Tottenham Hotspur 2
Carragher 70 og, Pavlyuchenko 90.
Those “we should have won it” type of games emerge in a number of ways. For example take Arsenal on Wednesday. Taking their chances well to go 3-1 up then 4-2 up, dominating for long periods but a lack of defensive concentration in the final part of the game sees three points slip into one. Then there was yesterday which saw us cruising after an early goal, confidently knocking the ball about, defending well, creating lots and lots of chances sorry, lots and lots and lots and lots of chances however, sadly not being able to take them. Enter Spurs to pick opposition pockets for the second time in a week!
The start suggested nothing of what was to come. After only three minutes the renewed optimism that had been stoked up since Harry Redknapp’s arrival was pricked. Keane, who was childishly and tediously booed by some of the home crowd, collected the ball from a throw in and did well to evade Assou-Ekotto and Ledley King with a neat turn. He then fed Kuyt who smacked it past Gomes from an acute angle.
Minutes later Spurs were at it again with Bent slicing one against his own post. The next twenty minutes saw the home side have plenty of the ball but failing to convert this into anything meaningful in terms of pressure. Their moves were seemingly predictable, or slow enough, to read, enabling our defenders to cope easily. It took until five minutes before the break for Reina to be really tested diving low to his right to deal with a Modric shot.
Presumably, after their first half performance, Spurs were given a serious talking to by Redknapp? If they were it fell on deaf ears as Liverpool chances come with a comforting regularity. However, for all the dominance we showed this was to actually lose us the game. Chance after chance. Kuyt weaving through had his shot blocked by King only for the ball to fall to Gerrard whose shot deflected off King and then saw Gomez to tip it onto the post. Gomez showed something like his recent form with a under hit pass to King that was intercepted by Keane. This ended up in Gerrard chipping onto the cross bar. Then a swift move, involving Arbeloa’s cross and Keane’s flick, saw Kuyt shin it over. Alonso was unable to convert Gerrard’s free kick. Gerrard then blazed wide after blocked shots from Keane and Riera.
Although there were grounds to be confident at the number of chances we were creating and the overall control we had, while you are only one up there is always worry. And so, as night follows day, it game to pass! Carragher an own goal from Bentley’s corner and then the same player forcing a save from Reina only for Bent to feed it back to Pavlyuchenko who avoided Agger’s challenge to flick it home.
Unlucky? Well like beauty it’s in the eye of the beholder? Liverpool fans, their players and Rafa Benitez will say this was so. Spurs will disagree and fans of Middlesbrough, Wigan and Manchester City will simply say things have evened themselves out? The missed chances? Perhaps it’s unfair to put this down to the absence of Torres when Kuyt with his goal today, edged in front of him as this seasons leading scorer?
Yesterday was difficult to take as we played so well but it’s not right to dismiss it was just “one of those days”. In our position we can’t afford these. We need to remember how well we’ve done up until this game and, now we’ve tasted defeat for the first time this season, we must main resolute, professional and confident and, above all, move on.
Tottenham: Gomes, Corluka, King, Woodgate, Assou-Ekotto (Hutton 46), Bentley, Zokora, Huddlestone, O’Hara (Pavlyuchenko 46), Modric (Lennon 75), Bent.
Subs Not Used: Cesar, Bale, Gunter, Campbell.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Agger, Dossena, Kuyt, Mascherano, Alonso, Riera (Benayoun 78), Gerrard, Keane (Babel 66).
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Hyypia, Aurelio, Leiva Lucas, El Zhar.