SATURDAY 11TH JANUARY, 2020
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0(0) LIVERPOOL 1(1)
Referee:- Martin Atkinson
Assistants:- Lee Betts, Constantine Hatzidakis
Fourth official:- Andre Marriner
VAR:- Craig Pawson
Assistant VAR:- Harry Lennard.
Spurs (4-4-1-1):- Gazzaniga; Tanganga, Alderweireld (Capt.), Sanchez, Rose (sub Lamela, 69); Aurier, Winks, Eriksen (sub Lo Celso, 69), Son; Dele; Lucas Moura
Subs not used:- Vorm; Vertonghen, Dier; Sessegnon, Skipp
Liverpool (4-3-3):- Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Henderson (Capt.), Oxlade-Chamberlain (sub Lallana, 61); Salah (sub Shaqiri, 90+1), Firmino, Mane (sub Origi, 81)
Subs not used:- Adrian; Phillips, Williams; Minamino
Booked:- Gomez (foul on Son), Oxlade-Chamberlain (foul on Lucas Moura)
Spurs were valiant in defeat
The scoreline was much less emphatic than many Spurs fans expected. (This one included) The performance was certainly one of the better ones of the season. Until last season, Spurs had enjoyed a form of superiority over Liverpool by finishing above them in seven of the eight preceding seasons. Liverpool have now beaten us in five consecutive games, including last year’s Champions League Final. Jurgen Klopp’s side are not just superior to us, but better then everybody. That’s better than not just the teams in the Premier League but in the whole of European football, as this win gave them the best ever start to a season across the continent with 20 wins and one draw (at old Trafford) in their 21 Premier league games. This win gave Liverpool an overnight lead of 16 points, which could be closed a little by Manchester City, who play today. Spurs are not even in their wake. We are less than half the team Liverpool are. They have 61 points. We have 30.
Decimated by injuries, notably to Harry Kane, Jose Mourinho played a couple of wild cards today. The first was to give 20-year-old Japhet Tanganga his Premier League debut. Tanganga had impressed on Spurs’ pre-season programme in which he had played against some of the other best teams in the world. His only other first team outing had been in the Carabao Cup match at Colchester in September. Here he started at right back, behind Serge Aurier who was the other wild card insofar as he played on the right side of midfield in front of the debutant. In truth, the formation was 4 ½-3 ½-1-1 as Aurier’s role was clearly to defend when called upon, apart from giving Liverpool left back Andy Robertson something to think about. When Lamela replaced Danny Rose after 69 minutes, Aurier reverted to right back, whilst Tanganga was moved to the left back role. In my experience, watching and monitoring youth team matches, Tanganga has primarily been a centre-back. He was thrown in at the deep end today, and he rewarded us with an excellent performance, exemplified as early as the second minute with some goal-saving defending.
The crowd figure was second only to the pre-Christmas match against Chelsea, proving that the fans will flock to the biggest games. Sadly, Spurs are highly unlikely to be hosting Campions League football next season.
Liverpool kicked off and played towards the South stand in the first half. Spurs won a corner in the first minute after a long kick by Gazzaniga was cleared to the feet of Son on the left flank. Son pushed the ball forward to Dele who won the corner off Alexander-Arnold. Nothing came of that and Liverpool broke forward with speed and numbers. Tanganga was called upon to block a goal-bound shot by Firmino, and he then got a touch to Oxlade-Chamberlain’s follow-up, which led to the ball rebounding off the post into Gazzaniga’s relieved hands. Lucas Moura cut in from the left after 4 minutes, but his right footed shot was wide. Son chased Alderweireld’s long ball and won the battle for possession with Henderson. Son got to the area but hit his right footed shot wide. Dele was onto another long ball out by Alderweireld but hit his shot over. It looked as if there was a deflection, but Dele may have handled the ball – albeit accidentally.
Sanchez made a good headed clearance from a ball floated in by Oxlade-Chamberlain. The Spurs centre-back (strangely not used at Middlesbrough last week also defended well against Salah, shepherding the ball out of play. Liverpool were dominating possession, but Spurs were making decent breaks forward.
Dele stole the ball off Henderson in midfield and released Lucas Moura for a run forward. Lucas passed to Eriksen who hit a weak shot which was fodder for Alisson. Liverpool had a free kick out on the left taken by Robertson after 20 minutes. Henderson lifted a ball back across the goal and Gazzaniga saved Van Dijk’s header.
Liverpool are capable of cynical fouls as shown when Gomez was booked for his foul on Son. Mane got no card for his challenge from behind upon Tanganga who was racing towards the half-way line through the middle. Spurs gained nothing from the free kick and shortly after that Mane hit a header over the target after a cross from the left. The lonely goal of the game came in the 37th minute. It followed a throw on the left which arguably should have gone Spurs’ way. Taken by Robertson, the ball was moved to the centre where Salah slipped it to Firmino in space on the left of the area. Firmino hit a powerful low shot past Gazzaniga. There was a VAR review over a possible handball in the build-up, but the goal stood.
Oxlade-Chamberlain got the only other yellow card before the end of the half for his challenge upon Lucas Moura. After a mistake in the middle by Dele the ball ran for Salah who had a run down the right-hand-side before he pulled his shot wide of Gazzaniga’s left post. Spurs had a corner in first half added time, taken by Eriksen but headed well wide by Lucas Moura.
Spurs kicked off the second half and in the first minute Aurier sent Lucas Mora on a run through the middle. Lucas was impeded as he hit his shot wide, and wanted a foul, but got short shrift from referee Martin Atkinson, who throughout the game preferred to seek to let the game flow. Salah was onto a lofted ball by Henderson after 49 minutes and crossed to mane on the left of goal. Mane’s intended pass was back to salah, but the ball ran to Alexander-Arnold who hit a poor shot so wide it nearly went for a throw!
Dele had a run towards goal after Gazzaniga’s long kick on 56 minutes, but met three Liverpool defenders. The ball did reach Aurier though, whose shot was well held by Alisson. After Dele was caught in possession in the middle Liverpool, attacked with Salah teeing up Firmino, whose shot was held by the Spurs keeper. Aurier advanced with the ball after 59 minutes and passed to Eriksen who floated a ball to Son at the back of the area. Son cut inside but his shot was deflected for a corner.
Mane gave Tanganga the slip after 63 minutes, passing to Robertson whose cross was put out by Alderweireld for a Liverpool corner. Alexander-Arnold crossed from the right and Gazzaniga made a decent save from Mane’s header.
Mourinho made a double substitution, inserting Lamela an d Lo Celso for Rose and Eriksen respectively. Tanganga moved to left back, and Aurier fell back. It looked as if Winks was the one man behind a 4-man Spurs midfield reading Lamela, Lo Celso, Dele and Son from right to left. Eriksen was booed off the pitch by Spurs fans who are fed up with his generally half-hearted efforts for their team.
For all of Liverpool’s domination of the possession, once the speedy Lo Celso and Lamela were added Spurs did forge two golden opportunities and most certainly should have scored at least once. The first came later 74 minutes when Lo Celso got a foot in and passed forward to Lucas Moura. Lucas teed up Son, who had the space towards the left of the area. Son hit a right footed shot, which he skied, instead of planting it in the net. He might have scored the Premier league’s goal of the month against Burnley in December, but he fails and frustrates with chances like this all too often.
Winks found Aurier on the right who sent the ball ahead for the run of Lo Celso. Lo Celso hit a cross which passed across the Liverpool area. Winks showed some good determination as he moved forward down the left side, winning a ball which Son then despatched to Aurier on the right. Aurier crossed to the back post and Lo Celso stretched, making good contact but somehow managed to hit his shot wide all the way across the goalmouth. This was the golden chance for Spurs, and one which seemed harder to miss.
Dele fought hard in the middle and this move led to a run by Lucas Moura brought to an end. Spurs came back though and Lamela had a shot which was held by Alisson. Liverpool had a chance and I was screaming “Oh no, not Origi!” as Salah and Firmino gave the Liverpool substitute a good opening, but Gazzaniga was equal to the shot. You’ll remember that it was Origi’s goal in Madrid which out the Champions League out of Spurs’ reach last summer. Lamela got into the Liverpool area and upset the Liverpool players who felt he was looking for a penalty. We entered three minutes of added time but Spurs’ only chance fell to Son, fed by Lucas Moura, hitting a left foot shot that was cosy for Alisson.
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