Looking Forward



Premier League

Saturday 26th October 2002

With Liverpool leading the Premier League and Tottenham third, it is like a throw-back to the old days.  But realistically, what chance have Spurs got in travelling to Anfield on Saturday ??

Well, it is never one of our happier hunting ground sin the first place, so that goes against us, but having won against Bolton, when we might have let a point or two slip, there is confidence in the side to give Liverpool a decent match.  The single goal defeat last season was as close a match as we have had there of late.

There is one thing that might work in Tottenham's favour, as was shown on Saturday.  They hit Bolton on the break very well towards the end and with the onus on the home side ot make the attacking running, Spurs might be able to cash in, if they can keep things tight at the back.

That might be difficult, with the likes of Owen, Heskey, Diouf and Baros available to the Reds, but with some of our defenders coming into form and Stephen Carr back on the right hand side, we are getting a formidable back line coming together.  Steffen Freund's return to the defensive anchor role in midfield also gives protection against the oncoming players.

The battle in midfield will be interesting, with the leaders having come home from a Champions League match in Moscow in midweek and could have Gerrard missing from their ranks.  Davies' industry will match up to that of Hamann, while Etherington will be the equivalent of Heskey (in a way) wide on the left.  With Redknapp keen to play against his former side and show them what he can do, the Spurs midfield might be more pro-active than previously and that could stymie the endeavours of the Reds engine room.

Robbie Keane has now established to any doubters that he can score goals as well as be an active member of the team, but his partnership with Teddy has become crucial to the side.  Teddy missed the target more often than not against the Trotters, but Robbie was on the mark once more, so perhaps he will continue to snap up chances, which Spurs are making more readily these days.

While Spurs have done well away from home and are trying to acquire some reward for their efforts on the road, this might show that there is still a little way to go for the team, as Liverpool are a bit ahead of us in their progress.  However, we will not be disgraced, in what should be an entertaining match, with a narrow win for the home side the most likely outcome ... 

PREDICTION : -  Liverpool  2   Tottenham  1  

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.



Liverpool  2  Tottenham  1   (Half-time score : 0- 0)
Saturday 26th October 2002
Venue : -  Anfield
Kick Off : -  15.00 p.m.
Weather : -  Bright, chilly
Crowd : -  44,084
Referee : -  M. Riley (Leeds)
Teams : -  Liverpool : -  Dudek; Riise, Hyypia, Carragher, Traore; Murphy, Diao, Gerrard (Smicer 67), Hamann; Owen, Diouf (Baros 57)
Unused Subs : - Kirkland, Babbel, Cheyrou

Tottenham : -  Keller; Carr, Bunjevcevic, Richards, Perry; Poyet (Acimovic 79), Redknapp (Etherington 90), Freund, Davies; Sheringham (Ferdinand 76), Keane
Unused Subs : - Hirschfeld, Gardner

Colours : -  Liverpool -  Red shirts, Red shorts, Red socks

Tottenham -  White shirts, Navy blue shorts, White socks with navy blue turnover.

Scorers : -  Liverpool -  Murphy 71, Owen (pen) 87

Tottenham -  Richards 82

Cards : -  Liverpool -  Diouf (foul) 32, Diao (foul) 43, Smicer (dissent) 72

Tottenham -  Redknapp (foul) 54, Carr (handball) 64, Richards (dissent) 88, Freund (dissent) 90

This was the big opportunity to change things at the top and show how close we had come to the teams who are ahead of us.  However, Liverpool, in their new Houllier mode style of play, hit Spurs on the break to grab all three points after Richards had dragged Spurs level.

Liverpool's way of playing can be breath-taking at times.  It can also be stultifyingly dull, with the onus on soaking up pressure and then springing forward to hit their opponents when unaware.  Fine, it gets results, but would you want to watch that every week ??And yes, I suppose it plays to the strengths of their players, but surely the team they have could play in a more agreeable manner.  They have done in the past, but what they demonstrate now is reminiscent of the Arsenal side of George Graham.  Successful, but banal.

Tottenham showed that there is enough talent in the squad to be able to have a good season, while trying to play good football.  There might not have been enough chances created today, but they had enough possession to deny Liverpool the luxury of taking points off us easily as they have done in the past at Anfield.

While Owen might have mugged up Richards in the opening exchanges, Robbie Keane caused the first panic with an 18 yard shot, which deflected off Gus Poyet, in for Etherington, and went over the bar.  From then on, Tottenham pushed on and Redknapp hit a fierce 25-yard free-kick that Dudek had to push away.   Then Stephen Carr hit an outrageous volley too high, when a corner was played to him at the back of the box.

Spurs were always aware of Owen's pace and he was twice denied by Freund and Keller, before he had a goal ruled out for shirt-pulling, which earned Diouf a booking.  As usual, referee Mike Riley produced some unique decisions to puzzle the crowd and the players.  For example, Redknapp's yellow card for a foul on Diao was harsh to say the least.  It wasn't the last questionable ruling that he made.

As half-time approached, Diao was booked for a foul on Keane, while Poyet got on the end of another corner from Jamie, but couldn't steer it on target and hit the ball wide.

Straight after the break, another Spurs shot went wide, with Bunjy shimmying past Riise, before striding on before getting his shot across Dudek, but also wide of the upright.  It was good to see the Yugoslav international taking the ball on like this, as it was the role that we all thought he was going to fill and perhaps now he has settled in, he will do so more often.

Chris Perry's return to form has been a bonus for Spurs and he produced a well timed tackle to stop Hamann advancing on goal.  Deano was doing well alongside him too, getting in tackles and blocks to protect Kasey Keller.

Just on the hour, Tottenham could have been ahead twice through Poyet.  His first effort was a shot on the spin that Dudek did well to push aside for a corner, but from that  dead ball, he met it with a header and only Dietmar Hamann's clearance on the line prevented the home side going behind.

Stephen Carr was yellow carded for deliberate handball, before Baros linked up with Owen to hit a shot just over Keller's crossbar.  Gerrard had been passed fit, but was not the influence he can be in Liverpool's engine room, so he was taken off and replaced by Smicer.  Some 'Pool fans I know don't have a lot of time for the Czech, but he seemed to enliven the home team and within a few minutes, Danny Murphy had stunned the noisy Spurs fans with a 20 yard curler into the top corner from a central position, leaving Keller helpless.  It looked like last season all over again, when Litmanen's goal from nowhere won it.

Luck certainly didn't seem to be on Tottenham's side, when Diao fouled for the umpteenth time and the ref produced the yellow card once more, but waved it at Smicer instead.  Being reduced to ten men at that stage could have opened the door for Spurs, but Hoddle changed things around, with Ferdinand coming on for Sheringham and Milo for Gus and with ten minutes remaining, they got an equaliser.

It was a good piece of skill by Acimovic on the left, that created space to put in a hanging cross and Richards, who started the move by finding Milo, headed powerfully from about five yards out.  But, then with everything looking good for a point, it all went pear shaped.

Owen picked up the ball near the centre circle and was allowed to run at the Tottenham defence.  Nutmegging Perry wide on the Tottenham right flank, he cut into the box, where Stephen Carr rashly flew into a tackle, bringing him down leaving the referee to point to the spot.  While he had missed a few, it is just our luck that today, Owen stuck the spot kick away.

With the game coming to an end, Richards and Freund got booked for dissent in a frustrating end to a decent performance.  Les' late try just cleared the bar, but the game petered out with Liverpool extending their lead at the top.

When Hoddle said Spurs would win more games than we lost if we carried on like this, he isn't wrong, but his comments that Liverpool ground out a win had hidden meaning in that they didn't play that well or flamboyantly, but still took the three points.  It ain't always going to be pretty, but with Tottenham you know they will have a go and provide some entertainment.


Stanford Rivers




We have now travelled to two grounds we historically do not do well at and come back the the usual nothing !!  But the nature of the defeats should give the team heart even if they have taken no points from the matches.  Even down to the denial of penalty claims for handball in the box, these games mirrored each other, but then we should know more than to expect penalties at these grounds.

Statistically, Tottenham had more chances on goal, but it is how those chances are taken.  not like Teddy's wild swing that went for a throw-in, but more like Murphy's goal from out of the blue (or should that be red) that stunned Tottenham initially.  They showed good fight in getting an equaliser, with Richards freeing Acimovic on the left and running on to meet his cross in the box.  There is not enough of that, with a reliance on the forwards to get all the goals, but if you look at most successful teams, their goals come from all over the pitch.  It was a neat bit of skill from Milenko and hopefully, a precursor of more to come.

But then, Carr dived in with Owen tight to the line and seemingly running into a dead end.  It was uncalled for and while Carr obviously thought he could get the ball, the spot-kick won the game for Liverpool in the end.  

Taking points off the top teams is going to be a bonus this season, but the top teams are Man U, Arsenal and Liverpool.  No-one else.  We should win points off Newcastle, Boro, Chelsea, Leeds and anyone else who is up there.  No, it's not an inalienable right, but there is nothing to fear from them and the way we are playing, we should be able to turn our chances into goals to secure those points.

Just losing by a penalty against both United and Liverpool shows there is not too much between us and them.  Within the next couple of weeks, we will know how much daylight there is between us and the Woolwich Wanderers.  But the performance all round was good.  Despite getting nutmegged, Perry had a good game and Deano was outstanding.  Bunjevcevic looked more at home than he has done before now and although he is not a ball winner, he does ping lovely passes forward and is now getting the confidence to step up himself and have a pop at goal.

Redknapp was keen to show himself in a good light, but sometimes got carried away and gave away fouls in his eagerness.  Davies did well without starring like he did last week, while Poyet almost won it twice with efforts that brought excellent stops from Dudek and Hamann, on the line.  Etherington was a bit disappointing when he came on at the death and Acimovic did enough to create a goal and show that he is settling down too.  Steffen Freund sailed very close to the wind today, with a number of incidents which could have earned him a  yellow card before the last minute one for dissent (admittedly for a bizarre decision by Riley).

Robbie Keane beavered away, without a great amount of supply, while Teddy had one of the days that he might rather forget.  Les got in amongst the Liverpool defence when he replaced Sheringham, but lacked the time to make a real impact.

So where does this leave Tottenham, apart from fifth in the table ?  This is the first of a run of tough games and they must be faced with fortitude and resilience.  The team are good enough to bring home the bacon from most of them, but those they don't win, they must put in a good showing.  Being the first tea in eight hours to score against Liverpool was a start, but they should have been alert enough to close down Murphy for the first goal and awake enough to not let Michael Owen run at the defence for the build up to the second.

There are always lessons to be learned.  Although only a penalty kick away from draws with Manchester United and Liverpool, it is still a way to go.  Let's hope we get there soon.

Stanley Park



Other scores this weekend :

Arsenal  1    Blackburn Rovers  2  
Birmingham City  0    Manchester City  2 
Bolton Wanderers  1    Sunderland  1   (Monday)
Chelsea  2    WBA  0 
Manchester United  1    Aston Villa  1
Middlesbrough  2    Leeds United  2
Newcastle United  2   Charlton Athletic  1
SCBC  4   Fulham  2   (Sunday)
West Ham United   0   Everton  1  (Sunday)


League Table
  P W D L F A Pts
1 Liverpool 11 8 3 0 22 9 27
2 Arsenal 11 7 2 2 26 13 23
3 Chelsea 11 5 4 2 20 12 19
4 Manchester United 11 5 4 2 14 8 19
5 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 11 6 1 4 17 16 19
6 Middlesbrough 11 5 3 3 15 8 18
7 Blackburn Rovers 11 5 3 3 18 13 18
8 Everton 11 5 2 4 14 15 17
9 Newcastle United 10 5 1 4 16 15 16
10 SCBC 11 4 4 3 11 10 16
11 Fulham 11 4 3 4 16 14 15
12 Leeds United 11 4 2 5 13 12 14
13 Birmingham City 11 3 3 5 11 14 12
14 Aston Villa 11 3 2 6 7 11 11
15 West Ham United 11 3 2 6 10 17 11
16 Manchester City 11 3 2 6 9 17 11
17 Charlton Athletic 10 3 1 6 9 15 10
18 WBA 10 3 1 6 8 18 10
19 Sunderland 11 2 3 6 5 15 9
20 Bolton Wanderers 10 2 2 6 10 18 8

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