Tottenham Hotspur 4
Pavlyuchenko 38, 52 Campbell 42, 45
Plessis 49, Hyypia 63
Oh Carling Cup what has become of you?
What sort of competition prompts a manager to field a side like Rafa did last night? More to the point what sort of competition prompts our players to perform in the way they did? Would Rafa and his players in all honesty, if the truth be really told, have preferred to have a week off? On the evidence of last night, surely the answer is yes?
The side Rafa fielded should have been than more than capable of putting up a better fight than they did. Even though many haven’t been regulars this season, they were given the precious responsibility of maintaining our good start to the season. They simply didn’t live up to this. The commitment and desire that has seen us pull victory from the jaws of defeat so many times this season was nowhere to be seen. They let us down and the fans who had paid good money, and travelled far, to see them.
Spurs began well not giving us space and cutting off supply to Ngog and Torres. I can’t think of us creating one chance in the first half. Spurs’ first goal was deserved but who would have predicted what was happen in the five minutes after that? If a coach wanted a video of a game to explain how not to defend he could do lot worse than showing this one. Disturbingly it was three of Rafa’s summer signings who were lacking, Degan, Cavalieri and Dossena.
Campbell’s cross found Pavlyuchenko totally free on the penalty spot. Next a long punt saw Campbell nip in front of Cavalieri and Dossena colliding and not communicating. A hat trick of mistakes was completed via a slack ball out of defence which we had plenty of opportunity to rectify but again Spurs were allowed to get into a position to cross to an unmarked Campbell to head home at the far post.
However it was not just the defence where there seemed to be a malaise. It was throughout the side almost as if everyone, from front to back, was going through the motions. Sure, one can make allowances for the degrees of unfamiliarity that come through fielding a second string side, but what are the excuses for simply appearing not to be ars*d?
The second half saw no changes. Clearly it was important to get something back, and quickly, and for the first time, with our first effort on goal, we succeeded. What is it about Brazilian keepers? Cavalieri all at sea at our end and the hapless Gomez who generously gave us a chink of light by failing to deal with Plessis header from Babel’s corner. Having failed to meet the cross he then messed up collecting the header letting the ball dribble weakly over the line.
Sadly any hopes of a trademark come back were punctured. Again it was poor defending losing the ball in our own half and when we did, Degan let Zokora waltz into the danger area to execute a cross cum shot that squirmed to an unmarked Pavlyuchenko. Rafa then took off Torres and Degan and introduced El Zhar and Darby. Both players were involved in the build up that led to our corner from which Hyypia, with Gomez flapping desperately, headed home. After that we pulled ourselves together an made a decent fist of it however it was too late and simply made one wonder why we couldn’t have played like that from the start.
Perhaps I’m going over the top by writing in this way? Many will call for a bit perspective. They will point to our good start say that last night was only the Carling Cup. They will say victory at Bolton on Saturday will render last night irrelevant. Not so I’m afraid.
Compare and contrast the enthusiasm and eagerness to please of Arsenal’s youngsters on Tuesday to last nights hackneyed, careless performance. However, this is not about strength in depth or development of youth squads. It is not even about losing. It’s about simple things that should be taken for granted when you pull on a red shirt whatever the circumstances. Simple things such as commitment and pride. Those who played last night should remember how they felt when they were young players, when they were given their chance in the first team. Can they really, in all honesty say that they ran out last night with the same attitude and desire?
Tottenham: Gomes (Cesar 74), Hutton, Dawson, Corluka, Bale, Lennon, Zokora, Huddlestone, O’Hara, Pavlyuchenko (Boateng 90), Campbell (Bent 90).
Subs Not Used: Bentley, Modric, Gunter, Rocha.
Liverpool: Cavalieri, Dossena, Hyypia, Agger, Degen (Darby 84), Babel, Leiva Lucas, Ngog, Plessis (Alonso 66), Torres (Insua 56), El Zhar.
Subs Not Used: Gulacsi, Riera, Benayoun, Carragher.