|OPPONENTS||Liverpool at Wembley|
There is a lot of noise surrounding Liverpool these days, but the
fourth campaign under the management of Jurgen Klopp is one that
must produce silverware. Having got to, but ultimately failed
in the Champions League final last season, the pressure of
expectation has built even higher, with a huge amount of money spent
in trying to break into the top four.
There are key players in their side such as Mane, van Dijk, Allison and Firmino, who form the backbone of the team, but when they are still reliant on the services of James MiIner, perhaps Klopp has not provided cover in the right areas. van Dijk himself still has to justify the huge fee Liverpool paid for him and Mane is a player who has his days when he turns it on and days when he doesn't. The mainstay of any push Liverpool might make is Salah, without whose goals the club would not have made any impact last season. He is quick and quick-witted. Having yet to hit their stride, the same could be said of Spurs. Kane hasn't the speed of Salah, but he is better in awareness around goal and making a yard to get a shot on goal. Both are very good goal-scorers and the eyes of the crowd will be on both of them, but Firmino is a hard-working striker who has the habit of getting into the box and Mane's pace makes him a potent weapon. On Tottenham's side, they might be missing Dele, but Eriksen is hitting a rich vein of form, Son returns from his successful quest to avoid National Service and Lucas looks sharp too.There will also be an intriguing battle of the wing backs, with Trent-Arnold and Robertson on the Reds side, with Trippier and Davies in the Lilywhites corner. All like to get forward, but who are the better defenders ? And in the Merseysiders' defence Gomez showed that he has the ability to pass to the opposition in England's friendly and his captain Jordan Henderson didn't have the greatest game off the bench, but got fair rest, unlike Kane.
WIjnaldum works hard and Alisson looks like a decent keeper, who would have learned from unsuccessfully dribbling the ball out against Leicester City a couple of weeks back. The memory of the thrashing they took at Wembley last season has probably featured in their build-up to the game, but with Lovren missing, they are unlikely to make the same mistakes twice ... are they ?
With both sides heavily
involved in international duty over the last week and a bit, there
will be some tired limbs out there and I think that although
Liverpool look formidable on their day, Spurs might be able to do
enough to salvage a point from the match.
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 1 Liverpool 1|
|RESULTS HISTORY||Click here for results, match reports and facts on meetings with Liverpool|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Hugo Lloris misses the game with a thigh muscle injury, while Dele Alli's hamstring pull in England's game against Spain rules him out. Juan Foyth will return to training next week with Moussa Sissoko, but the returning Heung-Min Son may well be a boost for Spurs, although he has pl;ayed 6 matches in 28 days.
LIVERPOOL TEAM NEWS :
Three Brazilian internationals were flown home from the US in time to train ahead of the match and will play, but Dejan Lovren is out and Adam Lallana is not fit.
|Premier League||Kick off 12:30|
|Tottenham Hotspur 1 (0)||
Lamela 90+2m 20s
Wijnaldum 38m 30s
Firmino 53m 13s
|Crowd : 80,188||Weather : Sunny, warm|
|Referee : Michael Oliver (Northumberland)||Assistant Referees : Mr. Stuart Burt; Mr. Simon Bennett|
|Fourth Official : Kevin Friend|
|Liverpool kicked off and played towards the West Stand end in the first half.|
|Game time : - 90 + 5 minutes.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Liverpool :||kit|
Victor WANYAMA 83)
Mousa DEMBELE (11
Erik LAMELA 60
Harry KANE (c)
(32 Joel MATIP
|Manager : Mauricio Pochettino||Manager : Jurgen Klopp|
|Sponsor : AIA||Shirt sponsor : Standard Chartered|
|Kit Supplier : Nike||Kit Supplier : New Balance|
Mauricio Pochettino's words in pre-match interviews came back to haunt him, as Tottenham pout in another lacklustre performance and slipped to a successive 1-2 defeat, this time to Liverpool, but were unlucky. Unlucky not to be on the correct end of a refereeing decision for a change with almost the last kick of the match, Mane kicked Son's standing foot away in the box as he prepared to shoot and the referee saw fit to give a goal-kick. They were also unlucky that they met a less than deadly Liverpool side on a day when Spurs weren't up for it, in that the result could have been by a far wider.
As it was, two slapstick goals gave Liverpool the lead before substitute Erik Lamela pulled back a well-taken goal in the third of five added minutes. A little too much too mate, although Mane's trip (when he had been hitting the deck all match for no apparent reason) on Son almost handed Tottenham an entirely undeserved draw.
Pochettino had to make changes after the Watford defeat and Sanchez dropped out to make way for Dier's return and Harry Winks was restored to the team after a long spell out with an ankle injury, which he has to play through the pain with. Vorm retained his place in goal, with Lloris injured and following his drink drive conviction. Liverpool were at full strength, as Dejan Lovren wasn't playing.
The start of the match was almost a replay of last season's home game in reverse. The ball was in the Tottenham net within a minute and we were grateful to the linesman, who put his flag up for offside. Milner's ball across goal was touched in by Firmino, but Mane was in there and he was ruled offside, as he might have got the final touch. van Dijk then missed the target with a header from a corner and Vorm had to get behind a shot from an Alexander-Arnold free-kick. Liverpool had decided to go for blood early and Spurs were holding on in what looked like a repeat of last season's home game against Manchester City. Spurs launched an attack with a fine ball from Trippier over their back four that found Eriksen running into the box, but when he went down under challenge from Gomez, who fell into him, neither linesman (well placed) nor referee (behind play) showed the slightest of interest.
Spurs were getting into the game and were pushing forward. Alderweireld had a diving header from a free-kick go over the bar, but he was offside and that was really the best effort we had during this spell. With possession, Spurs were playing the ball around, but lacked intensity and options were often limited in who to pass to, because their wasn't the movement by the players in front of the ball to offer outlets. High balls up to Lucas and Kane were usually won by van Dijk, but that was playing to his strength. Quick passes on the turf might have caused him more problems.
Inconsistent refereeing showed its ugly head again, when Alexander-Arnold raised a foot to shoulder height and Danny Rose took one in the face; an offence that Lucas was booked for the other week, but this time, it was just a talking to for the young England right back. Vorm made a decent stop when Salah picked off a loose pass by Dier and ran 30 yards into the left of the Spurs box before letting go a left foot shot that the Spurs keeper threw his right hand up to push away and then catch it before Alderweireld did. Toby and Jan made a couple of crucial interventions as Liverpool broke into Tottenham's penalty area and at the other end, Spurs finally got a shot on target after 28 minutes, when Eriksen's swinging free-kick from the right of centre 20 yards out was saved by Allison to his right. A few minutes before that, Spurs had worked a move on the right that freed Christian in the box, but his pull back was cut out at the near post. We had corners and crosses, but few found a Spurs head or foot. Vorm had to make a save to his left as Mane seized on another loose pass , but could only hit a weak dribbler of a shot at goal.
While Spurs were not quite controlling the half, they did have a good share of the ball and the Liverpool threat has lessened after the early burst, but Eriksen's header back towards his own area out to our right wing called Toby into action to block a cross for a corner. It was swung in and Vorm tried to get over van Dijk, who was deliberately standing in front of him. It ended up with a punch that saw the ball skid off his knuckles and Dier headed away, but only just out of the six yard box and Wijnaldum was waiting to head it back at goal. Vorm recovered, but could not get to the ball and scoop it away before it had crossed the line and the referee pointed to his wrist to let everyone know that Hawkeye had awarded a goal. It was sloppy and Spurs should have been aware that the opposition would try to put pressure on the replacement keeper and in his desire to ensure van Dijk didn't get the header, the ball ended up coming to Dier too fast for him to do a lot with.
One down and just over five minutes to half-time, the Spurs camp must have been hoping to hear the whistle soon to get in and regroup. Wijnaldum got away down their right and shot the ball at goal, but it went across goal instead and the relief among the Tottenham support was palpable as no red shirt was lurking in the middle. Half-time contained a good interview with Ray Clemence pitch-side and Pat Jennings came out to present him with a "Clemence 70" shirt to mark his landmark birthday. At least it proved useful in taking our mind off the first half !
Tottenham kicked off the second half in bright sunshine, with Lucas stealing the ball from Joe Gomez and being denied by van Dijk just as he shaped to shoot. Within a minute, Liverpool went down the other end and hit the bar, with Robertson's left wing cross skewing off his boot and hitting the angle as it went over Vorm. Michel was in action soon after, when Liverpool broke on Spurs following yet another loose ball and Salah played the ball across to Mane, whose shot was kept out by the Spurs keeper with a good save. Lucas was then geeing the crowd up after streaking away from Gomez and racing into the box, before putting his shot just the wrong side of Allison's right hand post
With 54 minutes on the clock, Liverpool doubled their lead in a very messy way. A long ball down their left wing from Robertson put Sadio Mane away and his pull back to the near post was intercepted by Vertonghen, but the ball hit the post, bounced across goal, where Vorm couldn't grab it and Firmino was left alone on the line to put it into an empty net. An avoidable goal, but one that saw a number of critical points in the move where the danger could have been snuffed out.
Our set-pieces once more failed to deliver, with the ball failing to beat the first man too often and not even a white shirt at that point challenging. Lamela came on for the disappointing Dembele, who didn't have one of his best performances, with the Argentinean getting around van Dijk and putting in a good low cross cut out by the keeper, but a few minutes earlier corner to Liverpool saw van Dijk win a header almost unchallenged and Spurs were lucky it hit a body and crawled through to Vorm. Liverpool should have gone further ahead when Firmino was presented with the ball and sent Mane away, with Salah to his right and Keita left, choosing the latter, he put him in with a shooting chance ten yards from goal, but Vorm reacted well to turn the effort over the bar.
Sonny made a hero's return from his Asian Games Gold Medal exploits and both he and Lamela both perked things up for Spurs. Whether this was because Liverpool were tiring or we were worrying them with more direct runners with the ball, I don't know, but the visitors were finding it more problematical to deal with their surges.
Eric Dier took a ball smack in the face from Henderson at close range and needed the magic sponge, but Tottenham continued to concede possession and Milner released Salah, but he didn't get the better of Vorm, as the keeper stopped the effort by the Egyptian and he did the same to deny Mane, who played a one-two before getting his shot away. Dier took another hit to the head with the ball and went off shortly after, with Wanyama coming on and he continued the theme of losing the ball by getting his legs tangled in midfield. Salah tried an effort from the right side of the box, but a deflection made the ball pop up comfortably for Vorm.
With Son's introduction, it posed a threat down Liverpool's left and he played Lamela into the box and Erik drove a low shot across goal, just wide of the far post, with Lamela then lofting a cross to the far post from the right to Harry Kane. Although Harry got his neck muscles round the header, he couldn't do much more than aim for the far corner, where the ball had come from, allowing Allison to easily take the ball above his head. Mane had a clear chance when Salah put him in a good position, but he put the ball wide of the goal. The miss could have been costly, as Son held the ball up on the right before finding Lamela running into the box ahead of him, then pulling a cross across the box for Rose, whose shot from 12 yards was deflected wide for a corner. When Eriksen's corner went into the box, it cleared everyone and landed with Erik at the far post. He took a touch to control and drilled a low ball back that ended up missing everyone and it entered the net just inside the far post, with the keeper helpless. With a couple of minutes of added time left, it looked like the goal had come ten minutes too late for a concerted effort on the Liverpool goal, but Lamela took it very well and it got the Spurs part of the crowd (or what was left of it) excited.
The \reds were rattled and van Dijk clattered into Lamela as he looked to run on goal, but Trippier's delivery was headed away and when Spurs won a throw-in on our left wing, Milner, who had been clattering into players (because he couldn't keep up with them) and back-chatting the referee all afternoon then started to have a spat with Rose, who was trying to take the throw. Anyway, there was one last attack by Tottenham, as Lamela returned the favour to Son and put him in down the right inside the box. He tried a shot that went wide, but that was only because Keita had kicked his standing foot and it is a surprise that neither the referee or linesman saw it. But then it was late in the game and you can't expect them to be 100% with their decisions, can you ?
The game ended without a booking on either side, which was surprising by Keita's regular fouling and Milner's persistent fouling and dissent. It wasn't a dirty game, but Liverpool used every trick in the book to disrupt play when Spurs looked like settling into some sort of pattern. Not that it happened very often. The spell for about the first 30 minutes was the most we did with possession, but even then, there was little direct threat on the Liverpool goal. The hard pressing that the Reds put on was affecting our game, but we weren't on it. Needing to pass the ball quickly and needing movement off the ball, Spurs were not anywhere near how we often put that into effect.
A World Cup hangover ? New formation ? Team changes disrupting familiarity ? Excuses, as we were not good enough on the day and rode our luck - possibly the quota for a good few games really. It could have been eight or nine. For all Vorm's involvement in the goals (and others were equally culpable), he did make a few good saves to keep the score down.
Liverpool could probably do this to most teams when they hit form. They can get away with dropping below this standard against teams like Leicester and Brighton, but they have blistering pace and players who can turn games single-handed is needed. We don't at the moment and Harry Kane is suffering from a lack of supply, meaning he has to drop deep or wide to find space and the ball. Whenever he, Eriksen or Dembele got the ball, there were three red shirts around them. Not shifting the ball on sharply meant that we lost or gave away possession, which we don't normally do.
It is best to consign this game to history and learn from it. With Inter waiting on Tuesday, there is not a lot of time to turn things around and while the Italian outfit aren't quite what they used to be, it will be a test of character and mentality to get a result there.
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|What you thought|
|Other scores during this week :|
|Huddersfield Town||0||Crystal Palace||1||Saturday|
|Everton||1||West Ham United London||3||Sunday|
|Southampton||2||Brighton & Hove Albion||2||Saturday|
|League Table 2018-19|
|14||Brighton & Hove Albion||5||1||2||2||7||9||5||-2|
|16||West Ham United London||5||1||0||4||5||11||3||-6|
Position before match :
Position after match : 6th
Position after the weekend :
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