Dan Holland

A View From The Paddock – Liverpool 3-2 Spurs

Dan Holland looks back at a great win over an in-form Spurs side at Anfield on Sunday.

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Sunday was always going to be an eventful trip to Anfield as me and a fellow Liverpool fan were sharing a lift across the M62 with two Spurs fans, who would have bragging rights on the way home?

Now I’m not one to name and shame but on this occasion I feel it necessary. Nathan Usher was the driver on Sunday and picked me up a mere 50 minutes later than scheduled which meant upon arrival in Liverpool the pubs were packed so no beer was consumed. Naths promise to us on the way there was that he would make up as much of the 50 minutes as he could. However, getting over taken by a Nissan Note tells you that he didn’t achieve this!

Anyway we arrived in Liverpool had a quick walk round the ground before I took my seat. On the walk around we saw an unlikely ‘VIP’ arriving in the shape of Doug Ellis – if he’s scouting for Villa now it may explain their league position!!! Once in my seat, I wasn’t overly confident about the game I’ll be honest. The form Bale is in was a worry, Defoe’s speed in and around the box concerned me and the fact Spurs had a 4 man midfield against our 2 (although two were in wide areas) was also a concern. Luckily only the latter became apparent and BR remedied that.

Looking up at the director’s box, I saw another unexpected face, that of former Southampton manager Nigel Adkins. Is he still there in a scouting position or was he guest of LFC as a supporter of the Reds? Who knows!

Encouragingly the early moments of the game were fast and it was Liverpool that was dominating. The atmosphere also was far better than it had been in recent weeks, on the back of my recent article it would be nice to think I played a part in this but sadly I don’t think I quite have that kind of influence!

Coutinho again started very brightly with some great touches and passes, two exceptional ones with the outside of his right boot. This lad really looks to have a great future despite being in the embryonic stage of his Anfield career, to settle in so well so quickly is the trademark of a really special player and is already looking a bit of a bargain. Once the little Brazilian had played his part in another extremely well worked goal down our left hand side, his opposite number Kyle Walker had had enough.

Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool FC

A superb drag back and flick set Jose Enrique on his way; he in turn fed Luis Suarez who applied a sublime finish with the outside of his foot finding the smallest gap at the near post. One nil Liverpool, after being shown up by Coutinho, Walker used every trick in the book to keep the Brazilian out of the action and to a certain extent it worked. At every opportunity there was a pull of the shirt, a tap of the ankles and a push here and there. This effectively bullied Coutinho out of the game as on more than one occasion he looked at the bench in exasperation. He will learn to live with this I’m sure and he will get plenty more of it with performances like the ones he has already produced.

As the half wore on Spurs became more and dominant and the issue in the midfield area became very apparent. It’s not that Lucas or Stevie were having a bad game, quite the opposite in fact, it’s just that Dembele and Sigurdsson who were operating in the wide areas are essentially central midfielders and were tucking in at every breakdown. Downing and the afore mentioned Coutinho were both having exceptional games but couldn’t offer us the same protection. We were outnumbered in a critical area with Dembele being the stand out performer for Spurs. Luckily the back four on the whole had a very accomplished afternoon and limited Spurs chances to a Sigurdsson low drive which went past the post and two long range free kicks from Bale, one worried Brad Jones who was deputising for the injured Pepe Reina and one flew over the bar which led to a rather amusing chant from the Kop of “Your just a s**t Stewart Downing”.

As the first half was drawing to a conclusion two moments of controversy led to a Spurs equaliser. Firstly a superb blood and thunder challenge in the midfield left Bale in a crumpled heap, this to me looked like a perfectly won header by Gerrard, surely with the lack of strong challenges allowed now Tommy Smith and Graeme Souness to name but two wouldn’t have had a career!

As a result of the challenge Bale went off the field with a supposed bang to the head, when he returned to the field obviously unmarked in an attacking position he swung over a cross that Jan Vertonghen headed in unchallenged at the far post. The decision to allow Bale to return to the field in such an advantageous position led to Brendan Rogers grilling the 4th official. So the teams went in all square, which on balance was probably fair as we hadn’t really worked Lloris in the Spurs goal despite Suarez, Downing and Coutinho all impressing.

The second half started much the way the first finished with Spurs in the ascendancy, in fact the half was only 7 minutes old when a very soft free kick was awarded for, well I’m not sure what. Lucas was next to Bale whose reaction was theatrical to say the least. The resulting free kick was whipped into the box and eventually broke to Vertonghen who added his 2nd of the game to give Spurs the lead. Shortly after Sigurdsson could and probably should have increased Spurs lead which would surely have then been game over the Reds.

Joe Allen

Rodgers had seen enough and a little belatedly realised we needed more numbers in the midfield with Joe Allen replacing Coutinho. The little Welshman got off to a decent start for Liverpool but in recent months has been someway short of the player we expected. The return from injury of Lucas has limited his chances which also won’t have helped his form but his introduction at the weekend turned the game Liverpools way as he was very industrious, pressed very well and generally helped us regain control in the middle of the park.

Urged on by the crowd who like against Zenit responded to going a goal behind in a very positive way urging their team forward and the reds responded. Agger & Carragher were solid at the heart of the defence, Gerrard was slowly becoming a bigger influence, Sturridge had woken up, Suarez was being his usual self causing everyone in the Spurs rank concern and bemusement and Downing was giving Assou-Ekotto all kinds of problems and seems to get better week after week (which by the way BR has to take huge credit for with his man management skills).

In the 65th minute it was the former Aston Villa man who drew Liverpool level after a catalogue of errors from the Spurs defence. Kyle Walker played a wayward back pass to Hugo Lloris but despite it being wayward the French international got there but couldn’t connect with the ball, allowing Downing a clear run on goal before rifling a low shot through Vertonghens legs.

The next 15 minutes resembled more of a basketball game than football with both teams attacking in numbers, there were however very few real goalscoring chances with Sturridge having the best chance for Liverpool with a header into the side netting after another great run and cross from Downing.

In the 81st minute we were awarded a penalty after a foul on Luis Suarez after Defoe mis hit a clearance sending it back into the Spurs penalty area where an awkward challenge from Ekotto rightly resulted in a spot kick. That’s three penalties Suarez has won in close succession at the Kop end, testament I think to his improved behaviour on the field and staying on his feet more often than not.

Up stepped the skipper and brilliantly put the ball into Lloris’ bottom left hand corner. As Gerrard ran away celebrating he pointed to the corner where he put the ball (which I’ve never seen him do before) and after receiving congratulations from his team mates he ran down the touchline and made a bee line for the dug out where he high fived the goal keeping coach. My guess is he had told Gerrard where to put the ball, if true this again testament to the thorough preparation that Brendan and his team put in to each and every aspect of the game.

We managed to see out the remaining time and ran out 3-2 winners in an extremely entertaining game, this sees us rightfully back above the blue noses in the table and still with an outside chance of Champions League football. Man of the Match for me was Luis Suarez again but two exceptional performances from Stewart Dowing and Steven Gerrard. Fingers crossed for 6 points from the next two away games before we welcome back Rafa to Anfield where we will no doubt give him a better reception than the Chelsea fans.

Finally, needless to say I enjoyed the trip home more than my two ‘Spurs’ friends whose highlight of the day was either seeing the Premier Leagues best player score the opening goal or the KFC on the way home!!!

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Dan Holland

LFC Season Ticket holder (Paddock). Regular at Anfield for 16 years during which I've travelled abroad to follow the Redmen, been to Cup Finals and even presented a player of the year award to Jamie Carragher. I've also arranged several Charity Dinner events which has enabled me to meet many Liverpool legends including Joey Jones, Ian Callaghan, Tommy Smith, Jimmy Case and Neil Ruddock.
  • S-P

    Bale was caught on the head – you should be able to see it clearly on Liverpool TV, which will show the match again.
    Nice that you mentioned the fact that Spurs could and should have wrapped the game up, because Kyle Walker made an unbelievably bad decision that allowed Liverpool back in the game.
    Assou-Ekotto made a ridiculous challenge on Suarez, which made it easy for the ref to award the penalty, but Suarez dived, too. He was also luicky no to have been penalised on a couple of occasions.

    • http://www.thisisanfield.com This Is Anfield

      Pretty sure the contact with Bale was his shoulder!

      • S-P

        There was contact on his shoulder, yes. Pretty sure there was also contact on his head, too. In any case, it was the type of challenge I has seen yellow and even red carded plenty of times, and Bale was undoubtedly hurt.

    • j75j

      Lucas puts his hand on Bales shoulder for a split second but Bale put his hand to his eye ? Our commentator asks “What planet is that a free kick on?” What happened to Spurs after Downing’s goal? You had another half hour to re-exert your dominance but you didn’t! So Ekotto makes a ridiculous challenge in the penalty area but Suarez dived? Really? Make your mind up, ridiculous challengers in the penalty area usually lead to penalties without the need of a dive!

      • S-P

        Did I say Lucas?
        It is always easy to alter the flow of a game once another team has the initiative?
        Ekotto’s challenge was ridiculous in that it was looked clumsy and gave the referee an excuse to see Suarez going down and blow. Suarez dived in the sense that Ekotto’s challenge was high up and to the side, whereas Suarez ran on and then threw himself forward as though his legs had been chopped from under him (Ekotto’s feet were nowhere near his) – hence, he dived. it is possible for it to be a clumsy challenge but for Suarez to dive too. That was what I said – my mind ‘was’ made up, I don’t need to make ti up a second time, thank you.

        • j75j

          Did I say Lucas??? It was Lucas that gave the free kick away!Think you need to look at Ekotto’s reaction he knew straight away it was a penalty instead of looking to calling Suarez a diver!

          • S-P

            I think you need to look at Suarez’s legs and the way he throws himself over – has no relation whatsoever to the challenge.
            Okay…you team is just so much better than everyone else’s and will finish second next season :)

          • munyuktae

            Is it a clear penalty or not?
            How many times bale got yellow for simulation?
            be sportive and stop looking for excuses.

          • S-P

            How many times Bale has been given a yellow for simulation and how many times he deserved to be given a yellow for simulation are two very different things.
            No matter what you say about Bale, you will not be able to find any videos of him stamping on another players leg. To my knowledge, there are 3 extant of Suarez doing so. For one of them, he stamps, studs down, on the shin of an opposition player’s standing leg. He then throws himself over, and rolls about clutching his head even though the replay shows that he has not been touched anywhere remotely near his head. he then gets up rubbing his head and looking at the referee like he expects to see blood. It is absolutely ridiculous, and even mroe ridiculous is how Liverpool supporters can either see videos like that, or desperately avoid seeing them, and insist that Bale is a worse offender than Suarez. He is an exceptional footballer, and his movement for the first goal was exceptional – but he is also a bit nasty and he really does throw himself down (yes, anything over and above what Bale does).
            I’m not making excuses for anything. Spurs should have wrapped the game up at 2 – 1. Then made two stupid defensive errors. Liverpool won, well done. I’m still happy with the way things are going at WHL, and I still think Liverpool are further away from being challengers than many of their supporters seem to think. If you want to disagree with me, fine, only time will tell the truth of it, anyway, so there is no point in going backwards and forwards on it.
            But, Suarez threw himself down like his legs had been taken away when Ekotto’s rash challenge was nowhere near having that effect.

          • j75j

            4 more goals conceded tonight! 7 in two games!!!!! Stupid defensive errors?????!lol

          • S-P

            Yes, it was four goals conceded. It was also not our EPL defensive unit. I didn’t say that all the goals conceded at Anfield were stupid defensive errors – the first was a great goal by Suarez (pity such a great player has been caught on camera 5 (FIVE!) times, just since coming to England, stamping on opponents).

            So, other than two massively stupid defensive errors at Anfield and a makeshift defence with Brad Friedel in goal, while playing ridiculous tactics that didn’t suit Friedel at all, and a ludicrous attitude, why do you think Spurs defence is incredibly fragile?

  • Pete

    It was an entertaining game but simply Liverpool won because of two poor errors by Spurs, other than that at home they were totally outclassed and if any Liverpool fan really wants to face the truth it’s that you are so far away from Champions League it’s actually embarrassing, sorry to tell the truth but there it is…….

    • j75j

      Do class teams make the sort of defensive mistakes Spurs did twice in one game? Why didn’t Spurs come back at us and make it 3-2 then? Our first goal packed more class then the Spurs goals and other goals that have been scored in recent weeks, the fact that in the last 15 games we sit third in the form guide leading scorers only behind Spurs and Man U but some fans don’t want to see it or believe it that we are finally going in the right direction now.

      • Trotter Mart

        I was at the game and saw it slightly different to you….spurs were the better team for long spells and if they had taken a couple of chances in the second half they could have been out of sight of liverpool…that said, their defensive mistakes were punished well and Liverpool got three points in a very entertaining game…being a Bolton fan for my sins,and a guest of a red I enjoyed the game but liverpool are still way off champions league football on this showing….one swallow does not make a summer !

        • j75j

          I wrote why didn’t Spurs re-exert their dominance after Downing’s goal so in other words I was saying Spurs were the better team. I hope our swallows have arrived in the spring not the summer it will be to late by then! Teams of real class don’t make those sort of mistakes it should give other teams ideas how to exploit their weaknesses like Walker struggles with a more defensive minded player in front of him and Lloris likes to come off his line a bit to often and control the ball. Liverpool in the first half hour could of been 2 up ( Sturridge heavy touch when rounding Lloris) well before Spurs woke up.

        • j75j

          Another 4 goals conceded by Spurs! Looks like Sundays defeat has had the affect I was writing about!

      • Big Mal

        Fans desperately clinging to hope trot out this sort of nonsense. The only top side they have beaten is Tottenham without 4 key players after an mid week game and an enormous helping hand from 2 appalling defensive mistakes (the worst 2 I can remember Tottenham doing all season!). The fact is, Liverpool are miles behind the top 5 in financial clout and a fair way behind in quality on the pitch. Having sold Torres, Dalglish was given the opportunity to rebuild and bought appallingly (Saurez aside). Tottenham paid a total of £30m for Lloris, Dembele and Vertonghan (don’t believe the figures you read in the press) which was less than Modric. They have all been outstanding. Liverpool are now comparing themselves to Tottenham – a team they used to laugh at. Meanwhile they are getting further and further away from the Manchester clubs. I have always had a soft spot for Liverpool as they have class and do things in the right way, but it will need some fantastic work in the transfer market and a lot patience before they are challenging again, but I do think they have the coach to do it.

        • j75j

          Nonsense? Liverpool have been improving in the last 15 games the points on the table and the goals scored prove that now. Dalglish has gone! If Liverpool are so far behind in financial clout how come they are still in the top 10 of the Deloitte fiance table? Liverpool Football Club makes money without Champions League money but it all helps! Liverpool’s figures are constantly being distorted by the sacking of managers, back room staff and the scrapping off the stadium plans in the last couple of years. Reason why they have released last years financial figures early so they don’t affect the new Warrior shirt deal and other new partners. Liverpool own all the merchandise rights on shirt sales now where Adidas use to take a big cut of the profit off shirts!
          Spurs have just had a very good run of 12 matches undefeated but before that you were as inconsistent as the rest of the Premier League you have lost 7 games to our 8 already this season! Looking at Spurs transfer dealings you are a sell to buy club. April will define your season Everton, Chelsea and Man City get the results needed and you will fully deserve your top 4 finish!

          • Big Mal

            A loss of £40.5m and debts of £87m would worry the life out of me. Wages at 70% of turnover; players on long contracts on ridiculous money; a tightening of the belt and buying players on sensible contracts. How do Liverpool, massively in debt, challenge clubs with sugar daddies; Manchester United and well run clubs? Can they get higher than 6th with massive debts and not being able to pay big wages anymore? The 15 games since losing to Tottenham are 10 wins 2 draws and 3 defeats, but only a victory over an injury hit Tottenham after a mid week game against a decent side. There are also defeats to Zenit and Oldham. So reasonable improvement granted, but the next step – getting top players with wage restraints and massive debts – will prove very tough. Buying quality youngsters with potential is the way forward and Liverpool have the name to attract them. Interesting times. Next season they need to end above 2 of Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United. Very tough.

        • Ally

          Does your team do not have their football-related blog or you just bitter that you lost. Yes Spurs have a team packed with talent and they did control most of the game and of course did return to london with(out) three points!!! Case closed

        • Ally

          Yes Spurs are a champs league, now try to win and then come to talk here. We do not need you to pity Liverpool. whatever happens to Liverpool this season we still gonna support them next season and the one after unlike most fans who only talk when their team win. Case closed mate

  • Big Mal

    Interesting to see Rodgers reaction. I think that game actually told him how far behind Tottenham and the other top 4 clubs Liverpool are. After a game against Inter and without the spine of the team – Kaboul, Sandro and Adebayor plus the crucial Lennon, Tottenham dominated a lot of the game and were comfortable at 2-1 and looked like adding to that tally. Two ridiculous mistakes that were beyond explanation handed Liverpool the game. If there is 1 Liverpool fan who therefore believes that this demonstrates how they are progressing they are very deluded. Luckily for them, I don’t think Rodgers believes this and now knows the enormity of the task in hand. How many of Liverpool’s players are seriously top 4 quality? And beyond that how many are league winning quality?

    • PaulLittlejohns

      There was still work to do after the mistakes… There is clear progress. I for one am enjoying Liverpool games alot more now than in the last couple seasons – so however you look at it – there has to be progress. The football is good – and very enjoyable.

    • munyuktae

      If the world is full of bitter people like you, we haven’t even invented wheels..

  • Nick

    We won on the day, and it was a great result. To be honest, I think we played better at the Emirates and the Etihad a few weeks ago, when we threw those games away. Finally we’re getting a bit of luck going our way. We’ve gifted teams points with stupid defensive mistakes throughout the season, and on Sunday we benefited from a couple. And so Spurs had a midweek European game? Well, if they want to compete with the best, they’re going to have to learn to deal with that. Between 2004 and 2009, when we were regularly reaching the latter stages of the Champions League, we had to juggle the pack, and if Spurs squad is as good as everyone bangs on about, they should stop moaning and get on with it. Kaboul’s out, so you can bring in Dawson or Gallas, no Sandro, you have Parker. Deal with it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/hon.chow.39 Hon Chow

    To all the negative commentators on here, if you guys are all fans of the GAME, then you all should appreciate what a fine game of football that was being played on Sunday. Instead of saying how bad each other teams were, I am a Liverpool fan, and if we had lost, then I still would have been proud of our team and applaud an entertaining match.Did anyone notice that Bale was doing a Fergie with the ref as they were coming out if the tunnel for the second half, looks like he’ll be at man u next season, he’s all ready getting lessons from old whiskey nose.

    • munyuktae

      To a sickening degree I’m afraid, these people just spouting excuses.
      Yes spurs is a much better condition than liverpool right now, you have many great talents, but the win was not about talent, it is about mentality, the game looks grim when we were down 1-2 but we fight on and manage to make your players made mistakes, do you think that those mistakes will happen if we do not press on? If you do think so, then you have to admit that walker and defoe are idiots to make such mistakes in an ‘easy’ situation.