BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 28TH NOVEMBER, 2010
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (0) LIVERPOOL 1 (1)
Skrtel (o.g.), 65
Referee:- Martin Atkinson
Assistants:- Mr. P. Kirkup & Mr. M. Mullarkey
Fourth Official:- Mr. M. Halsey
Spurs (4-4-1-1/4-4-2):- Gomes; Hutton, Gallas (Capt.), Kaboul (sub Bassong, 36), Ekotto; Lennon, Palacios, Modric, Bale; Van der Vaart (sub Defoe, 12) (sub Sandro, 90 +3); Crouch
Subs not used:- Cudicini; Corluka; Kranjcar; Pavlyuchenko
Liverpool (4-4-2):- Reina; Johnson, Carragher (Capt.) (sub Kyrgiakos, 86), Skrtel, Konchesky; Kuyt, Meireles, Lucas, Maxi Rodriguez; Torres, Ngog (sub Aurelio, 74)
Subs not used:- Jones; Jovanovic; Poulsen, Shelvey; Babel
Booked:- Meireles (foul on Bale), Konchesky (foul on Bale), Carragher (foul on Modric), Skrtel, Johnson (foul on Bale)
Azza does it again!
Not for the first time, Aaron Lennon popped up to score a vital last minute/added time match winning goal. I clearly remember him doing the same thing early last season, when we beat Birmingham at home. Not for the first time, Spurs came back from a losing position to win a game this season. They did it most famously last week at The Emirates; over the Champions League ties against Young Boys and Inter; at home against Wolves and Aston Villa, and away against Fulham. Not for the first time, Spurs beat Liverpool 2-1 at home in the Premier League. In fact they’ve done it on three consecutive occasions now, and if you add our 4-2 Carling Cup win of 2008, that’s four consecutive home wins against Liverpool – a former top four side. Winners do things like that, and Spurs most certainly are winners! Oh, and by the way, not for the first time did a Liverpool defender score an own goal! This time it was Skrtel, and not Jamie Carragher, after a great burst into the area by Luka Modric.
Liverpool obviously do aspire to regain their top four position, and to their credit came to Tottenham with pure attacking intentions, playing a 4-4-2, and despite missing Steven Gerrard, caused Spurs quite a few problems, with Ngog partnering the in-form Torres up front, supported by Kuyt and Maxi Rodriguez from the flanks. Spurs though had their own attacking threat in the shape of wing-men Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon, and over the course of the game, each of the Liverpool back four were shown yellow, mostly for trying to stop that man Bale.
Harry Redknapp had problems though, because Rafael van der Vaart did not last any more than 12 minutes, being replaced by Jermain Defoe, when Spurs switched to a traditional 4-4-2. Younes Kaboul too failed to last the first half, and was replaced by Sebastien Bassong, who has been a patient un-used substitute for most of this season. Bassong did an admirable job next to captain William Gallas, who has now skippered the side in three consecutive games (all wins), and who I have to say gave clear visual evidence to the watching fans that he was a captain. There was a moment in the second half, when he gave clear instructions to Gareth Bale at a free kick situation and raced forward to join in the attack.
Spurs early use of two substitutes gave Harry Redknapp limited options for a switch in tactics in the second half though, but Spurs got better and better and went for the throat, despite going one down. Their spirit of adventure was well and truly rewarded to create a 6 point gap between us and Liverpool, and to join the cluster of the top five teams. Spurs ARE in the hunt for top four again, and some are even including them as title challengers.
Lennon had an exciting run after two minutes, and had Bale available on his left as a passing option. Lennon chose the wrong option in trying to find room for a shot, and failed this time. A minute later Lennon was the provider with his cross from the right, which was met by Modric’s right foot shot, held comfortably by Reina. After 8 minutes Maxi Rodriguez seized upon a poor defensive Spurs pass, but hit his shot wide. Two minutes after Defoe’s arrival for Van der Vaart, Modric found him with a cross from the left, and Defoe really just hit his shot at the goalkeeper.
It was an exciting and entertaining end to end game, and after 17 minutes, Torres flicked a clever ball to Maxi Rodriguez, whose right foot shot was saved well by Gomes diving to his left conceding a corner. Liverpool’s Meireles got the first yellow card for unfairly stopping Bale in his tracks on a Spurs break. Following a Spur corner, Alan Hutton carried the ball on a run into the area, and went down claiming a penalty, but referee Mr. Atkinson was having none of it, although there was no booking for any simulation. Now Konchesky saw yellow as he cynically brought Bale down just outside the box, after he made a break down the right channel.
After 30 minutes, Defoe received a cross from the right and his reaction shot drew a reaction block by Jamie Carragher. At the other end Ngog got on the end of a Kuyt cross, but his header went wide. Kaboul went down injured and it wasn’t clear whether he was holding his side or hamstring, but he had to go anyway. Meireles had a long range right footed shot pushed out for a Liverpool corner, which came to nought, then Modric made a break which was unfairly curtailed by the Liverpool skipper who also saw yellow. Bale’s free kick was always going wide of the mark.
Liverpool took the lead in the 42nd minute from a free kick which was lifted into the box, and rebounded off of feet to the feet of Skrtel, who flashed the ball home. From the kick off, Defoe teed up Palacios, whose shot was easy meat for Reina. Palacios was guilty of a number of stray passes before and after this opportunity. In added time, Liverpool could have doubled their lead as Torres was once again the clever provider of a sideways ball to Maxi Rodriguez, who somehow managed to stumble and fail at the last hurdle in front of Gomes, with the defence beaten.
At the start of the second half, Bassong made a great saving tackle against Torres, as Defoe over-hit a pass back to Modric, and the ball ran in Liverpool’s favour. Bale had a shot go over after a Crouch head down from a Lennon cross. Carragher was perhaps lucky not to see a second yellow when he brought down Defoe, but the referee seemed to be careful not to show any second yellows to an individual player. Bale took the free kick just outside the box, and in similar fashion to last week at The Emirates, there was a handball in the Liverpool wall. Defoe stepped up, but unfortunately hit his shot wide. This was another case of “not for the first time” (did Spurs/Defoe miss a penalty)! Skrtel got booked for dissent over the penalty decision.
Spurs did get back on even terms though, with 25 minutes to go, as Modric picked up a pass from the left, burst into the area between two defenders and aimed a low well struck ball into the danger zone. Skrtel tried to clear, but deflected the shot into his own goal. Now it was all happening as Defoe seemed to be fouled after a Liverpool free kick, then Ekotto got close to committing a foul inside the Spurs area under pressure. Ngog was replaced by a defender – Aurelio, and perhaps Roy Hodgson was now looking to secure the point.
Spurs had other ideas though, and one move started at the back with a ball by Gomes to Defoe, fed out to Lennon and Crouch, whose cross was punched out by Reina, only as far as Bale, whose shot was blocked. Liverpool had a corner from the right after some good skill by Lucas, and Meireles hit an arrowed shot that passed just wide of Gomes’ left post. Carragher got injured and will be another much-felt absence for Liverpool for a month, and he was replaced by the Greek centre back Kyrgiakos. Johnson joined the band of Liverpool miscreants, and the “Let’s foul Bale club”. Spurs had the ball in the net through Defoe, but this was correctly given offside. Palacios had been the provider here.
Lennon scored that oh so vital winner after two minutes of added time, as Crouch just about touched on the ball for Lennon who was in a central position, and carried the ball past Konchesky before hitting a low shot to the left of Reina into the net in front of the Paxton Road stand. He might have added another for good measure before time was up, as he made a brilliant run to give himself a one on one chance, but he fired wide.
Next up for Spurs in the Premier League is a tricky trip to St. Andrews, before we entertain Chelsea on Sunday 12th December. Arsenal play Man Utd on Monday 13th December, before they travel to Chelsea the following Sunday. If Spurs can manage a home win against an out of form Chelsea side, then with these other fixtures the top four situation could be very interesting. We need success in Birmingham first though!
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