Kuyt 6, 90 pen
Tottenham Hotspur 0
Before this game George Gillett claimed that Liverpool’s form so far this season had been “a blip”
“I think that’s been a real challenge to the coach. He’s had to really make some innovations and play some players out of position and so forth. And notwithstanding that, they’ve generally played with a lot of passion. I really believe it’s a blip.”
In America we are told, usually by Americans, everything is bigger does this even extend to “blips”? However, this was a fighting performance and a deserved win which brings us to within a point of fourth place. Fewer mistakes, less wobbly moments and a final ten minutes without fluffing it! It’s been said before this season but let’s hope it is a win which starts to take some of the pressure off Rafa and the team and brings much needed confidence, signalling better days, or games, to come?
As expected last nights side had a bit more pizzazz than Saturdays. Aquilani started and Riera made a return from injury. Kuyt was the lone striker. Any nerves the Dutchman might have harboured over his last ditch miss on Saturday were soon banished however, not before Kyrgiakos nearly gave Spurs the lead with an own goal. Before anyone could chew over this we were ahead as Aquilani collected the ball from Kuyt’s chest down and returned it to him. Kuyt made no mistake with a low side footed effort into the corner.
After that the game swung from Spurs, who had the majority of the ball after the goal, to us in final third of the first half. The game also became unnecessarily nigglely with a number of late challenges, neither side made effective use of the resulting free kicks although Kyrgiakos had to haul Crouch down by his shirt to stop Spurs from getting something. It was some feat from the Greek given Crouch’s physique and some feat from Howard Webb who decided to penalise Crouch rather than point to the spot!
On the whole we seemed content to contain Spurs and wait to see what breaks we got going forward. None materialised. Although we were showing good spirit and fight, one couldn’t help thinking that we lacked that little bit of flare to enable us to force home the early advantage the goal gave us. Although they hadn’t played particularly well, Spurs probably went into the changing room not too disheartened knowing that they would play better.
The first minute of the second half saw a heart stopping incident involving Reina and Defoe and a tussle on the edge of the area. Reina stopped, claiming Defoe was offside allowing him find the net. We eventually got the decision but not before the Spurs man had got back onside and moved into second phase, I think, or was the moon supposed to be in line with Venus and Saturn? This rule is so confusing!
Riera seemed to have been galvanised by the half time break floating a free kick onto the top of the net and then heading against the bar from Carragher’s cross. However the threat from the visitors was always there with Modric and then Jenas, with a better effort, testing Reina. A second goal was needed and it looked like it was to happen as Kuyt broke and fed Degen. All Degen had to do was to beat the keeper but quite frankly he bottled it (typical defender?) and rather than test Gomes he chose to return the ball to Kuyt who was in far worse position to score. The two players combined again Degen this time set up Kuyt at the far post, who lifted his shot over the bar.
All the time one had a feeling that we would be punctured if we didn’t get a second and as we entered the final ten minutes the nerves were frazzled. Here we go again especially as Kuyt missed a sitter from six yards out, Kyrgiakos then repeated the trick, would we pay for it? However, unlike Stoke, Spurs didn’t put us under any pressure and we forced the pace pressing them back.
Nerves were finally soothed as Bassong upended Ngog . Kuyt, at the second attempt after some encroachment, converted. A goal at the beginning and end of the game for the Dutchman but, above all, signs that we might actually be dealing with that “blip”?
Liverpool: Reina, Kyrgiakos, Insua, Carragher, Degen (Darby 90), Skrtel, Aquilani (Ngog 79), Riera (Maxi 81), Mascherano, Lucas, Kuyt Substitutes: Cavalieri, Darby, Maxi, Spearing, Babel, Ngog, Pacheco
Tottenham: Gomes, Bale, Dawson, Corluka (Hutton 61), King (Bassong 81), Jenas, Palacios, Modric, Kranjcar (Keane 65), Crouch, Defoe Substitutes: Alnwick, Hutton, Bassong, Rose, Pavlyuchenko, Keane, Giovani