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Match Reports
Spurs v Liverpool, 10.09.05


Referee: - Howard Webb

Attendance: - 36,148

Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Stalteri, King (Capt.), Gardner, Lee; Lennon (sub Brown, 81), Jenas, Carrick, Davids; Rasiak (sub Keane, 81), Defoe

Subs not used: - Cerny; Naybet; Reid

Booked: - Davids

Liverpool (4-4-2):- Reina; Finnan, Hyypia, Carragher, Warnock (sub Alonso, 68); Garcia, Gerrard (Capt.), Hamann (sub Sissoko, 46), Riise; Cisse, Crouch (sub Traore, 76)

Subs not used: - Carson; Josemi

Booked: - Hyypia

Spurs and Liverpool drew for the third consecutive Premiership game in an entertaining 0-0, where there was plenty of genuine high quality football played. Martin Jol gave each of the transfer deadline signings their debut, and also gave Aaron Lennon his first Premiership start for the club. Ledley King made a welcome return to the fray, and whilst there was and will continue to be plenty of frustration about referee Howard Webb (more of whom later) and his officials, there should not be too much complaint about the final result.

Spurs had clearly the better of the first half, when they made the Liverpool defence look shaky at times – especially the goalkeeper, Jose Reina, but the visitors came out of the blocks sharply after the break and had a number of very good chances, before Spurs had made much headway towards the Paxton Road stand. Both sides hit the woodwork, both had goals disallowed, but it did seem that the balance of the referee’s decisions swung towards the Reds.

Lee Young-Pyo easily fulfilled the expectations of those who had researched his career to date. He has blistering pace, and made several great runs into the Liverpool area, forcing corners and excellent attacking positions. He looked reliable at the other end too, tackling and intercepting cutely. Although Edgar Davids played on the left of midfield, he generally adopted a narrow path, and Lee had the job of taking the Liverpool right flank on. In the second half, Benitez seemed to have three players on Lee whenever he got into their half.

Davids shuffle meant that Jermaine Jenas joined Carrick in the central midfield. It will take a few games for them to bed in, I think, but Jenas made a satisfactory start, being a useful attacking foil. Carrick had a bit of an off day, with several short passes astray, and also a failure to commit to 50/50 balls too often. Lennon had a good first half, and whilst the strategy might have been to give Warnock a torrid time at left back, Benitez’s preference of this young man at left back ahead of Riise (playing midfield today) is justified. It was a surprise to see Alonso on the bench, but no doubt some relief to Spurs.

It was a while before we noticed Grzegorz Rasiak in the game, but he did have a couple of chances in the first half (he was the one who hit the woodwork), and he did get the ball in the net in the second (disallowed). Again, he needs time to settle, and Jermain Defoe was looking supportive when giving feedback on better alternatives from some of the decisions made by the Polish striker.

With regard to the referee, he did seem keen to let things go for most of the game, but appeared lenient towards a number of cynical fouls by the visitors. For example, Hamann persisted in standing too close to a free kick near the touchline, and when he didn’t move got a clout on the head from Carrick’s well-directed kick! Soon after Hamann made a bad challenge, but it was just a case of “words”. Davids got his customary booking in the second half for what looked like an innocuous challenge, but I saw the ref get ahead of the play too early and miss a foul on a Spurs player, and then simply ignore Defoe getting tugged down when he almost broke through towards the end of the game. The crowd failed to understand Webb’s decision to disallow Rasiak’s powerful header into the net from a Carrick corner, and it looked like he was giving an offside, but it seems the linesman (Mr Yerby – who used to referee Reserve games) spotted the kick swerve out of play before what would have been a dream goal for Rasiak.

To the game then, and with the crowd enthusiastic from the start, The Lane will be a great place to visit this season. The first chance fell to Liverpool, as Carrick made a poor pass from the left side of the area, into the middle, where Riise found Cisse, who thankfully fired wide. Then Defoe had a chance from a wide angle, which also went wide by a couple of yards. After 10 minutes, Lee made his first penetrating run, winning a throw, which led to a pass to Davids, outside the box, threading the ball to Defoe, whose shot across Reina was only a couple of feet wide. Soon after, Defoe chipped the ball across the area from the left, and Reina failed to assert himself, giving the advancing Jenas a chance that he could not quite reach.

Mid-way through the half, Warnock sent over a long ball, over Robinson, perhaps taking Garcia by surprise, as he shot into the side netting. There was an exciting goal-mouth scramble, after another corner won by a great run from Lee, leaving a trail of defenders on the ground. We just could not get the ball into the net, and it was cleared. Lennon and Stalteri exchanged passes on the right, before Lennon got the ball into the area, before Defoe was called offside as he poked the ball home

Gerrard was roundly booed as a free kick was awarded in the Spurs half, and Crouch had a headed chance over the bar. Five minutes before the break, Jenas touched a free kick to Davids who drove a terrific low shot that Reina parried. The ball bounced high, and Rasiak made a header that landed on top of the bar. After the break, Jenas was nearly through the defence, and seemed to be roughly handled, but the referee saw no offence. Then came a series of chances for Liverpool. Cisse’s cross from the right found Garcia, whose shot was blocked, then Paul Robinson made a great two handed save from Cisse who really got hold of his shot after Crouch headed down. Robbo made the save with both hands stretched high. Riise was the next to have a pop from distance and whilst the ball might have gone just wide, Paul Robinson saved at his left post to make sure.

At last, Spurs had an effort on target in this half, after a well-worked move, again involving Lennon, then Stalteri. Defoe collected with his back to goal, turned and managed to hit a shot, but not at full strength. In the 56th minute, the ball reached Riise from a corner, and his shot beat Robinson, but bounced down off the underside of the bar, and back harmlessly into play. Davids passed inside to Carrick, who hit a powerful shot, only parried by Reina, collected and converted by Defoe, but adjudged offside at the time of Carrick’s shot. Defoe was then tipped up by Hyypia who got booked for his troubles, and then came Rasiak’s disallowed header. Liverpool also had the ball in the net from a corner, but that one was disallowed for Crouch’s heavy handed bodywork. (Yes, I know that sounds ridiculous, but it’s true!)N.B - it was later confirmed that whilst Crouch did foul Gardner, this "goal" was also disallowed because the corner kick had gone out of play first!

Benitez took off Crouch for Traore, and it seemed that Liverpool were now going to settle for a point, as it was Spurs that huffed and puffed towards the end, but even with Michael Brown and Robbie Keane inserted for Lennon and Rasiak, the Liverpool defensive house would not fall down.

Liverpool are two games behind most of the Premiership and 5 points from their three games, having scored just one goal. Spurs have failed to score now in three Premiership games, but look, we have made a steady start, we are fifth in the table, and what’s more the Gooners lost! It’s been a steady start, but I now hope we can collect three points from our next two games at Villa Park, and at home to Fulham, before facing a daunting challenge at Charlton, who remain on a 100% record so far, along with Chelsea.

· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
· Read the preview for this game.

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