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Spurs v Liverpool, 15.12.13


Liverpool scorers:-
Suarez, 18, 84
Henderson, 40
Flanagan, 75
Sterling, 89

Attendance:-36, 069

Referee:- Mr. J. Moss
Assistants:- Mr. S. Bennett & Mr. S. Child
Fourth official:- Mr. A. Marriner

Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris; Walker, Capoue, Dawson (Capt.), Naughton (sub Fryers, 46); Sandro (sub Holtby, 30), Dembele (sub Townsend, 61); Lennon, Paulinho, Chadli; Soldado

Subs not used:- Friedel; Lamela, Sigurdsson; Defoe

Booked:- Dawson (foul on Henderson), Walker (foul on Flanagan), Holtby (foul on Allen)

Sent off:- Paulinho, 63 (chest-high foul on Suarez)

Liverpool (4-2-3-1); Mignolet; Johnson, Skrtel, Sakho, Flanagan; Allen, Lucas (sub Luis Alberto, 79); Sterling, Henderson, Coutinho (sub Moses, 90); Suarez (Capt.)

Subs not used:- Jones; Kelly, Toure, Agger; Aspas,

No bookings

Spurs in total disarray

Words fail me, really. In the space of three weeks, I have seen my team, regarded as Champions League and possible title contenders at the start of the season, lose 6-0, and now 5-0 to teams who can still be regarded as contenders, whilst Spurs will struggle to even qualify for Europe through league position.

I went into this game feeling optimistic. After all, Liverpool would be missing Gerrard, Sturridge and Enrique. However, the Reds missed none of these personnel, as they simply tore us apart with fast-paced penetrative and devastating football.

Credit has to be given to Liverpool, who climbed up to second place, only two points behind Arsenal. They really were as good as Spurs were bad, and Spurs were as bad as I can remember seeing them for many years, even as recently as that 6-0 drubbing at The Etihad.

Andre Villas-Boas's job has to be on the line now surely, after two such horrible defeats in a short space of time. He was disadvantaged by the absence of at least three centre-backs who, when fit, are better than our Captain, Michael Dawson, and stand-in centre-back Etienne Capoue.

I said before the game that we needed a fit Vlad Chiriches, who I felt was the only one of our defenders with the guile and speed to keep up with, and defend against Suarez, who scored two and made another two of Liverpool's goals.

Of course, we also had to manage without a left back. Danny Rose is clearly not yet Premier League match fit, and our only other recognised left back with decent Premier League experience (and ability) is swanning around on loan at QPR. Kyle Naughton had a woeful time against Raheem Sterling, and was replaced by Zeki Fryers at the interval. Statistics tells that we did worse in the second half, when three goals were scored, but all three did come after Paulinho was sent off by referee Jon Moss for a chest-high foul on Suarez. So now we'll miss Paulinho for the next three games.

No wonder Spurs didn't publish any team news yesterday ahead of the game. They obviously didn't want to air their weaknesses to the opposition. It didn't matter though, because Brendan Rodgers had clearly decided to target the Spurs left flank being guarded (I use the word in its loosest context) by Naughton. Presumably, Chadli's selection was about protecting Naughton more effectively than would Gylfi Sigurdsson, or Andros Townsend. That one didn't work either.

The final straw for AVB really was the enforced withdrawal after just 30 minutes of fans' favourite Sandro.

However, by then, Spurs were already lucky to be only one down, as they were being badly over-run by the visitors, and failed to muster a single shot on target all game.

From the start, Liverpool showed the energy, skill and outright desire to win the game. Spurs seemed incapable of tracking them; closing them down, or stopping them breaching our oh so fallible defence. Thank goodness for Lloris, who was particularly unlucky after making a double save before Henderson finally put Liverpool two up after 40 minutes.

Regarding the details, I'll be as brief as possible. In 15 years when we will have won another league title (I can dream, can't I), people will want to look back to bad days like this!

With Dembele partnering Sandro in the defensive two, Paulinho had the advanced role, between Lennon on the right and Chadli on the left. Chadli got into a central position after 5 minutes, and tried to put Lennon through, inside the box. Lennon stumbled and the ball ran to Paulinho, who hit his shot well over at The Park Lane End.

Naughton fouled Sterling just outside the area, and just about managed to defend the free kick, but only with half a clearance, giving Sterling a chance which he fired wide.

Early decisions did not seem to be going our way, as Liverpool were allowed some heavy physical challenges by Mr. Moss. Mind you, Spurs just need to be a stronger team in such situations. Paulinho couldn't get a decision for such a challenge, whilst Naughton was the subject of "words" from the referee for his protestations.

Spurs were under pressure from two or three Liverpool corners, with Sterling getting deep to the bye-line before cutting the ball back to the middle. A Liverpool goal was coming, and come it did, when Dawson struggled to keep his feet, and failed to get control of the ball he was trying to defend, against Henderson. The ball ran for Liverpool and fell to the feet of Suarez, who planted it into the net to the right of the un-protected Lloris.

Spurs did try to get back on terms, with Dembele and Paulinho taking the ball forward together. The ball was pushed out to Chadli on the left, but he wildly over-hit his cross.

Lloris made a good save from Suarez after 21 minutes, when the Liverpool captain looked as if he must score, but Lloris managed to push the shot wide.

Chadli crossed from the left and Soldado tried a back-header, which went over the bar. Dawson got the first booking of the day for chopping Henderson just inside the Spurs half. Liverpool were all over us already. Coutinho hit a shot that hit the ground first, then the bar. Glenn Johnson hit a powerful follow-up, which went over the bar.

Off went Sandro, replaced by Holtby, and such was the level of Spurs' planning that Lewis didn't know he was the corner kicker. From his corner, Chadli headed over.

Spurs were simply scared stiff of Liverpool, and even Lloris panicked when he mis-judged the bounce of an approaching ball, and had to head it, because he was outside his area. Suarez pounced, but Lloris managed to retrieve the situation, and the ball was cleared.

Soldado had another header held from another Chadli cross, before the same two players combined on the left side of goal. Soldado pushed the ball back to Holtby, who just pulled his shot too much, and wide.

The second goal came despite a double save from Lloris, first from Henderson, then from Suarez, before Henderson swept home the remains.

Soldado did have the ball in the net at the other end, but was adjudged to have fouled Mignolet as he chased the ball towards the edge of his area. The decision was probably correct, although of course not welcomed by the home crowd, who felt they were getting a raw deal from Mr. Moss. Remember though that this was the very same man who saw no offence when Vertonghen pulled the pants of a Villa player down earlier this season.

Spurs had an early chance in the second half, when Lewis Holtby fed Soldado, who, going for power, hit the ball well over. Sakho managed to hit the Spurs post from close range following a Liverpool corner.

At the other end Mignolet patted a Holtby cross as far as Soldado, who was again off target.

The second half was being played in unpleasant driving rain. Soldado went down in the box, but it was an unsuccessful penalty appeal, as Lennon fired wide.

AVB's final throw of the dice was to replace Dembele with Townsend, who played on the left, with Chadli moving inside. It didn't matter, as we saw little more of either of them, as Paulinho was shown Spurs' first red card of the season for his foul on Suarez.

Holtby also took a booking soon after and Spurs were in danger of losing their discipline completely. Flanagan got into the scoring act in quite spectacular style after Suarez crossed from the right, hitting a powerful shot that went in off the underside of the bar. Cue mass celebrations in front of the Liverpool crowd at The Park Lane End. Spurs were in total disarray by now, and Kyle Walker was the only line of defence, having to cover the left flank as Liverpool broke clear.

Suarez made it 4-0, and two more goals to his name, receiving a long ball that left Dawson stranded. Lloris raced out to try and cover, but Suarez beat him with a clever flick over him into the right side of goal.

The final nail in the Spurs coffin was hammered in by Sterling, from another Suarez pass to complete Liverpool's biggest ever win at White Hart Lane, and their first win here since May 2008.

I can't wait to forget it!

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