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Liverpool v Spurs, 09.04.2000

FA CARLING PREMIERSHIP
SUNDAY 9TH APRIL, 2000
LIVERPOOL 2 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0)

Liverpool Scorers:-
Berger, 34
Owen, 61

Referee:- S. Lodge

Attendance:- 44,536

Teams:-
Liverpool (4-4-2):- Westerveld; Carragher, Henchoz, Hyppia, Matteo; Thomson (sub Smicer, 72), Hamann, Murphy (sub Heggem, 82), Berger; Owen (sub Camara, 87), Heskey

Subs not used:- Nielsen; Song

Bookings - Murphy.

Spurs (4-4-1-1):- Walker; Carr, Perry, Campbell, Taricco; Iversen, Anderton, Freund, Clemence (sub Etherington, 77); Ginola (sub Davies, 77); Armstrong

Subs not used:- Baardsen; Young; Korsten

Bookings - Perry, Freund, Taricco.

At the end of a week when George Graham admitted that next season will make or break him, Spurs slipped into the bottom half of the table, for the first time since the beginning of the season, as their goal difference is one goal worse than that of Newcastle who were engaged against Chelsea at Wembley today. Whilst I did not view the game, I look forward to eye witness reports, and would be interested to know how Sol fared against Heskey, who usually gives him such a hard time.

Graham has also claimed that the team was fighting relegation when he joined the club. This is simply not true, as a good run under David Pleat led to us holding a similar position to that we hold today. About the only good news was the introduction of both Etherington and Davies in front of such a big crowd, which can only help them to find their feet at this level.

Here is an eye witness report from my friend, Ray Lo:-

As Paul is unable to do a report I am going to attempt to do him justice with one for this match. I have just got back from Liverpool and have put this together hopefully without to many mistakes.

It was a fine sunny afternoon which found my brother and I down on the front row, which is not the best place to get a good view of the pitch as I had a steward's head in front of me blocking the goal at the Kop end. This game was played on Sunday because of the running of the Grand National at nearby Aintree. Spurs might as well have gone there as it could be said of today's game that they were not at the races. This was so one-sided that I don't think Westerveld had a shot to save whereas Walker was kept busy all afternoon.

Graham brought in Clemence for Korsten and played him on the left side of the midfield. Instead of moving Ginola to the right-hand side as he has done before he decided to put him up front with Armstrong and moving Iversen to the right side. As in previous games when David has played up front he tends to drop deep a lot leaving Chris on his own. I don't know if this was deliberate by Graham but as with the Arse game it was IMO the wrong formation.

After a minute's silence in memory of Hillsborough the game got under way with Spurs defending the Kop end and Liverpool attacking in numbers. Heskey managed to make contact with all the back four inside ten minutes which he continued to do throughout the game. Our midfield was pulled back to hold their midfield, leaving the front pair isolated with only the occasional long ball to chase which usually caught Armstrong offside. This also meant that most of Walker's kicks went to Red shirts.

With so many bodies in the middle very little passing was possible with either interceptions or wayward balls being the norm. Liverpool were harder and quicker into the tackle with only Freund getting into the thick of the action, Iversen was not reacting fast enough, Clemence trying hard and Anderton diving into tackles, while avoiding being tackled himself, meant the pressure was slowly mounting.

Perry allowed Owen to run into him giving away a freekick and getting a yellow card in the process. This gave Berger a chance but his kick was blocked. The reprieve was short lived as in the 34th minute Thompson headed on a ball which Berger hit first time giving Walker no chance.

Freund then got another stupid booking when Spurs won a free kick 25 yards out. Because Lodge had paced out the 10 yards for Berger's kick earlier but would not do the same for our kick Freund paced it out for him which earned him a place in the ref's book. The only other thing of note in the half was a thunderbolt from Heskey against the crossbar.

There were no changes for the start of the second half and Liverpool kept the pressure on with Walker having to make three good saves from Thompson one of which was in a one-on-one after he had got behind the defence. The second goal came from a long ball which reached Owen because Heskey took out Campbell. Heskey got the ball from Owen and fired a shot into the near post that Walker could only block. Heskey collected the rebound and laid it on to Owen for a simple tap-in. With the game now safe 'Pool made their substitutions and Graham even put on Etherington and Davies. Walker saved well from Smicer to add to his tally on the day. Etherington got to the bye-line and crossed low to the near post and Davies did the same from the other side near the end.

With a non-existent attack, out-fought midfield and an over-run defence my man of the match has to be Ian Walker who was the player that kept it from becoming a hammering. Whether the shots were straight at him or due to good positioning he is the only one who can come away with any pride. There were questions over his performance against 'Boro which I cannot comment on as I did not see it, but today "the boy done good".

As usual the away support was in good voice and not giving Armstrong stick. After the second goal some 'Graham out' chants floated out. I do not travel to many away games and this was the first time I had seen such a negative performance which compared to the home games is unbelievable. Liverpool last lost in the league at WHL and compared to that game they had stepped up a gear and we had stopped dead. With nothing to play for I would like to see more adventure but I suppose GG would have a heart attack if told that.

Ray

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