Voronin (12), Torres (90)
Tottenham Hotspur 2
Keane (45, 47)
I approached this game with a fair degree of trepidation. Was I alone? How many other Liverpool fans, encouraged by our decent start, were now worried that more frustration was lurking behind the corner. Only one thing to do, spend the afternoon hidden “working” in the loft with rolls of insulation, the radio and a bottle of merlot!
Usually it has been our defence that has been our insulation against poor results, rock solid and mean, a joist supporting the entire team. However, yesterday they well and truly put their foot through ceiling with two poor, mistakes. For once the forwards, eventually, saved the game. One should not complain too much our back four has been terrific and not just for this season.
Benitez made changes to the side giving it a much stronger look than Wednesday’s. It should be noted that Spurs made seven changes although everyone seemed more interested in our five?
Our goal came soon enough. Jenas held Gerrard with a challenge that was more appropriate to The Stade Velodrome on Saturday than football. Gerrard’s shot was spilled by the England’s “number one” and Voronin followed up. Just the start we wanted.
Tales of missed chances blurted out of the radio. Torres waltzed through the Spurs defence to put one just wide. Gerrard then hit the post with a great free kick that left Robinson nowhere. A sweeping move started by Gerrard putting Torres through who unselfishly squared to Voronin what then unselfishly touched the ball into the path of the on running Gerrard only for his effort to blocked by Dawson. Nice stuff, but Torres or Voronin should have scored. A sign that we were lacking confidence, were we trying to make too sure?
As the announcement to warn fans about smoking in stadium competed with the radio commentary our hopes of a half time lead were stubbed out. It was a simple goal, Robinson’s clearance, Berbatov’s knock on and Keane impishly sneaking between Finnan and Carragher to flick it home. Forty three minutes, the worse possible time to concede and this showed in the second as Keane ensured lightening struck twice. Again Berbatov nodded on Robinson’s clearance for Keane arrive late in the box, unmarked with Arbeloa on another planet, to hook it past Reina. Two very poor goals conceded in four minures either side of the break by a defence which on this evidence one wouldn’t have believed had kept so many clean sheets this season. After the game Benitez hinted that this was the difference.
“We made two bad mistakes… The second goal was especially bad – we need to learn for the future as the small details change games.”
It was encouraging that rather than just sit back and aimlessly wait for something to turn up like we did against Marseille we went in search of putting it right although we had to work hard to do it. Robinson was kept busy especially by Mascherano with a long range effort which he spilled again (this bodes well for England!) and another well saved at his near post. Finally, persistence paid off in the second minute of injury time. Benayoun’s over hit cross was collected by Finnan who returned the ball into the area for Torres to head home decisively. It was the sort of header that we’d like Peter Crouch to make more of and showed another side to the Spaniard’s play.
What can we taken from this game and use to make things better in the future? It seems like we had more ideas going forward and showed determination to dig ourselves out of the hole we got ourselves into and it’s not often our defence has an off day. Reports suggested the atmosphere in the ground was almost church like, it was Sunday, and the players will be more determined than ever to put this right.
However, it was harsh for Spurs and lucky for us with another out of sorts effort. Perhaps, more worryingly were the reports of Steven Gerrard’s performance being rather lackluster. I think it fair to say that since his return from injury the top man has been below par. Fitness problems? That would ironic given Benitez’s policy of resting players!
Of course it could have been worse but ultimately with the others around us winning, meaning we are now six points off top spot, it has to go down as another bad result. Lets’ hope all goes well for our players in the international break and that we make full use of the breathing space to return against Everton in two weeks time with renewed purpose?
Onwards and hopefully upwards?
Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Arbeloa (Babel 63), Pennant (Kuyt 69), Mascherano, Gerrard, Riise, Voronin (Benayoun 77), Torres.
Subs Not Used: Itandje, Lucas.
Tottenham: Robinson, Chimbonda, Dawson, Kaboul, Lee, Tainio (Malbranque 75), Jenas, Zokora, Bale, Keane, Berbatov.
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Defoe, Huddlestone, Gardner.