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Football News: How I saw the Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur game

Well despite that rather dramatic ending I feel relatively relaxed, this is how I saw the Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur game:

Klopp - didn't really get his tactics right to be honest we were over run for the entire 2nd half and just hanging on. I said to my friend, on about the 60th minute, that I would take a draw as it was just constant pressure. I stand by that but, obviously, you hope the draw would be in slightly different circumstances.

Karius - as usual the commentators crucified him for the punch out that lead to the Wanyama goal. I don't think it was a particularly bad punch and I think others were far more culpable. Overall I thought he did reasonably though has a couple of moments where he put his own players under completely unnecessary pressure with a ropey throw or kick - needs to read the game better and know when to play it out and when to hoof it.

TAA - thought he was bright in the first half, produced some really nice passes, some good crosses and even defended solidly. Was more restricted second half and did get caught when trying to burst forward - this was as much a fault of the midfield for not covering - but overall he did OK, was one of the better players over the 90 minutes.

Robertson - defensively decent, positionally OK and didn't do too much wrong. In possession he was far and away the worst player on the pitch - failed, at almost every opportunity, to find a team mate with either a pass or cross. Truly dire going forward and it really hampered our attempts to build anything resembling momentum. He has to improve his distribution as it is simply miles away from being good enough.

Lovren - I actually think he played well. He looks far more suited to partnering Van Dijk than Matip, he kept Spurs chances to a minimum despite an entire 2nd half of pressure and, though he did make a mistake for the first penalty, was very unlucky that it wasn't given as offside.

 


Van Dijk - a mixed game from the big center back. His aerial prescence is excellent and it really helps deal with attacks that we have struggled with before. However, he gets caught out not being in line defensively and this happened a number of times in this game. Aside from that he was OK and think him and Lovren are the way forward in terms of our centewr back pairing for this season. My personal opinion is that the second penalty was a joke and that he was very harshly adjudged to have fouled Lamela.

Henderson - thought he did well and added a balance and calmness to the midfield. Was also noticeable that he provided some cover to the defence which no other midfielder was really able to do. He's clearly not fully fit but how we need him to be if we're going to put more points on the board.

Milner - thought this was one of his better games, a lot of energy, good pressing in the first half (though not as coordinated 2nd) and generally decent range of passing and contribution in both halfs. Was surprised to see him subbed as Emre Can was poor (though to be honest the whole midfield suffered in the absence of Henderson) .

Emre Can - not a good game from the German international. He strolled through the first half and really contributed little to the first half performance (which was, in my opinion, good) . Second half, despite playing deeper, he offered no cover for the defence nor any sort of control or quality in possession and was, like most of the team, entrenched in his own half resorting to hoofing the ball if it came near him. Sadly he failed to hoof the ball the one time it really would of mattered as he fumbled it and Wanyama drilled in a beauty. Irrespective of that he was poor, he needs to do more.

Mane - I thought he looked lively first half, caused Sanchez (who was woeful) all sorts of problems, looked to get in behind and generally kept Spurs on their toes. Was also hacked from behind by Moussa Dembele - it was a blatant yellow card yet the ref did nothing, indicative of his entire performance which was shocking. Mane was more subdued second half but it was noticeable that as soon as he went off Spurs were able to push on even more, it basically freed up their entire right hand side to get forward at will and this was something that kept us pinned for much of that second half.

Salah - got himself another brace, first was a well taken goal from a mistake, the second a sublime piece of trickery and skill and should of been enough to win the game. For large parts of the second half he was isolated and chasing lost causes with Firmino as they were both isolated and being fed nothing balls from a deep, unenergetic midfield lacking in both ideas and quality. He was a very bright spark in what was, by an large, a poor display.

Firmino - I thought he was a lot more subdued than he has been this game. It may have been lack of service, it may have been lack of space, it may have been lack of cohesion between team mates, I don't know. It may have just been tiredness? But he was not the player we know though to his credit he never stopped chasing and harrying - if you're not playing well then putting in a shift is the very least you can do and Firmino did it.

 

Subs:

Wijinaldum - utterly woeful and I mean that. Did absolutely nothing in terms of attacking, in terms of retaining possession, in terms of passing, was a zero. Then in defence was equally inept - failed to track runners, failed to close down or apply pressure to Spurs rampant midfield, made it easy (along with his fellow midfielders) for Spurs to just bypass the midfield with ease - in short just a bad performance. It is not surprising though, he has been poor this entire season, difficult to see a future at the club for him on current form.

Oxlaide-Chamberlain - disappointing to say the least. Lots of running and chasing but really aimless and brainless and the sort of closing down that makes no sense in the context of the game - no one else (bar Firmino) was chasing down, all of the midfield was sitting horribly deep, there was no point chasing down there keeper, for example, as the game plan had clearly changed. I like players grafting but it needs to make sense and fit the tactical plan, Oxlaide's was aimless and, truth be told, he did little else except run around aimlessly. Much improvement required.

Matip - did more harm than good and we conceded within a minute of him coming on. I'm not saying that he was personally to blame because he wasn't but bringing on an extra defender with like 12 minutes to go, in a game where we have been up against it for the entire second half, sends out a bad message and disrupts the organisation of the current defensive unit. He also failed to really provide extra cover as Spurs had a lot of there better chances once he was on the pitch. All our substitutions were poor and had no positive impact on the game, Spurs did, and that made a difference.

Referees:

Well usually they don't hog the center stage but today was something a little different. The first penalty I am unclear about - is Kane offside? My understanding is, when the Spurs player passed the ball he was thus, when Lovren sliced it/ blundered it, he was offside. I may be wrong though and, ultimately, Kane missed it so it did not matter. The 2nd penalty I find it difficult to wrap my head around. There was contact, sure, but it is really really minimal. Add to that a number of other mitigating factors including:

- Lamela moved into Van Dijk
- Van Dijk actually pulls out of the clearance to avoid significant contact
- Lamela dived and made a meal out of absolutely nothing, I hope he gets banned (though I doubt he will)

I also hate this assertion that all pundits make which is 'well there's contact'. This is by far one of the most stupid and annoying tropes of punditry and one that makes no sense. For a start pundits complain about divers and cheats - and I agree they detract from the game - but next minute the pundits scream definite penalty when a player breathes on another, it makes no sense.

Secondly these are big, powerful athletes who should be able to withstand the equivalent force of a fart without hitting the deck. Lamela dived his way to the penalty but that is only half the story. The assistant, from a position that simply cannot offer a clear view of the incident, chooses to overall the referee and award the penalty. Now this happens rarely, even for stonewall incidents, but in one such as the one we saw today it makes little to no sense. Why that assistant had the compulsion to do what he did, a decision that was wrong in my opinion, I will never know.

Conclusion:

Despite my ire towards the officials the brutal truth is we deserved nothing out of that game. We shaded the first half and deservedly lead but were, for pretty much every minute of the 2nd half, second best and hanging on. What changed between the halfs I don't know exactly but I guess multiple factors like Henderson tiring, players not pressing, instructions to sit deeper, instructions to hold on. It was really disappointing to watch as I thought Spurs looked very vulnerable with Sanchez at the back. Instead we gave them an easy ride second half and practically beckoned them to attack.

Most worrying was the ease at which Spurs transitioned to attack and how easy it was to bypass the midfield - I lost count of the amount of times they played it forward and a line of Wijinaldum, Emre Can and Oxlaide-Chamberlain frantically chased back. All in all I'll take a draw, especially after that woeful second half, but the circumstances of the draw do leave a bitter taste. Onwards to the next game though, we need to really produce, we are not going to have much more leeway in terms of poor performances and make no mistake today was, overall, poor.

Written by Seano_ February 04 2018 21:53:53