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Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur A Liverpool Perspective
You pretty much knew what the game would be before kick off. Jose would park the bus and look to route 1 football to try and snatch a result. True to form, that is exactly what happened. The only real question was whether Liverpool would score enough to get a result, as it was sure that at some point Spurs would be able to exploit the makeshift defence.
In the end the chances Spurs did get were down to individual errors as this was about as one-sided as a match between the top 2 in the Premier League ever gets. Their midfield was camped on top of the defence and offered little beyond bodies and fouls, which somehow never got punished. I have to say Anthony Taylor’s refereeing is shockingly bad, he missed so much and it took 3 or 4 blatant shirt pulls before Hojbjerg (the most overrated hatchetman of the year?) got booked.
Spurs were completely outplayed and I can fully understand why Klopp thought Mourinho was cracking a joke when he said that the better team lost. The far better team won and the worry is that once again Liverpool were profligate in front of goal, missing far too many chances to put the game to bed in the first half. These constant missed chances are going to cost Liverpool if it is not sorted out.
Particularly impressive was the press, which kept Spurs penned in for long periods of the game and the speed the ball was moved made it difficult for Jose’s bus to cover the ground effectively. Spurs came out a bit more on the front foot for the second half, but seemed to tire and draw back into their shell as the half wore on.
It is what it is when Jose Mourinho is in charge, the big games see the low block and long ball, Wimbledon 1980s-style football. It is not pretty, but it can be pretty effective. However, when it is not then it becomes a horrible watch for the fans that pay Mourinho’s obscene wage. One thing it does do is answer the question of whether or not Samuele Allardici would win everything if he managed a big club, as there is little difference between what Mourinho does and what the Scam man does.
You would think with the quality of squad Jose has at his disposal, especially up against a makeshift defence like they faced last night, he could come up with something more than he does. However Mourinho has no imagination for all the talk of his great tactical acumen, he only seems to actually have one tactic. When it is not working, there seems no idea of what to do to change things. It just feels wrong for a manager of Spurs to play like this.
I always grew up on stories of Spurs being exciting, great to watch and had a history of success doing so. Glory, glory Tottenham Hotspur and all that. Now it is like watching a lower league team facing a Premier League club in the cup. It just does not feel at all right to me. How long will Spurs fans put up with it? His antics and whines can only disguise the dire football on offer for so long. The only thing that will keep the fans on side is winning and history has shown us that Jose’s success is always short-term.
I was not around to see Bill Nicholson’s side, but I am quite sure that he would be shocked to see a Spurs team that time wastes almost from kick off, looking to hold onto a draw at all costs. Would he consider it worth it so long as the approach brings trophies?
Klopp – seems to have Mourinho’s number and the beating of him. The mind games Jose tried before the game were wasted on Klopp and he did a number on the Portugese manager. There is a reason why Klopp has been able to keep getting results long term with the teams he manages and Mourinho fails to do so. It is not just that Klopp is a far better coach, producing better football, he is a better man-manager too.
Alisson – despite a mistake giving the ball away in a dangerous area once Alisson was overally very good. The particularly impressive thing with Alisson is that he learns from his mistakes and makes sure not to repeat them over and over.
Alexander-Arnold – looked match ready at last. Showed some excellent pace to cover at one point when Williams got himself caught and was up and down, mainly up, the flank like the Trent of last season. I have to mention that beautiful cross-field ball to Robertson with his left foot and the nut-meg on Son, both were things of beauty.
Williams – a mixed night for Williams. Played a delicious through ball to Salah, first-time as he ran out to intercept a loose pass from Spurs, sometimes he defended well, but there were quite a few times he was caught out badly. In particular on their goal. They targeted him and got a fair bit of joy as he does have a tendency to try and be aggressive, winning the ball high, and not getting near it. There is still a lot for him to learn about when to drop but it was his Premier League debut, so you have to expect mistakes from a teenager playing against the quality of Kane and Son. His lack of pace is a real worry though, one mistake and he is out of the game.
Fabinho – not his best night, though at times Fabinho is immense, particularly in one-on-one situations, his inexperience as a centre-back showed and he failed to give Williams enough cover on the Spurs long balls.
Robertson – was again superb, linking up brilliantly with Mane and causing havoc down the flank. He has been insanely good this season. It is a pleasure to watch him, though I do always come out of the game feeling like I have run a marathon just watching him get up and down again and again.
Jones – Jones is fast becoming a star in this team. Some of his touches and footwork is sensational. His improvement has been incredible, the only thing he lacked in this match was finishing. Which is odd as he has shown he can score goals already. If Jones had pace he would be almost the complete player. He is providing the creativity and skill running with the ball that Keita was brought in to produce and his movement was exceptional last night. What I particularly like about Jones is that he never avoids his defensive duties. He does the hard running and thankless work as well as the fancy stuff. I have no idea how Klopp can get Thiago into this team when he is fit, brilliant as Thiago is, right now this midfield is working too well to break up. Trent could soon have competition for the best Scouser in the team.
Wijnaldum – he is having his best season as a Liverpool player and this was possibly his best performance of the season. He will have his pick of clubs to join for next season the way he is going.
Henderson – an excellent captain’s performance again. He was the one that most often covered behind Williams when he came out to attack the ball. Unfortunately it was the times Williams won it he seemed to be there just in case. The times Williams was unable to get to it were when Henderson was unable to get back on the cover. What a player he has grown into.
Mane – like Salah, Mane was fouled every time he got the ball but, despite that, he tormented Spurs. Desperately needs a goal though, it was clearly bothering him that he has not scored for a while. His overhead kick was nice but it led to Spurs breaking and scoring, as that is how his luck is going at the moment. Hopefully it will turn soon.
Firmino – it seems that Firmino is back to something like his best judging by this match. Not just his late winner, but his all-round game was excellent. I just want to see more of this Firmino for the rest of the season.
Salah – his goal may have taken a lucky deflection, but it was well deserved for his performance. Salah looked sharp going forward and really should have scored more. What most impressed me was his work tracking back and closing down Spurs’ attempts to break from setpiece situations. That often gets overlooked, the talk is so often about his selfishness, but a selfish player does not race back 40 yards to break up an attack because the defence is up for a corner.
Keita – have to give him a mention for hopping round on the sidelines waiting to come on for so long, only for the final whistle to blow before he did. I think that is his best position from what I have seen so far, cheerleader!
Written by Tris Burke December 17 2020 11:04:59