BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 17TH OCTOBER, 2015,
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0(0) LIVERPOOL 0(0)
Referee:- Craig Pawson
Assistants:- M. Salisbury & S. Ledger
Fourth official:- N. Swarbrick
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Dembele, Alli; Lamela (sub Townsend, 87), Eriksen, Chadli (sub N'Jie, 11); Kane
Subs not used:- Vorm; Trippier, Wimmer, Davies; Winks
Booked:- Lamela (foul on Moreno)
Liverpool (4-2-3-1):- Mignolet; Clyne, Skrtel, Sakho, Moreno; Lucas, Can; Milner (Capt.), Lallana (sub Allen, 81), Coutinho (sub Ibe, 87); Origi
Subs not used:- Bogdan; Toure, Randall; Teixeira; Sinclair
Booked:- Milner (foul on Rose), Lucas (foul on Kane)
Klopp's Kop army happy.
The build-up to this game has all been about Liverpool's new manager, Jurgen Klopp, and no doubt the track-suited German will feature prominently in the match report headlines, but this game was not all about one man. The game was about 26 men (both teams used only two substitutes), all of whom gave their utmost effort to the cause of their team.
Overall, the result probably is a fair one, and not only the Kop army will be happy, but all who played and watched should be happy with their performances, and the fare on display. Both sides had their chances. Liverpool started with very high energy, and had their best chance after only 9 minutes, when 20 year old Belgian striker Divock Origi headed a corner which was half saved up onto the bar. Spurs had more chances and caused more problems for Mignolet in the Liverpool goal, with early substitute Clinton N'Jie going close in the first half, and Harry Kane going close in each half.
Klopp had been impaired by a well publicised injury crisis, with young full back Joe Gomez, and striker Danny Ings possibly out for the season. Clearly, Daniel Sturridge is also not fit, and he didn't even make the bench. Former misfit full back Emre Can was drafted into the defensive midfield, beside Lucas Leiva, and won plenty of praise, hitting a decent shot or two as well.
Mauricio Pochettino chose Danny Rose at left back. Presumably, he was deemed fresher than Ben Davies, who has played two full Internationals for Wales. Mousa Dembele took over from the suspended Eric Dier, partnering Dele Alli. Dembele had an excellent game, and deserves a likely man of the match vote. He was full of his trademark twists and turns, but the ball stuck to his feet most of the time, and he made great contributions at each end of the pitch.
It was Dembele who won a header in the Liverpool half after three minutes, feeding the ball to Chadli who passed to the advancing Rose. Rose's cross was too deep.
Liverpool's high energy start was rewarded with pressure upon the Spurs defence and that early chance for Origi. Lallana had won corners left and right. Dele Alli struggled to clear his lines on a couple of occasions, and Jan Vertonghen had to make an important interception in his area. That Origi header was half-saved and pushed up onto the bar. With red shirts desperately seeking to put the ball in the net, Spurs managed to clear.
The red army had come equipped with a Klopp flag, and were very vocal throughout. Somewhat surprisingly, the home fans did not make too much noise today in what was really a quite exciting game. There were occasions when referee Craig Pawson upset them (and me!),and a couple of good chants, but more noise was warranted, in my opinion.
Nacer Chadli had to be replaced early by N'Jie, who took a while to settle into the rhythm of the game. Lallana had a shot blocked after Nathan Clyne's cross, before the referee settled for having "words" with Liverpool skipper James Milner, even after his second over-enthusiastic challenge on Danny Rose, who was subject to plenty of physical stick from Liverpool players.
The game turned a little scrappy mid-way through the first half, but Spurs had stemmed the early pressure, and began to exert pressure of their own.
After a poor clearance by Mignolet, having been put under pressure by Kane, N'Jie had a good shot blocked after the ball was returned from Spurs' left flank. After 27 minutes, Kane cut in from the left and had a chance to shoot himself, but chose to try and tee up N'Jie, positioned to his right. Mignolet got an excellent touch to N'Jie's goal-bound shot, conceding a corner.
Dembele and Eriksen offered excellent approach play through the middle, with Eriksen's final ball piercing the defence, but running to Mignolet's hands. More good work by Dembele led to Dele Alli feeding Eriksen, whose shot won a corner.
Liverpool won a corner at the other end, and Skrtel rose to head powerfully, but Spurs cleared well.
Milner finally saw yellow after another foul on Rose. Soon after that, Rose led a Spurs attack down the left. N'Jie passed inside to Eriksen, who made ground down the left channel. Kane hit a shot from that side, which Mignolet saved, and Alli's follow-up was also saved.
N'Jie got onto an Eriksen header in midfield, making room for a right footed shot which passed just over the bar. Lloris comfortably held a Coutinho shot. Just before half-time, both Kyle Walker and Erik Lamela won good tackles on the right touch line, exerting that extra piece of effort. This gave Dele Alli a chance to make ground down the right, moving towards goal, when his shot won Spurs another corner.
The action was less intense early in the second half. Kane was fouled out on the left, and Eriksen's long free kick ran over the defence to the keeper.
Subsequently, Mr Pawson irritated the home crowd greatly, when he gave nothing for Kane seemingly being pushed to the floor, but penalised Lamela for a less obvious offence. Dembele and Eriksen again combined 30 yards out, and with no shot available, Eriksen teed up Kyle Walker, who tried a long range shot, but Mignolet held the attempt.
Spurs have kept their fourth Premier League clean sheet today, and a lot of this is due to the solidity of Alderweireld and Vertonghen at the back. Both are also capable of sparking good moves, and Vertonghen did this with a lovely long ball to N'Jie, whose intended ball inside for Kane just failed.
After one of Danny Rose's errors, Origi made a bee-line for goal, only to be stopped by Mousa Dembele's excellent tackle, followed by a decent clearing pass. Soon after that, Vertonghen relieved some pressure upon Spurs, with a long ball well won by Kane, whose tried a shot which was firstly half-blocked, before Mignolet was able to pick up. Kane had another shot on goal after Eriksen's pass following another Spurs break from defence. This led to a corner, and another long distance effort by Walker, which passed over.
There was a spell when Spurs were being denied fouls left right and centre. One was on Eriksen. Another was on Danny Rose, who was left on the floor (not for the first time), but given no sympathy by the referee, who allowed Liverpool to advance and Origi's shot which required a competent save from Lloris.
After 83 minutes, Eriksen made a run inside from the left. I thought I spotted a handball, but the referee allowed him to continue. Eriksen passed back to the advancing Kane, and Harry's shot was very well saved at the expense of a corner.
Erik Lamela was replaced late in the game by Townsend, who didn't seem to be doing as good a job as Erik of tracking runners. Liverpool attacked from their left flank and had a man over when Can hit his shot wide of Lloris's right post.
There were an additional four minutes, and near the end of the game, Spurs had to endure tension when they conceded a free kick just outside the area on Liverpool's right. The kick was safely cleared, and Spurs survived a game they might have won. Liverpool might also have snatched a win, so that draw is fair. The point keeps Spurs above today's opponents, and moves them into seventh place, unbeaten in the league since Day One of the Premier League season.
Despite our absences (Son, Dier, Mason, Bentaleb), we also look in good shape for the two games ahead of us next week, in Brussels and Bournemouth.
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