BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 30TH MARCH, 2014
LIVERPOOL 4 (2) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0)
Kaboul (o.g), 2
Referee:- Phil Dowd
Assistants:- S Ledger & M Mullarkey
Fourth official:- H Webb
Liverpool (4-3-3):- Mignolet; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Flanagan; Henderson, Gerrard (Capt.) (sub Lucas, 70), Coutinho (sub Allen, 64); Sterling (sub Moses, 83), Sturridge, Suarez
Subs not used:- Jones; Iago Aspas, Sakho, Cissokho
(Armband to Agger)
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris’ Naughton, Kaboul (Capt.), Vertonghen (sub Dawson, 24), Rose; Sigurdsson, Bentaleb (sub Dembele, 60); Lennon (sub Townsend, 60), Chadli, Eriksen; Soldado
Subs not used:- Friedel; Sandro, Winks; Kane
Booked:- Kaboul (foul on Sturridge), Sigurdsson (foul on Coutinho)
Liverpool spring forward. Spurs fall back.
The result was not a surprise. Even the scoreline would not have surprised many. It was for Spurs fans the manner of defeat, or should I call it surrender. Some say the game was lost before the team left the tunnel, perhaps even with a team selection that included no defensive midfielder, with Sandro staying on the bench throughout proceedings. Paulinho, one of our three record breaking signings last summer, was not even on the bench. Perhaps he is persona non grata with manager/coach Tim Sherwood, who was not to be seen by Spurs fans throughout the game, as he remained in his lofty position, somewhere in the stand. “Where is our manager” was one of the more polite chants by the end of the game, when gallows humour and pure hatred towards the manager, and more especially the chairman was vented by the gathered throng.
As I left and walked down Utting Avenue, there was a line of VIP coaches awaiting those mugs (sorry, lucky people) who had paid a considerable sum for luxury travel and treatment and the “best available” seats for something like £300, I imagine.
The game was most certainly lost in the second minute, when Younes Kaboul managed to turn a Glenn Johnson cross into his own net with Daniel Sturridge the intended recipient actually ahead of the ball. We all knew that Liverpool are a team on fire at present, having won their last seven league games, and scored a hatful of goals in the process. Spurs looked like frightened rabbits, whilst Liverpool threatened to score with every move forward. How the scoreline was restricted to four in the end, I don’t quite know. The Spurs chant towards the end of the game suggested that Liverpool were not that good because they could only manage four goals against the shambles in front of them, but that’s not fair on Liverpool, who are a classy outfit on and off the pitch.
I should mention here that before the game, as the “Anfield Anthem” was sung and banners raised, there was, in the bottom corner of The Kop stand a banner with R.I.P Darren Alexander. Darren, as co-chairman of the Spurs Trust, and even before he had that position was known on both sides of Liverpool for his work for genuine fans’ causes. The recognition by Liverpool fans was pure class, which I applaud. A lot of our fans were busy giving a rendition of the ancient “Sign on” chant.
Danny Rose was suffering badly on the left flank, under attack from Sterling and Johnson, and probably not supported as well as might be hoped by Christian Eriksen, who was on the left of the Spurs midfield. At times, Nabil Bentaleb tried to help Danny, but he too struggled a lot of the time. It’s really not fair to pick out individuals, because as a whole, the team struggled to pick a pass, make incisive movement off the ball, and to move forward at anywhere near the pace of their opponents.
There had been a number of scares, and perhaps Eriksen had got into a decent attacking position once for Spurs, but after 10 minutes, Coutinho picked out Suarez on the left side, and his intended cross just went over Sturridge’s head in front of goal. With Bentaleb and Rose failing to prevent another Sterling advance, he passed to Suarez, this time on the right, feeding Coutinho for a shot that passed just wide, hit first time.
Eriksen cut in from the left with a decent run, and tried to feed the ball to Soldado, but the move was read well by the strong Liverpool defence. Vertonghen over-stretched at the back chasing back a ball, which he felt he had to put out for a corner, and he never recovered from the injury. Sigurdsson was penalised on the edge of the area for handball by Phil Dowd who received representations from the Spurs captains throughout the game. There were a number of such dangerous free kicks given. Suarez took the kick and it went over the target. Spurs only had 10 men on the pitch, because Vertonghen had gone down again, and had to be replaced by Michael Dawson. Hence the use of the word “Captains”. I thought Dawson took possession of his armband, but apparently this was retained by Kaboul.
Unfortunately, and disastrously, almost the first touch of our captain was a slightly backward pass to Kaboul, which was under strength, and mis-controlled by Kaboul, allowing Suarez to carry the ball into the clear and goalward with only Lloris to beat. The Uruguayan did not fail, scoring with a shot across the keeper. The game was now more than lost!
Eriksen actually had a shot on goal after 26 minutes, which was blocked, before Sigurdsson hit a shot, which was deflected and picked up by Mignolet. Kaboul got booked for a foul on Sturridge on the edge of the box. It was Sturridge’s turn to take the kick, but he too fired the ball over. Bentaleb had a shot for Spurs, and the keeper had to stretch to his right to save. Eriksen was the player most likely to create something for Spurs, but Chadli and Sigurdsson were also popping up. It has to be said that Aaron Lennon was rarely anywhere to be seen, and his substitution was cheered by Spurs fans in the second half. Lennon is a shadow of his former self, and surely in his last season for Spurs. Perhaps he knows that. Kaboul’s contract is up in the summer. He knows that too, of course. Vertonghen, we are told, wants Champions League football, so the question arises about which of our highly paid players really wants to play for the badge?
Mignolet had to make a very good save from a Soldado shot, diving to his left and punching clear. The chance had been created by Danny Rose and Sigurdsson.
Kaboul failed to deal with Raheem Sterling, who crossed to the back post, where Suarez headed goalward. Lloris got enough of a touch to force the ball onto the inside corner of the bar and post, and somehow the ball stayed out of goal, going along the line, before being cleared. Just before the break, Naughton was penalised on the edge of the box, and this time Suarez took a turn at a free kick, which went over the far post.
Henderson had a shot go over the target in front of The Kop, after a corner, before Liverpool scored their third goal, when left back Flanagan cut inside and picked out Coutinho with a good ball. Coutinho was sharp and beat Lloris low to his right with a right footed drive. Chadli got down the right channel for Spurs and his cross was cleared as far as Bentaleb, who fired over from 25 yards. Spurs made a double substitution, and at least Townsend and Dembele showed some desire. Why! Townsend even passed a player at least once! Dembele , Eriksen and Chadli were involved in a determined effort on the left, before Dembele’s final ball was hit over by Chadli.
More defensive frailty by Tottenham gave Sturridge a chance, but his back-heel attempt was cleared. The agony, at least as far as the scoreline was concerned was complete, when Jordan Henderson hit a free kick through a crowd of legs in the Spurs area, which made it all the way to the net.
Spurs had actually managed their first corner around this time, after a Chadli shot was blocked, and from the corner Dawson hit a shot over the bar. Spurs actually finished the game with 10 men, as Soldado was carried off, having gone down twice with injuries.
Those negative chants in the closing stages resembled those heard in Gerry Francis’s last game in charge, which was another 4-0 drubbing at Anfield in November, 1997. They included “We want our Tottenham back”, “Levy, Levy you’re a ****” and “We want Levy out”. 606 after the game was filled with despondent Spurs fans, who out-numbered the Liverpool fans who were ecstatic at going top of the Premier League, and in control of their own destiny with Chelsea and Man City among their remaining visitors.
The early signs on the Spursometer are that this could be held as bad a performance as any this season. It seems that the bad old days are back at Tottenham, whilst the good old days are very much back at Liverpool. The clocks changed last night in the UK. Liverpool have taken a spring forward, whilst Spurs have fallen back, and on this form, will struggle to hold onto a place sufficient to qualify for the Europa League.
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