Football News: Liverpool v Spurs - A Belated Liverpool Perspective

 

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Liverpool v Spurs - A Belated Liverpool Perspective
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Liverpool v Spurs


This was an insane game with so much happening it is difficult to review! It is just a shame that the incompetence of the officials have overshadowed a game that should have been remembered for the right reasons. Is it a case for VAR being introduced into the Premier League or was it just more proof that incompetent officials will just make more mess when they have VAR to play with too?

Anyway, to the game itself, and it was a good start for LFC, pressing and harrying from the kick off to force an error from Dier, which Salah latched onto and open the scoring. The high press continued to force error and create openings throughout the first half, but Liverpool failed to take advantage of them and so went in at half time with just a 1-0 lead, instead of a much more comfortable margin.

For some reason the press vanished at half time and was replaced by sitting deep and looking to counter from there with balls over the top. Not sure why that was the change decided on. I know Klopp has been caught out a few times by a game Liverpool dominated in the first half with a press only for the opponent to change things and get back into the game, but dropping deep and looking to hold on is not the answer.



The ball was continually just given away by Liverpool as Spurs looked to dominate possession and stretch the play constantly. They did lack invention, but they continued to be patient and look to work openings, rather than panic. With so much of the ball it was only a matter of time before they created something, it is a dangerous game to play and it came back to bite Liverpool on the backside.

As for the incidents, the Wanyama goal was poor all round, the main issue being the reluctance of Karius to take a simple catch under no pressure and choosing to punch it. That was a mistake, compounded by no one closing Wanyama down and allowing him to smash it into the top corner. Great strike but it should never have been able to reach him in the first place.

The penalties are just maddening. The first should have been offside, the moment it is played in Kane is offside, anything else is irrelevant, no matter how they try to fudge it cover up for the incompetence of the officials. We are always told that they need to be sure to give a penalty, but both were caught clearly not knowing whether Lovren (or Loovren for that matter) had touched the ball but gave a penalty anyway. It does not matter if they claim that some magical new interpretation made it the right decision or not, the fact they did not know meant it was the wrong call for them to make at the time.

The fact that Kane went down far too easily, making sure to exaggerate the contact, is sickening, but understandable from a player's point of view. We have seen time and time again that a player tries to stay on his feet and the incompetent buffoons employed by the PGMOL fail to give them the penalty they rightfully should have. Though, judging by the McTominay incident at the weekend, even when a player is smashed across the penalty box they are so incompetent they will still not give a penalty sometimes!

The second penalty was even worse, from a Liverpool point of view, as Lamela was clearly offside and his fall was so embarrassingly over-exaggerated. Sometimes officials should understand that it is still, just about, a contact sport and that not every piece of contact is actually a foul. Though, in this case, taking the swan dive out of it, van Dijk kicked his leg so it was a foul. Barely. The worry is that the linesman overruled the referee, who saw it as a dive and was much closer. If the ref was so unsure of his decision why was he not immediately asking the linesman, rather than waiting until the linesman called him back?

It has taken the focus away from the game and once again put the officials in the limelight where they seem to think they should be. For some reason they now seem to think they are there to be seen making decisions, when a good referee goes unnoticed.



Klopp - first half he got spot on but the second was all wrong. The press had them in all sorts of trouble, so everything should have been done to maintain it, including subs. Instead he looked to hold onto the win, handing the initiative to Spurs. It might well have worked but it is still not pretty or enjoyable to watch. The subs were particularly poor and were more of a hindrance than a help.


Karius - I am unable to look past the punch when I look at his performance. It was such an easy, unchallenged, ball to catch, why punch? I understand why keepers punch sometimes, but that ball was floated in and was easy to take. Yes his team-mates should have done more to put pressure on Wanyama afterwards, but the simple catch would have got control of the ball, something LFC had precious little of in that second half.


Alexander-Arnold - a surprising choice, as Gomez is better defensively. He looked confused all through the second half, with no real idea of where he should position himself and it allowed Spurs a lot of space to attack through.


Lovren - defended well until the panicked attempt at a clearance which went through to Kane to win the first penalty. It was one error in an otherwise good performance which saw him almost entirely shut Kane out of the game, which takes a lot of doing.


van Dijk - I really do not know what to say about him, he still does not seem right, positionally and is trying too hard to dominate aerially when there are times he needs to just accept he is not going to win a header. Then there was the mistake right at the end which ended in a penalty to Spurs. He dithered when he should have just cleared the ball straight away, then made a tentative half-kick before trying to pull out. However it is early days and he was part of a defence that conceded very few chances to a strong Spurs side.


Robertson - I know I will get slated for this but he was ducking awful. His crossing was abysmal and he was defensively all over the place. Playing alongside van Dijk is not helping him as it means two players still learning their role are meant to work together and they do not yet have an understanding. Hopefully that will come over time, but the crossing, that is a real worry when it is supposed to be his best quality.


Can - it is always the same with Can, he never follows up a good performance with another one or improves on it. His inconsistency should be something he sorts out quickly if he wants to be the player he should be. Once again though, Can was even inconsistent during the game, following up some good play with mistakes. Some hard graft with a lazy moment. One second he is asleep, the next he is chasing 30 yards to put pressure on the ball. Can has to work on that concentration level as it is letting him down badly.


Henderson - he may not be the best player in the world, but his importance to Liverpool's performances can not be undermined due to that. Henderson makes the team tick. Every team needs a player like him, one that drives them on, does the dirty work most people fail to see and are more worried about winning than looking good. Once he was taken off Liverpool got worse. Significantly worse.


Milner - Milner is Milner. He runs around, throws himself into silly tackles rather than chasing back, pops up all over the pitch and is frustratingly as much in the way of moves as he is a help to them. Brilliant attitude to the game and you can never deny his desire, but he is not good enough to be a starter.


Salah - Salah is just outstanding. He offers so much to the team that no one else in the Premier League can match. His pace is insane, but he can also produce that moment of magic we saw for the second goal. He is incredible.


Mane - a little better from Mane. It seems to be coming back to him now, just in time for the final push. He was unlucky to come off, but I would prefer him to be protected after all his niggling injury problems.


Firmino - in the first half he was leading the press and put all sorts of pressure on Spurs, chasing back to cover gaps at the back, as well as pressing up front. In the second half he stopped pressing so high, clearly under instruction, and was nothing like as effective.


Subs:

Wijnaldum - came on for Henderson in the 65th minute. Unfortunately, as usual, he was anonymous for most of his time on the pitch and there was a noticeable step down in the whole team's performance due to Henderson going off.

Oxlade-Chamberlain - also came on in the 65rd minute, replacing Mane. Was more like the Arsenal Oxlade-Chamberlain than what we had witnessed so far of him at Liverpool. Not a good game for him.

Matip - replaced Milner in the 78th minute as Klopp decided to change the system. It did not work at all, none of the players got themselves sorted and understood their role in the new system. He is completely the wrong player to bring on to organise a change like that, he is simply not vocal enough to boss the team around and Henderson, who could have got them sorted, had already gone off. All it ended up doing was creating a mess of players who were sort of in a position but not sure if it was the right one or not. It created gaps all over the pitch, particularly outside Matip and Alexander-Arnold, who Matip did not push out wide to close down the Spurs' attacks on that flank.

Written by Tris Burke



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