My thanks go to Declan Mulcahy for this report.
Sunday 6 November 2022, 4:30pm
Tottenham Hotspur (0) 1 Liverpool (2) 2
Salah 11, 40
Tottenham Hotspur (5-3-2):
1 H Lloris (c); 12 Emerson Royal (2 M Doherty 68), 15 E Dier, 34 C Lenglet, 33 B Davies, 19 R Sessegnon (21 D Kulusevski 68); 30 R Bentancur, 38 Y Bissouma (27 Lucas Moura 88), 5 P-E Højbjerg; 10 H Kane, 14 I Perisic
Subs not used: 20 F Forster, 6 D Sánchez, 25 J Tanganga, 4 O Skipp, 29 P Sarr, 11 B Gil
Booked: Conte (71 throwing ball away)
Liverpool (4-1-2-1-2): Jurgen Klopp
1 Alisson Becker; 66 T Alexander-Arnold, 5 I Konaté, 4 V van Dijk (c), 26 A Robertson; 3 Fabinho; 19 H Elliott (14 J Henderson 74), 6 Thiago Alcántara; 9 R Firmino (17 C Jones 74); 27 D Núñez (2 J Gomes 87), 11 M Salah (15 A Oxlade-Chamberlain 90+2)
(Captain’s armband to Henderson when he came on as a substitute)
Subs not used: 62 C Kelleher, 21 K Tsimikas, 22 C Ramsay, 43 S Bajcetic, 28 F Carvalho
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Attendance 62,008
Referee: Andy Madley
Assistant Referees: Lee Betts, James Mainwaring
Fourth Official: David Coote
VAR: Darren England
Assistant VAR: Marc Perry.
Spurs lose again due to the same old problems
For at least the four last fixtures before today Spurs supporters have been watching the same horror film. During the first half of the movie the team lacks intensity, makes mistakes and concedes goals giving themselves a mountain to climb. The second half of the film has two variations. In the better one the mountain is scalable. The team plays well, scores the winning goal late in the game and everyone heaves a sigh of relief. The other version is less palatable. The effort is better than the first half, Spurs manage to score a goal but lose the game to everyone’s frustration because of goals conceded in the first half.
The question was which version of the film would be shown today?
Liverpool too having been experiencing an inconsistent season. Before the season began they were predicted to be one of the two teams challenging for the league championship along with Manchester City but it hasn’t turned out like that. They have had some good results being the only team to date to beat Manchester City in the Premier League and Napoli in the Champions League. They’ve scored nine against Bournemouth and seven against Rangers. However there have been some very bad results too. They were trounced in Naples, suffered a home defeat last week to out-of-form Leeds United who hadn’t won away all season and lost to Nottingham Forest who were at the bottom of the table at the time.
One factor Liverpool did have in their favour was recent form in this fixture. Spurs had won only one of the last 21 competitive fixtures between the teams.
Spurs made two changes from the midweek Champions League win in Marseille, Emerson Royal and Bissouma replaced Lucas Moura and the injured Heung-min Son with Perisic moving forward to partner Kane. Hugo Lloris made his 100th consecutive Premier League appearance.
Liverpool made three changes from the midweek starting XI against Napoli, with Darwin Nunez, Andy Robertson and Harvey Elliott coming in. Kostas Tsimikas and Curtis Jones dropped to the bench, while James Milner, who would have made his 600th Premier League appearance was absent due to concussion.
It was no surprise when Liverpool made the better start. Nunez operating on the left flank made three runs in the first six minutes putting considerable pressure on Emerson Royal and Dier.
The first goal came after ten minutes predictably down the left side. This time it was Robertson who initiated the move. He passed to Nunez further inside and he set up Salah in the centre of the box who scored with a shot towards the right post. This goal was quite similar to Bournemouth’s first goal last weekend scored by Kieffer Moore. In both situations the opposing player had the time and space to score without a Spurs player intervening.
Spurs first attack came soon afterwards. Kane crossed from the right and Perisic who was playing up front with him hit the post with a header. Then Sessegnon made a run towards the box. Alexander-Arnold did lean an arm on him. The Spurs players appealed for a penalty but referee Andy Madley who was refereeing his first top six fixture did not consider that a foul had taken place. Spurs only other effort of note in the first half came after about 27 minutes. Kane crossed from the right but Perisic was unable to connect with the ball.
Liverpool dominated for most of the first half. Their second goal came when Alisson launched a long ball from his box well into the Spurs half. Dier was poised to intercept it. However the ball bounced off Dier’s shoulder leaving Salah clear with only Lloris to beat which he duly did. Dier started the season very well and earned a recall to the England team. However in the last few weeks he has been twice responsible for opponents scoring after he made an elementary error the other one was in the home game with Eintracht Frankfurt.
Lloris then was a little casual trying to clear the ball from his box when it bounced off a Liverpool player but nothing came of it. (In the second half Alisson dawdled on the ball and Kane almost stole the ball from him too).
The final action of the half saw an Elliott effort bounce awkwardly but Lloris deflected it out for a corner. This was the first time since the Premier League began that Spurs had been 2-0 behind at half time in consecutive home matches.
Spurs started energetically after the break and dominated the first few minutes. They had two corners in quick succession and from the second Alisson made a good save from a well-directed header by Dier. Then Sessegnon set up Perisic who hit the woodwork again, this time the bar following Alisson’s intervention. Kane set up Sessegnon who shot wide.
It wasn’t all one-way traffic. Lloris saved efforts from Salah and Nunez.
Emerson Royal found himself in space on the right but his cross was poor and earned the displeasure of the crowd. Kane headed wide following a Perisic free kick.
Mid way through the half Conte finally made a couple of changes. Doherty replaced Emerson Royal who had an uncomfortable afternoon. To the joy of the crowd Kulusevski made his return after a lengthy injury replacing Sessegnon. He was presumably not considered fit enough to start the game.
He made an immediate impact taking the ball into the box but his shot was blocked by Van Dijk. A couple of minutes later he set up Kane who scored with a diagonal shot towards the left post.
Shortly after the goal the ball went out of play near Conte and he was booked for throwing the ball away. No players received yellow cards today.
Spurs had 20 minutes remaining but didn’t really mount a sustained attack. Lenglet headed over the bar from a corner on the left. Bentancur had the best opportunity with a header from which he could have scored but Allison made a good save. Close to the end Kane headed the ball towards Bentancur. If he could have connected with his head he would surely have scored but he couldn’t reach the ball.
Liverpool gained their first away win of the season on their third visit to the capital (Fulham: draw, Arsenal: lost). It was more down to Spurs poor performance in the first half than Liverpool having been particularly outstanding.
Spurs made an effective start to the league season over the first ten games. The last four have been very disappointing. At this point there is no reason to believe that the decline is terminal. There have been some mitigating factors. There have been injuries to key players particularly up front where Kulusevski, Richarlison and now Son have all suffered significant injuries. Romero a key defender has also struggled with fitness recently. They also lost an important member of the coaching staff with the untimely death of Gian Piero Ventrone.
The fairly unique structure of this season also offers hope. After next week’s round of games there will be a five week break while the World Cup takes place. Many of Spurs key players will be away. However Conte must gather the remaining players and drill them relentlessly to try and iron out some of the elementary errors which have been occurring. The poor first half performances have to be eliminated. The break offers a top-class manager the time and opportunity to correct some issues which have negatively affected recent performances. The progress to the last sixteen of the Champions League also offers motivation.
Based on the last few results the break cannot come quickly enough.
After the game Conte stated “It's difficult to explain the defeat. We deserved much more. But in the first half I was happy with the will, the desire. We put a lot of pressure on Liverpool and didn't know why we were 2-0 down. In the second half we played very well, created many chances. The 'keeper made good saves and we hit the post and crossbar.”
His comments appear to ignore the less than stellar first half performance including an unforced error leading to the second goal.
· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
· Read the preview for this game.
· All the Spurs Stats you could hope for here! THFC6061 Sports Stats
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