Tottenham Hotspur 4
Modric (7), Defoe (66) Adebayor (68), (90)
When asked about the sendings off which left Liverpool down to nine men Kenny Dalglish said
“I’d love to comment on the yellow cards but… another time, another day.”
Another time and another day is what every Liverpool fan will wish for as this was a performance that they will want to instantly forget.
It would be easy to blame the dismissals of Charlie Adam and Martin Skrtel however, truth be told, the only effect they had was on the margin of the result. From the opening kick we were second best as Spurs rolled over us seemingly creating chances at will, it could easily have been more than four. It was almost as if we had nine men from the very start such was the space and time we allowed them.
Now is not the time to pick over the bones of this game in terms of were we are however, it serves as wake up to call to anyone that thinks that a few expensive signings will change things overnight. Proof of that was seen today, such thoughts are as naive as our performance.
Kenny made one change from the Stoke game, Carroll for Kuyt. Jamie Carragher started, despite those who might seek to see him dropped, and in playing exceeded Tommy Smith in the list of all time Liverpool appearances. It was a timely reminder of his experience and standing in the club to those who have no time or patience.
Perhaps after this game their attention will be drawn to Martin Skrtel. He was an accident waiting to happen from the moment he was named as right back. Those with an anorak memories, (step forward me) will remember a game against Middlesbrough in February 2009 when Skrtel proved once, but sadly not for all, that he was no full back. Ironically on that day Stuart Downing was his tormentor this time it was Gareth Bale. Perhaps Kenny and Steve Clarke missed that game or thought that Skrtel had improved since then? They were certainly limited for choice due to injuries to Johnson and Kelly however, I guess they have now learnt that some of our defenders are more versatile than others!
Any hopes of building on last Saturday and taking the initiative were soon snuffed out as Adebayor, on his debut, nearly produced the perfect start to win over any home fans who might be harbouring grudges about his previous club. An early warning shot across the bows wasn’t heeded as immediately after we recklessly played the ball in and around and across our penalty area with Spurs strikers bearing done on us. The move was symptomatic of our application through out the game, Spurs were good but, to an extent, we were the architects of our own downfall.
Unless we knuckled down and tried to get the ball and take the sting out of the game the writing was on the wall, we didn’t/couldn’t. Bale, who wasted no time in setting about Skrtel, crossed. The move looked to have broken down as Defoe failed to make anything of it but the ball broke to Modric who smashed home a shot that dipped just under the bar. Suarez then had a goal disallowed if it had stood it would have against the run of play.
Henderson and Downing swapped wings in an attempt to give Skrtel some protection however, we seemed nonplussed by the veracity of Spurs’ start and on 21 minutes allowed Adebayor a clean strike at goal. We were guilty of backing off which we did all too often in our pre season games. To make matters worse Agger, who had been clutching his side for most of the game, finally called it a day and ceded to Coates.
One can’t really complain about the tackles leading to Adam’s sending off, particularly the second one. If I was being charitable I’d say it wasn’t malicious and his eyes were fully on the ball however in Mike Jones we had a referee who was in no mood for giving the benefit of the doubt. Would other referees have seen it differently? Who knows and that is what frustrates managers and plays alike, inconsistency. Perhaps on another day Mr Jones might have been less officious however, yesterday? A bad Saturday night, stamp collection lost, Airfix glue wouldn’t stick, train spotting book eaten by the dog whatever the case those insolent players were going to feel the full extent of his wrath!
Of course by the letter of the law many of the nine cards Mr Jones gleefully waved were justified and he is therefore perfectly entitled to hand them out like one of those people you see on the High Street indiscriminately handing out leaflets advertising night clubs or Indian restaurants. Who can blame him it was such a dirty game, so contentious, so confrontational and set such a bad example to the world of sport sending shock waves around the world, questions will be asked in the house! Surely, there is degree of common sense, no intelligence, to be applied? I wonder if referees actually like football, what makes them tick, or are they using it to for fill some self obsessed, self regarding ego trip?
Nonetheless, for all the calamity, we were still in the game after an hour, only 1-0 down. Although Spurs won a free kick after free kick on the edge of our area they failed to get any of them on target just as we seemingly failed to get any our tackles onto the ball! However if you throw enough mud at the wall some of it will stick particularly after Skrtel earn his inevitable dismissal by, probably for the first time in the game, finally coming into contact with Bale, sadly the ball was no where near him!
The nine man rear guard tried but Defoe after a pirouette with Enrique and then Adebayor, following up a Reina spill, put them out of sight. Adebayor rubbed salt in already painful wounds with a late, late fourth.
Sigh…. cue more needless crisis talk!
Tottenham: Friedel, Bale, Kaboul, King (Bassong 83), Walker, Assou-Ekotto, Parker, Modric, Kranjcar (Van der Vaart 46), Adebayor, Defoe (Giovani 83), Substitutes: Cudicini, Bassong, Corluka, Van der Vaart, Livermore, Pavlyuchenko, Giovani
Liverpool: Reina. Jose Enrique, Agger (Coates 27), Carragher, Skrtel, Henderson, Downing (Spearing 70), Lucas, Adam, Suarez (Bellamy 70), Carroll Substitutes: Doni, Coates, Robinson, Maxi, Spearing, Kuyt, Bellamy