WEDNESDAY 16TH DECEMBER, 2020
LIVERPOOL 2(1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1(1)
Referee:- Anthony Taylor
Assistants:- Gary Beswick, Adam Nunn
Fourth official:- Mike Dean
VAR:- Chris Kavanagh
Assistant VAR:- Peter Kirkup.
Liverpool (4-3-3):- Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, R. Williams, Fabinho, Robertson; Jones, Henderson (Capt.), Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane
Subs not used:- Kelleher; Phillips, N. Williams; Keita, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Minamino, Origi
Spurs (4-4-2):- Lloris (Capt.); Aurier, Alderweireld, Dier, Davies; Sissoko, Lo Celso (sub Lucas Moura, 58), Hojbjerg, Bergwijn (sub Reguilon, 76); Son (sub Dele, 87), Kane
Subs not used:- Hart; Rodon; Winks, Ndombele
Booked:- Lo Celso (foul on Robertson), Hojbjerg (foul on Firmino)
Late goal knocks Spurs off the top of the table
In the end it was a par result for a Spurs trip to Anfield. We were beaten by a late goal and our three week spell at the top of the league has ended. For a while I thought we might be the team to end Liverpool's run of 65 league games at Anfield unbeaten, especially as Steven Bergwijn missed two fantastic chances to score. You have to take such chances to win key games like this.
Jose Mourinho had words with Jurgen Klopp at the final whistle and apparently told him “the best team lost”. I wouldn’t agree with that, bearing in mind Liverpool had 76% possession, more shots on and off target, and more corners than Spurs, and yet we did have the best chances to win when Alisson was beaten by both Bergwijn chances, and even Harry Kane missed a good headed chance from a corner. We played better in the early part of the second half to forge those excellent chances but once again lacked adventure for too much of the game, particularly in the first half, or did Liverpool play so well they pinned us down in our own half? I think we proved in the second half that we could have done better for more of the game.
Jose made a couple of changes with Ben Davies playing instead of Reguilon, and Lo Celso taking Ndombele’s spot. Spurs played with four across the midfield. Sissoko, Lo Celso, Hojbjerg and Bergwijn from right to left. There was np Matip for Jurgen Klopp whose confidence in 19-year-old Rhys Williams was well-placed. Curtis Jones (also 19) gave an assured and skilled performance in the midfield too.
Liverpool was the one place that fans could still attend a game today, due to the other venues all being Tier 3. Those fans gave the usual gutsy rendition of “You’ll never walk alone” before all present observed a formal applause for Gerard Houllier whose death was announced this week. Jose Mourinho paid heartfelt tribute to Houllier when interviewed before the game.
Spurs must have won the toss and turned the home side round, because Liverpool kicked off playing towards the Kop Stand, where most of the fans were housed. Within the first minute Trent Alexander-Arnold had a shot at goal from some distance. The shot must have taken a slight deflection because it won a corner. Liverpool had a free kick after 10 minutes, following a foul by Sissoko on Wijnaldum. This was taken by Robertson and headed by Firmino just inside the right post where Lloris made a comfortable save.
Toby Alderweireld defended well inside his area against two opponents, at the expense of a corner. Both Alderweireld and Eric Dier defended stoutly against Salah, always a tricky opponent. Sissoko crossed from the right after 17 minutes, aiming for Harry Kane, but Robertson cleared that for a rare Spurs corner. At the other end Robertson got into the left side of the Spurs area and crossed for salah, but the Egyptian International hit his shot straight at Lloris. Salah gave Liverpool a 26th minute lead that was warranted by their domination, but still lucky in its execution. Curtis Jones had got into the left side of the box and touched the ball to Salah whose shot took a heavy deflection from Toby Alderweireld before looping beyond Lloris into the net inside his left post.
Aurier failed to clear and Jones nicked the ball before hitting a shot, thankfully straight at Hugo. Mane had an overhead shot which again was comfortably held by our skipper. Spurs then broke out of their half with Lo Celso sending “Sonny” away with a pass from his own half. Son was on the left and raced away with the ball, shaping to shoot to the left of Alisson before sliding the ball into the net to the goalkeeper’s right. There was a lengthy VAR review for offside, but the goal stood. It was Son’s 15th club goal of the season and his 11th league goal. It was his 99th Spurs goal.
Firmino tried to hit a shot across Lloris but the goalkeeper saved. Son was fouled at the other end and he and Lo Celso mulled over what to do before Lo Celso hit a pathetic kick straight to Alisson. Mane won a battle with Aurier and got into a shooting position but again fired straight at the Spurs keeper. In truth, for all the statistical domination, Lloris had not been tested with any difficult shots.
In the first minute of the second half Bergwijn showed good strength against Alexander-Arnold to get onto a long ball poked forward and had the goalkeeper to beat. Bergwijn did that but also pushed his shot the wrong side of the far post. After 49 minutes, Alisson was outside his area and hit a rushed clearance which was intercepted by Kane who got to his feet before hitting a long shot (probably 35 yards) which Alisson pushed to the right of his post for a corner. Spurs continued to push forward and after a Lo Celso pass Kane had another chance but hit his right-footed chance just over.
There were pockets of space for Firmino and Salah outside the Spurs area. Firmino teed up Salah who hit a shot to the right of Lloris but Hugo dived and pushed the ball out for a corner. Lo Celso was one of two Spurs players who had been booked and he was replaced Lucas Moura who was industrious up and down the right channel. After 62 minjtes Son managed to back-head the ball and Bergwijn got behind the defence having only the keeper to beat. He was in a similar position as his first chance and again beat Alisson with his shot, but the ball rebounded off the post and out of danger. To miss two chances of that nature at this level was really unforgiveable, and of course ultimately expensive.
Firmino had a shot held by Lloris and after Harry Kane lost control of the ball when passed to him in the middle by Son it was returned to the outside of the Spurs area where again Salah fired straight at Lloris. On the whole Mane had been well-policed by Aurier, but Mane got inside the left of the area to receive Jones’ pass before unleashing a shot which went out of play off the top of the bar. Aurier must have got a slight touch there because a corner resulted.
Bergwijn was replaced by Reguilon who played ahead of Davies. Harry Kane had a chance when he received a long ball but he fired wide across the keeper. Kane wanted a corner but got no joy out of referee Mr. Taylor. At the other end when defending a free kick situation, Harry needed attention for a head injury when clashing with Wijnaldum, but he was ale to carry on. Kane did have a good headed chance at the other end but headed down with the ball bouncing over the bar after a corner. Dier hit a free kick straight at the keeper after a foul on late substitute Dele Alli.
Mane won a late corner in a battle with Aurier in the last minute of ordinary time. Robertson took the kick and Firmino found space to power a header into the net. Sadly, Harry Kane was probably our most culpable defender here.
Bearing in mind there had been a delay for Kane’s treatment and the referee made a point of waving his watch when Spurs took their time over substitutions, there were only three minutes of added time which were safely negotiated by the home side who went three points ahead of Spurs. Apparently this was the first time that the two teams had met when occupying the top two places. Hopefully that situation can be the same next month when we host Liverpool in another midweek clash, and hopefully we can regain top place.
Things could have been worse but Southampton could only draw against 10-man Arsenal and Leicester lost at home to Everton. It is tight at the top and we must look for maximum points when Leicester come to The Lane on Sunday.
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