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Liverpool v Spurs, 07.05.22

PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 7TH MAY, 2022
(7.45pm)
LIVERPOOL 1(0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1(0)

Liverpool scorer:-
Diaz, 74

Spurs scorer:-
Son, 56

Attendance:- 53,177

Referee:- Michael Oliver
Assistants:- Stuart Burt, Simon Bennett
Fourth official:- Martin Atkinson
VAR:- Darren England
Assistant VAR:- Marc Perry.

Teams:-
Liverpool (4-3-3):- Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson (sub Tsimikas, 64); Henderson (Capt.) (sub Jota, 65), Fabinho (sub Keita, 88), Thiago; Salah, Mane, Diaz (Armband to Van Dijk)

Subs not used:- Kelleher; Gomez, Matip; Milner, Jones; Origi

Booked:- Tsimikas (foul on Kulusevski), Fabinho (foul on Son), Keita (foul on Kane)

Spurs (3-4-3):- Lloris (Capt.); Romero, Dier, Davies; Emerson Royal, Hojbjerg, Bentancur, Sessegnon (sub Sanchez, 78);Kulusevski (sub Winks, 85), Kane, Son (sub Bergwijn, 90+1)

Subs not used:- Gollini; Rodon; White, Matthew Craig; Lucas Moura, Scarlett

Booked:- Davies (foul on Salah), Sessegnon (foul on Salah)

Spurs denied by a cruel deflection

Anfield

In the end, it was only the cruel deflection of Rodrigo Bentancur’s toe, putting Luis Diaz’s shot irretrievably beyond the reach of Hugo Lloris, which denied Spurs a heroic and rare victory at Anfield. Son Heung-min had given us a wonderful 56th minute lead, on the end of a smashing team move. I cannot tell you just how brilliant it was to see that shot hit the net right in front of our very eyes at The Anfield Road End. My seat was row 19, number 85. 1985. In 1985, Garth Crooks had scored the goal which gave Spurs a historic first win at Anfield since the sinking of The Titanic. When Son scored, I became convinced that was an omen, but it was not to be.

The pre-match atmosphere was electric, even before the traditional rendition of “You’ll never walk alone” there was a tune played at maximum power which had the home crowd going. Spurs fans soon made sure they were heard too and gave their team and coach every ounce of their support. Anfield holds around 53,000 these days and a new stand is being built above the existing Anfield Road structure to increase the capacity.

The Spurs team was at maximum available strength. Jurgen Klopp’s rotation of his deep squad included Konate next to Van Dijk, and he included Luis Diaz as part of the front three. The away section is fitted with safe standing rails, which afforded me more comfort. After all, it remains impossible to sit down in a seating area built on traditional terracing, created for standing customers only.

Spurs kicked off and played towards The Kop End. After the game, Klopp criticised Spurs deep defensive line. After all, how dare a visiting team seek to deny his chosen men? To a man, Spurs defended like tigers. Each of the back three has to be commended for their supreme blocking skills, supported by those in front of them. I thought Emerson Royal had a very good game up and down his line. Ryan Sessegnon was less effective, but he does get the assist for Son’s goal. Until he tired and was replaced late in the game, Kulusevski too gave another skilful and sterling performance.

There was an early battle between Diaz and Emerson, won by our man, but Liverpool’s press was under way. Lloris comfortably held an early long shot by Mane. Such was the effectiveness of his defence, Hugo was probably most stretched diving to retrieve crosses, rather than to save shots on goal. Spurs broke out after 6 minutes. The move was started by Kulusevski but ended with a Kane pass to Son whose shot was parried by Alisson, before Bentancur sought to take advantage of the loose ball, but saw his shot pushed around the corner. We then discovered there had been an offside anyway.

I think it was a headed clearance by Dier that was taken on by Kane who showed good skill to control and take on the ball. In the end Alexander-Arnold came off best near the Liverpool bye-line. After a cross by Kulusevski and a pass by Hojbjerg, Kane had an effort blocked. Kulusevski was on the floor and needed treatment. The home fans whistled their dissent, as they would on any occasion a Spurs player went down, or of course when Hugo took too long to take goal kicks for their liking. Don’t they know, that’s called “game management”?

Liverpool won a corner after a battle between Henderson and Emerson. Robertson’s corner was headed wide by Fabinho. After 23 minutes, Spurs were struggling to clear their lines and Alexander-Arnold had a shot from 25 yards which passed over the goal. Diaz worked his way to a shooting position but between them Dier and Romero blocked. Lloris did have to make a save to push away what was a defensive header by Sessegnon, struck from left of goal, but going dangerously into the 6-yard area.

After a Liverpool free kick was half-cleared Thiago fed the ball to Diaz, but Spurs cleared again. Liverpool had a free kick after a foul by Hojbjerg on Thiago. Dier headed the free kick out for a corner. This was taken by Alexander-Arnold from the right and headed onto the top of the bar by Van Dijk. Spurs did persist in playing out from the back, often putting themselves under pressure. Conte regards this as brave play, seeking to enable space for Kane and Son behind an advanced defensive line. However, on one occasion, Romero fouled Mane and after a Thiago shot was blocked Liverpool had another corner on the left. After Robertson’s scorner was cleared, Lloris was down to save a Diaz shot comfortably.

Spurs broke out and so nearly scored before half-time. Kane passed to Son who fed the ball in turn to Hojbjerg. Hojbjerg’s shot from outside the area went out of play off Alisson’s right post. Both sides had hit the woodwork.

Liverpool kicked off the second half and played towards The Kop. Referee Michael Oliver gave no foul when Mane got the better of Romero, but Ben Davies came to the rescue this time , clearing Mane’s attempt to find Salah. More Liverpool pressure followed in front of a Kop crowd baying for a goal to take their team ahead of title rivals Manchester City for a day. Thiago passed to Henderson, but Bentancur was alive to the situation and cleared. Alexander-Arnold’s follow-up was blocked. Thiago also had a shot blocked after another corner.

Fabinho was a fouling machine today and only a free kick was awarded for another foul on Kane. Kane subsequently sent a good ball to Emerson who won a corner off Robertson. Liverpool were soon on the attack again and Ben Davies was first in the book for a foul on Salah. Lloris was now deploying the long ball now and again and Sessegnon won a corner on the left, but that was cleared.

Spurs’ 56th minute goal was an arrow blow to Liverpool hearts, but one of those supreme “being there” moments for Spurs fans. Lloris’s long ball was fielded by Emerson who was in a position left of centre. He lobbed a pass cross the field, but it was Kane’s skill in taking the ball under control that led to the goal. Harry passed to Ryan Sessegnon on the left of the Liverpool area, and he crossed (between Robertson and Van Dijk) to Son who gratefully scored from 6 yards.

This was Son’s 20th league goal of the season. He is only the second Tottenham player to net 20 Premier League goals in a season without any of them being penalties, after Gareth Bale in 2012-13. He is the fifth player to score 20 goals for Spurs in a Premier League season. Sheringham, Klinsmann and Kane are the other three. “Sonny” is now just two goals behind Salah for the Golden boot!

Son’s goal was soon followed by more good play by Emerson, this time in his usual right wing position. He found Sessegnon with a deep cross, who turned the ball back into the middle. Son could only prod the ball outside the post. Kulusevski tried a long range shot, but this went straight to Alisson’s hands.

Such was the success of Emerson that Jurgen Klopp took off Robertson, replacing him with Tsimikas. Henderson also went off and was replaced by another striker – Jota. It wasn’t before Tsimikas saw yellow after fouling Kulusevski. Sessegnon was another Spurs man to go into referee Michael Oliver’s book for another foul on Salah, who had been kept relatively quiet by all the attention given. Davies blocked a Salah effort as he cut in typically from the right before trying a shot.

Diaz’s goal came following a pass by Thiago. The Colombian worked his way to a shooting position, and from my position I could see how Hugo was beaten by a cruel deflection as Bentancur stretched to find another block. Anfield roared.

Sessegnon was replaced by Davinson Sanchez for another rare outing. He took over Davies’ left of centre position while Ben moved out to the wing-back slot. Fabinho finally saw yellow (and possibly deserved red) for what turned out to be an elbow strike to Son’s head and neck. Son needed attention and of course was whistled for his audacious time-wasting.

Antonio took off the tiring Kulusevski for Harry Winks. Liverpool were desperately seeking a winner, but Spurs had late chances too. Kane passed to Son who put Davies in with a short pass. Davies’ hit a reaction shot, but that was off target. Salah took a pass from Diaz, but his shot was deflected over the bar.

In added time Son was replaced by Bergwijn, who even had a chance in the area after Kane’s touch, but he hesitated long enough for Liverpool to clear. Keita had replaced Fabinho, and he was booked for unfairly halting a Kane advance. Kane had a chance after another Emerson cross, but that ball was cleared before Winks returned the ball from deep on the right. Hojbjerg could, and should have taken a shot at goal, but instead tried to tee up Kane, allowing Liverpool to clear again.

The point leaves us one behind Arsenal and they play Leeds today. They could be four points ahead of us when we meet on Thursday, so apart from the need to beat them we will need them to slip up somewhere (and win our remaining games) in order to claim the Champions League place. We are, however, guaranteed at least fifth place and Europa League football, which will be an improvement on last year. I didn’t expect to even get a point today, so that return is gratefully (and deservedly) received.

Prior to this game Liverpool had won 12 successive league games at Anfield. They last dropped a point at home against Brighton in October. They had won the last five home league games without conceding a goal. Liverpool had gained 40 points from the last 42 available, only failing to win in April's 2-2 draw at Manchester City. They had kept 11 clean sheets in those 14 games.

Spurs are the only team this season not to lose to either Manchester City or Liverpool in the league. Two wins against City and two draws against Liverpool is another great achievement.

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