Sunday 19th November 2000
|Just what do
you think will happen when we play Liverpool ? Well, last
season, Spurs were lucky to face the Scousers with most of their
attack missing. This time, with Owen just back and Fowler
recovered, we might not be so lucky. To add to that, they have
Ziege, Hamann and Babbel, the German trio who form a formidable
barrier to their box. Westerveld is not the safest keeper around
but the defence is pretty sound and that has been their downfall over
the last few years. Hyypia is also highly rated and has been one
of the Reds' best players for a while now. Despite the absence
of Diomede and Heggem, we might have to rely on Jamie Carragher again
for our goals as he has been on the scoresheet for Tottenham regularly
in the recent past.
Midfield has been sorted out now too. Berger may be out injured for while, but Murphy can do a job and Gerrard is the one England are pinning their hopes on for the future. Redknapp has had his injury nightmare and appears to be coming back, but probably not in time for this one. McAllister can also pass the ball around when called upon.
Heskey looks like Houllier has got the best out of him and he has actually started to look like someone who can finish a chance if it is presented to him. Not something that has ever happened before !! however, he is one player who will be missing from the front line, because of his sending off against Everton. Smicer still is in the shadows, proving he can perform if required in a sub's role. And just in case we thought that was it, Nicky Barmby is also hanging around to inflict more misery on his old team !!
Without a drastic turnaround in attacking fortune, I don't think that Tottenham will stand the test of playing a decent side, unless some of the players return from injury, especially Sol. This is where our season might start bearing a pear-resemblance !!
PREDICTION : - Tottenham 1 Liverpool 3
For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.
|Tottenham 2 Liverpool
1 Sunday 19th November 2000
The rain seems to suit Spurs. Wins over Manchester United and Liverpool at home last season in wet conditions were a good omen I was told before the game. When I walked in and saw Owen lining up alongside Fowler, my heart sank. What cheered me was the presence of Alton Thelwell and Ledley King in the Spurs side. There was no requirement for Big Ramon to appear as Heskey was suspended and they had no heavyweight to replace him. Therefore a back line of Carr, Young, Perry, Clemence and Thelwell took to the pitch. King played in front of them in midfield alongside Sherwood and Anderton, with Les and Sergei up front.
The match started in contrast to the last few, with Spurs being made to defend. Within the first ten minutes Liverpool had two good chances with Owen dragging one wide across Sullivan from the right hand side of the box, while Murphy failed to control a ball into him and finished weakly straight at the Spurs keeper. Smicer was soon in the book for his third late challenge on Carr and Fowler was lucky not to join him for the best dive seen since the Sydney Olympics. However, the visitors went ahead fortuitously when Murphy tried to bring a high ball down for himself and it ran sideways to Fowler who drilled it into an unguarded net. The mis-control had fooled the Spurs defence and Young was a little behind the Liverpool scorer to get a tackle in. It was their first direct shot on goal and Spurs had not being doing badly.
The formation changed soon after Liverpool had gone ahead though. Clem pushed up further into midfield and Thelwell covered the left back position. This change paid off when Rebrov chased a ball deep into the left hand corner of the pitch. He hassled Henchoz and got possession, then did a neat back heel to put Clemence in for a low cross that took out Westerveld and found Les arriving. He stuck it away like he used to do !! The goal seemed to do wonders for him and he played the next 20 minutes like he was 23 !! Spurs were playing the ball around very nicely, with King playing some astute passes. There was one interchange on the Red's right which saw Fowler crack a shot wide from a skidding cross, but it was a rangy ball from Luke Young that opened Liverpool up for a second time. Finding Clem running beyond the 'Pool defence, he measured a cross onto Sherwood's head for the second goal. It was a very good move, which saw Tottenham use the ball well and have players moving well off it. The traffic wasn't all one way though. Sullivan had to be on form to tip over a header from Hyypia and the Spurs defence did well to get in the way on a few occasions.
Half time came and the second half started well for Spurs, with the side still confident enough to knock the ball about and try to create chances. Not many came direct on the Liverpool goal, but they did keep the pressure on their defence. Owen did get through the middle once, but Sullivan dived out to prevent him equalising and apart from that it was a procession of long shots, mainly by the wayward (and begloved) Hamann and towards the end long balls up to the makeshift striker Hyypia. As for Tottenham, they didn't score again, but it wasn't for the want of trying. Carr came closest. One marauding run down the right saw him finish with a chip to the far post that was so accurate that it bounced back off it !! His other attempt was when he saw Westerveld off his line and tried to shoot over him from the half way line. His effort was just a little short of causing the Dutch keeper some problems.
Liverpool resorted to some low tactics when they realised they were going to lose. Owen showed his real face with some cynical challenges and Fowler was just as much responsible for the referee losing control in the last 10 minutes with a series of unaccountable decisions. He seemed to be allowing Liverpool to dictate the game to him. But still, Stephen Carr's exultant celebration at the end of the match showed how much it meant to him and the supporters also savoured the moment. A top performance and the best seen at home this season, I'd say.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - LUKE YOUNG
|When Luke Young approached Michael Owen in
the box during the second half, a penalty was written all over it.
what happened next surely should mean that Tottenham's defender has a
long career at the club, as he nicked the ball away from the England
striker without any contact on his person. It was an exquisite
tackle and in view of the way that Liverpool were missing Emile Heskey
(you could tell as they were throwing themselves all over the place when
they were anywhere near the box), it was at a crucial point in the game
with Spurs still leading 2-1. Not to be outdone, Ledley King
played a game of great composure and precision. His passing rarely
failed to find it's target and when in possession, he didn't panic and
stood up to some provocation from his opposite numbers.
The game itself started badly for Spurs, when they were on the back foot for a time at the beginning, but after going a goal down, they worked their way back into the match with good movement. It made a change from some of the matches seen , as Sherwood's goal, getting onto the end of Clemence's cross with a header, is possibly the first time he has made his trademark late run into the box this season. It was good to see Clem involved in both goals, much as he was responsible for the result of the Derby County game. He could do a valuable job for the club and I think the crowd now realise that.
The first goal also saw Les performing a move he was once famous for. Clemence's low cross was slid in as the ball cut out the goalkeeper and it was like rolling the clock back to see Ferdinand putting the ball into the onion bag. He said he only needed one goal to make him have a good run like Emile Heskey and he certainly seemed to be buoyed by the score. He started running at players and chesting the ball off to on-running Spurs colleagues. It was good to see and he played his part in the win. Rebrov was fairly quiet, but he threaded beautiful passes through the Liverpool defence and in the second half really got fired up. First time I had seen him so riled, but he was obviously still feeling the injury he has been suffering with so was replaced late on by Armstrong. Anderton was a link in all the play that was good and picked up his now regular yellow card for a tackle from behind on Fowler.
Thelwell was making his debut, but you would never have guessed it. He played with a coolness that belied his experience. He was caught out on a couple of occasions, which is only to be expected, but made up for it with some astute reading of the game that allowed him to pick off some off the passes meant for the Liverpool strikers. Perry was fairly solid and won all in the air that would be asked of him; seemingly freed of Vega's errors, he was more like his usual self. With Sherwood playing a bit freer and a bit further upfield than he has been, it was a better showing from the captain. In fact, the whole team seemed a lot more "together" than they have recently.
For Liverpool, it was an insipid performance. Having gone ahead you would have thought they would have taken the game on and tried to wrap it up, but their poor form in the capital went on. A bit of a nasty side despite all the good press Houllier gets for them. Owen and Fowler know what's what and what they can get away with. Their "forwards" tackles are calculated to look bad, so they can escape whereas a defender would get an instant yellow. Gerrard slams into tackles recklessly and Barmby used his forearm to great effect on Carr. The ex-Spurs man was welcomed with a chant of "Does Your Missus Know You're Here ?" which was about the only recognition he got as he turned in an anonymous showing. Carragher seemed like he was on something as he came on, aimed a studded kick at King, hammered Carr into the advertising hoardings and generally looked the prime candidate for a drugs test.
As for the referee, he produced some amazing decisions, most of which involved drop balls. When players got injured, he seemed to let play go on a little while then blow up and restart play with a drop ball. My understanding was that this meant that the ball was returned to the side who had possession when he whistled. However, the opposite happened when Mr. Halsey sorted out the injury. One incident, when Rebrov slid on and Murphy got injured and carried off, the official didn't give a free kick and Spurs were breaking (in a good position), but the drop ball had to be given to the Liverpool keeper !! It was around this time that he lost control of the match and started falling for Liverpool's falling. They seemed to be affected by the blustery conditions as they slipped and fell at every opportunity. Even GG got worked up and had to be restrained from attacking the referee's assistant at one stage.
This match was the first real test that Spurs have had to face and without the in-form Heskey, perhaps we were lucky to be up against two nippy forwards. Otherwise Vega would have played and that would have meant a completely different Spurs side that would have been fielded. This side was built to pass the ball and while there were spells when they were shown how to do it by Liverpool, they came through in the end and it is no doubt that they all played their part in the victory. With some tough games coming up, it will need more performances like this to keep Spurs in a position above the bottom half.
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