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The good, the bad and is the dream still alive? – Last word on Liverpool 1-1 Tottenham

Liverpool were held to a 1-1 draw by Tottenham at Anfield, leaving three Reds supporters solemnly trying to assess a frustrating night.

Jurgen Klopp‘s men missed an opportunity to put more pressure on Man City, dropping points at Anfield for the first time since last October.

Son Heung-min and Luis Diaz traded goals on Merseyside, as Liverpool failed to hit top gear after their Champions League excursions.

Here, This Is Anfield’s Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) is joined by Dave Hendrick (@EPLIndex) and Liam Togher (@liamtogher88) to discuss a bad result and the Reds’ title hopes.

 

The good…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 7, 2022: Liverpool's Luis Díaz celebrates after scoring the first equalising goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

DAVE: I thought there were quite a few good things about Liverpool’s performance but I’ll focus on two.

The intensity and desire to get back into the game after we went behind was really impressive. Klopp made the right changes, taking off Henderson and Robertson who were both having poor games, and went with a brave decision to play a front four.

We upped our level, seemed to get a second wind and had a good go at getting back into it.

The second good thing was Luis Diaz. What a player. What an incredible player. On and off the ball, he’s special. Always working, always moving, always making the right decisions.

When we needed someone to be a game-breaker, he stepped up. Yes, the shot took a deflection but the run, creation of space and willingness to take the shot was massive. He’s been incredible since he came to the club.

He’s the type of player who tries to make things happen every time he gets the ball. I described him before we signed him as a hybrid of the best bits of Sadio Mane and Luis Suarez and I think we’re seeing that.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 7, 2022: Liverpool's Luis Díaz celebrates after scoring the first equalising goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

LIAM: Disappointing as the 1-1 draw is, it would have felt much worse had the Reds relinquished the lead rather than coming from behind to claim a point.

Also, maybe it was the Champions League-esque kick-off time that helped, but Anfield was properly raucous, which certainly isn’t always the case in domestic fare.

Oh, and while it may get forgotten given the dropped points, the overall performance was actually quite decent, and definitely an improvement on Tuesday’s Jekyll-and-Hyde display in Villarreal.

HENRY: I agree that the performance was actually pretty good overall – I think it just looked like one game too far for Liverpool.

That usual zip to their attacking play was the one thing lacking, but it really is so hard to fault these players.

It was always the game I was most worried about, with Antonio Conte turning Tottenham into a good team with some world-class attacking players.

Diaz was brilliant, while Thiago produced some typical moments of brilliance.

Oh, and we’re top of the league, even though it doesn’t feel like it! We could have lost that game at the end and then it really would feel all over.

 

The bad…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 7, 2022: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah looks dejected during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

DAVE: There was a lot of bad. Lots of bad performances, lots of bad crosses, lots of bad decisions. We were far too predictable.

Spurs were happy to defend on the edge of their box and let us sling crosses in. The game was crying out for someone to drive at the teeth of the defence. Thiago did a few times and it created chaos, but he was playing deep with Fabinho.

It needed to happen from someone further forward but instead, we played to their strengths and didn’t try to pull that defence around nearly enough. We just let them defend in their block and we saw how that worked out.

There are a lot of people who will tell you that Salah and Mane were poor, and they were. But let’s take a big picture look at those two lads.

They have played over 60 games already this season. They went to Africa in the middle of the season and both went all the way to the final, playing massive minutes in high-pressure games. They’ve played an incredible amount of minutes for club and country.

Add the amount of flying both have had to do and you’ve got two very tired lads. And they do this for us season after season. They deserve some understanding when they have poor games because they’ve carried us for years with their big games performances and goals.

LIAM: The sense of frustration at full-time was inescapable and heightened the feeling of ‘what might have been’ had Van Dijk’s first-half header landed underneath the crossbar rather than smack bang against it.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 7, 2022: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold reacts during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Alas, that was one of the very few clear-cut chances we created for all the possession we had; it wasn’t one of those nights where we could lament a goalkeeping masterclass from the opposition or a litany of ‘how did that not go in’s.

Klopp’s substitutions must also come under scrutiny. Needing a goal late on, Divock Origi seemed tailor-made for this occasion rather than Naby Keita.

Also, what has happened to Diogo Jota? His half an hour on the pitch was as forgettable as a post-season 13 episode of The Simpsons and it was the latest subdued performance from our usually deadly number 20 at the worst possible time of the campaign.

HENRY: I agree with everything the lads have said here, with too many players short of their best, even though the overall team display was decent.

Trent was really frustrating, firing endless hopeful crosses into the box, and Salah looked like he was trying too hard to make things happen. See also: Mane.

I agree with Liam about Klopp’s subs not working – what was the point of bringing Keita on in the 87th minute when Origi was an option?

Surely that was made for the Belgian to be introduced – I would have brought him on instead of Jota, who has been really poor in recent weeks.

The two points dropped clearly sting, but frankly, we can’t just expect this Liverpool team to win every game they ever play.

Playing ‘One Kiss’ at full time was a very bad decision. Bizarre.

 

And is the dream still alive?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 7, 2022: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp waves to the supporters after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Anfield. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

DAVE: Yes. The situation is what it was. We needed City to drop points before and we still need City to drop points.

The fact that we need them to lose rather than draw is the only change, but they now have to play a West Ham team that needs the win to get Europa League, a Wolves team that has caused the top teams problems this season, and you just never know which Villa will turn up.

All we can do is win our last three games and keep the pressure on them. At the end of the day, we’re sitting top as I write this so how could it not still be alive?

This group of players have put together an incredible run since the turn of the year, and to be honest, if we’re going to end up disappointed in one of the four competitions, I’d rather it be the league where it was out of our hands before this run-in.

Win the last five games, we’ll be guaranteed to end with three trophies and then we’ll see what happens. If City take 10 or 12 points between now and the end of the season, then fair play to them, but isn’t there a chance they only take nine or less?

Remember, they’ve lost nine games this season across all competitions. They’re not unbeatable.

LIAM: Even if we had won I still wouldn’t have been confident of Man City dropping points in any of their four remaining matches, but now that we need them to lose one it definitely feels like one leg of the Q-word will fade to anti-climax.

The agonising part now is that, even if they suffer a one-goal defeat somewhere, they could still pip us on goal difference if both title challengers win the rest of their games.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 7, 2022: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In one way, I’d rather our battle peter out before the final day than go to the wire and see us miss out on the same metric by which City so dramatically won their breakthrough title 10 years ago – the only time a Premier League title was decided on goal difference.

It’s hard to see which of City’s remaining four opponents would even draw with them, never mind daring to beat them.

If anything, it feels as if Anfield icon Steven Gerrard and his resurgent Aston Villa side could administer the last rites to our title challenge on Tuesday night.

HENRY: I’d say it’s just about alive, but that result will have given City the boost they needed after their Champions League exit.

This was a wonderful chance to heap enormous pressure on them, but instead, they now have more wriggling room and I expect them to get the job done and win all four games.

As Dave says, the Premier League almost feels like a free hit because Liverpool have never been the favourites at any point – win every match and see what happens.

If they don’t win, that’s life! A treble would be a nice consolation.

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