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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Liverpool v Spurs, 09.04.2000

Last season's game - Liverpool 3 Spurs 2, 01.05.99
This season's home game - Spurs 1 Liverpool 0, 03.01.2000
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This preview was written by Brian Judson


Full Record of Spurs -v- Liverpool

Prem          Pl   W   D   L  For-Ag  Pts
Home           8   3   3   2   12-12  12
Away           7   1   2   4    8-17   5
=========================================
Total (Prem)  15   4   5   6   20-29  17
=========================================
Football Lge
Home (Div 1)  49  24  10  15   73-58  62
Away (Div 1)  49   4  14  31   38-95  24
=========================================
Total (Div 1) 98  28  24  46  111-153 86
=========================================
Total (Prem)  15   4   5   6   20-29  17
Total (Div 1) 98  28  24  46  111-153 86
=========================================
Grand Total  113  32  29  52  131-182 103
=========================================

In a week when two Leeds United supporters were killed by a mob of Galatasaray 'supporters', Tottenham travel to play the team formerly managed by the late Bill Shankly, who once famously suggested that football was more important than life or death. I wonder whether the families of the two men who died in Turkey would agree with that?

It is said that it is often better to travel than to arrive. I am sure this has been the experience of Tottenham fans over the years as they've travelled north for this particular fixture. It was not so long ago the media were reminding us that Spurs had not won at Anfield since the year the Titanic was sunk. That win had been in March 1912. 73 years later (to the day), Garth Crooks scored the goal that ended that particularly dismal run and Spurs have won more frequently since then. There will be few people who will not have rejoiced about the last occasion when we won up there as we beat Liverpool 3-1 on the way to winning the Worthington's Football League Cup last season.

There will be few making the journey tomorrow who will be feeling optimistic about the outcome of tomorrow's match. Liverpool have been showing signs of achieving the consistency that once used to be the trademark of Liverpool teams. In Sami Hyypia they seem to have filled the gap left when Alan Hansen was forced to retire through injury. Sander Westerveld has also filled a gaping void that has existed since the departure of Bruce Grobbelaar to Southampton. Gerard Houllier has mixed a cocktail of foreign imports with local youngsters and seems to be achieving a delicate balance. Tottenham players would do well to note how the Liverpool team works for each other, particularly off the ball. Once, Patrik Berger used to be an expensive luxury and had to learn through a spell in the reserves there was no place for spectators in the Liverpool team. Nowadays, Berger can be seen popping up on the Liverpool goal line for corner kicks just as often as he can be seen scoring spectacular goals. I would not bet against Liverpool next season as I feel sure that, given a trouble-free season from injury and that vital commodity called luck, they will win some silverware.

Tottenham's problems and inconsistencies are so well known that we could doubtlessly write a book to match the famous R L Stevenson classic 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde'. We often see both facets of Tottenham in their matches. At times they can play sophisticated football that evokes memories of Arthur Rowe's great team of 1950-51 when the dictum was 'Make it simple, make it quick'. But there are also occasions, as on Monday night, when we simply fall apart when something goes wrong for us. We all have our ideas what is wrong with Tottenham. There are those who suspect a conspiracy in the heart of the Tottenham boardroom. There are those who suspect the majority of the team would be lucky to get a game in a scratch park kick-about. There are those who believe the heart of the problem is a lack of leadership on the field. And there are those who simply object to the management because of the accident of their previous employers happening to be the anonymous little village club from the other end of the Seven Sisters Road.

People forget there is another ingredient which is called luck. Yes, I know teams make their own luck sometimes and, yes, I know Tottenham's teams have rarely subscribed to the work ethic. But at times it does seem to me that we seem to have upset someone upstairs since so many games seem to come down to a lack of that little bit of luck.

In the past, Tottenham and Liverpool have played many classic games. I remember the first time we played them after Liverpool had won promotion as Second Division Champions at the end of season 1961-62. We crashed 5-2 at Anfield on Good Friday 1963 yet thrashed Liverpool 7-2 on the Easter Monday. It wasn't that Liverpool played badly but that Tottenham hit a purple streak. Jimmy Greaves scored 4 of the goals, including a penalty that afternoon. Cliff Jones grabbed two and Frank Saul scored the other goal.

Our heaviest defeat at Anfield occurred on September 2nd 1978. We had just been promoted from Division Two as the third placed club and were struggling to find our feet in the First Division. Liverpool, of course, were the reigning European Cup holders as well as having been the Football League runners-up to Nottingham Forest. They thrashed us 7-0 that day and went on to win the Football League championship. The best goal of the seven came from Terry McDermott, who was some distance from the penalty area yet volleyed the ball past a thoroughly bemused Barry Daines to end the rout. That was Neil McNab's last game in a Tottenham shirt as he was dropped for the following game and stormed out of the club.

My sole visit to Anfield was in January 1985 when we lost a 4th round FA Cup tie. The journey north had been horrendous as our coach was hit by a blizzard of snow in the Stoke-on-Trent area. Everywhere was white with snow and I think we were all expecting to arrive at Anfield to be told the game was off. It went ahead and we only lost 1-0. Our boys played well but didn't get the breaks they deserved. Two months later, our boys won up there for the first time since March 1912 when Garth Crooks scored the only goal of the game. It must have been a wonderful experience for those of you who were there that day.

And tomorrow? I wish, I really wish, I could be optimistic about the outcome. But the fact remains that we have absolutely nothing to play for whereas Liverpool will want to confirm a Champions League placing with a view to recovering what they consider to be their rightful property. The most optimistic I can feel about tomorrow's match is that we will do well to lose 4-0. And we will be lucky to get NIL! At my most pessimistic, I can see that 7-0 scoreline being surpassed. I just cannot feel any optimism for tomorrow's match after last Monday ......

Cheers, Brian

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