmino but he was closed down by Alderweireld.
Spurs came more and more into the game. An Eriksen free kick was saved by Alisson. Eriksen was finding space and Spurs had a fair amount of possession but they were not creating chances. In fact the only real effort was a long range Vertonghen shot from just inside the Liverpool half when he noticed Alisson off his line and unleashed a shot which went wide.
Disaster struck after 38 minutes. Spurs conceded a corner after an unforced error. They failed to clear the corner. Wijnaldum directed a header goalwards. Vorm eventually punched the ball out. However goal line technology confirmed that the ball had crossed the line before his clearance.
Wijnaldum has made over 100 Premier League appearances and scored 18 goals previously but the irony was that this was his first goal that was scored away from home. Also all of the five goals that Spurs have conceded this season have been headers.
Spurs had more possession in the first half but failed to create chances. Liverpoolís goal was the result of unforced errors by Spurs.
The second half started with a flurry of action. Lucas dispossessed with Gomez but his effort came to nothing. Robertson responded by hitting the bar. Mane swiveled in the box and Vorm did well to palm the ball away. Lucas beat Gomez again and unleashed a shot that went narrowly to the wrong side of the left post.
After 53 minutes Robertson sent a long pass to Mane on the left wing which totally deceived Trippier. It allowed Mane to advance inwards before crossing the ball. Vertonghen deflected the ball off the post but Firmino scored with a shot from the rebound. Both goals resulted from poor defending by Spurs.
Liverpool were dominating the second half. Lamela replaced Dembele around the hour mark. There was a curious incident between Vertonghen and Firmino. They were tussling when Vertonghen became unbalanced. As he fell his fingers caught Firminoís face and scratched him. It was accidental as he was falling at the time. Firmino had to be replaced by Henderson the Liverpool captain who as is customary took the captainís armband from Milner when he arrived.
With ten minutes remaining Vorm made a diving save from an angled Salah shot. Then Wanyama who had just come on showed his worth with a timely challenge on Salah as he was just about to pull the trigger in the box. Shortly afterwards Alderweireld prevented another Salah effort. Liverpool could easily have added another couple of goals during this time.
Lamela then had an opportunity but shot narrowly wide.
In time added on Eriksen took a corner from the left which found Lamela on the other side of the goal. He chested the ball down and scored with a shot. A very nice effort overall. This was Eriksenís 50th Premier League assist. He is the second Spurs player to achieve this milestone after Darren Anderton (67).
Spurs had one final effort. Son went down the box but the referee awarded a goal kick.
The score did not reflect Liverpoolís dominance. This was originally supposed to be the opening game at the new stadium. It is just as well the opening was postponed as this would have been a disastrous opening result.
The last two games will raise questions over whether it was a good decision not to add to the squad during the transfer window. It is still early in the season but based on what has happened to date it could be Spurs and Manchester United scrapping it out for fourth place. The manager and the team urgently need to regroup and put some points on the board during the next four league matches before Manchester City visit Wembley. There is also a Champions League campaign to mount. What happens in the next month will likely define the season.
Finally a curiosity. This was the third Premier League match this season where no disciplinary cards were awarded. Spurs played in two of the games both at home and two have involved referee Michael Oliver. (His second match didnít involve Spurs).
∑ Spurs on the cusp of failure this season
∑ See the exclusive "Spursometer" and have your say regarding the performances of the team, individual players, manager and officials.
∑ Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
∑ Read the preview for this game.
∑ All the Spurs Stats you could hope for here! THFC6061 Sports Stats
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