Monday, February 06, 2012

Live Thoughts: Liverpool vs Tottenham Hotspur (Premier League)

I covered this match live. Here are my Live Thoughts on the match between Liverpool and Spurs.

Hey everyone, it's me again with another one of those Live Thoughts posts. I'm going to do these less often from now on, maybe once a week or a fortnight. I enjoy doing them but they take a lot of space on my blog, when I cover four topics on here. But this is a match I can't avoid covering. It's a big match. We win today, we stay in the pack for a fourth place spot. We draw, we are on the bottom end of the pack. A loss, while isn't the end of the world, means we are a the bottom of the pack with a big ask to get fourth place. We need to stay in the pack, and above it, if we want Champions League football. Spurs on the other hand also need to win to stay close to the Top 2. It's a must win game for both clubs, but hopefully with a fully fit Gerrard, an Andy Carroll who is looking better recently than in most weeks and most importantly, the little firecracker that is Luis Suarez returning to action, means we'll hopefully have the three points at the end of the night. Let's do this!

Here are the teams: 

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Kelly, Agger, Skrtel, Spearing, Kuyt, Gerrard, Adam, Carroll, Bellamy. Subs: Doni, Suarez, Henderson, Coates, Downing, Carragher, Aurelio.

Suarez returns! Gerrard starts! Looking good. I'd have liked Suarez to start today but I can understand the reasoning. While he's fully fit he's probably a little rusty. Not only that but he can make a big impact later on. Nice to see Fabio Aurelio on the bench, it dawned on me today that his contract ends again this season. He'll probably be released, while I like him, his injury problems are still far too relevant. Flanagan needs to develop further so I think this is the beginning of the end for Fabio Aurelio. I like our starting 11. Lucas, Enrique and Suarez aside, it's our strongest side. Should be tough to break down and hopefully we'll have enough firepower to score and win.

Tottenham Hotspur: Friedel, Walker, Dawson, King, Assou-Ekotto, Parker, Livermore, Modric, Kranjcar, Bale, Adebayor. Subs: Cudicini, Saha, Rose, Nelsen, Luongo, Lancaster, Khumako. 

A weakened Spurs side, lacking Defoe and Van der Vaart. Adebayor isn't fully fit either. Saha will try and make an impact later on, being an ex United and Everton player, let's hope we thwart that plan. This side can still cause problems, particularly Modric and Adebayor if he plays to his potential. Dangerous but a weakened side means we should be taking advantage tonight.

3' - A poor start for Liverpool sees Spurs being pinged back to their goal in the early minutes. We defend a corner relatively well. We usually start with aplomb but not today. 

4' A lovely ball from Gerrard to Carroll and he's through! Dawson tackles in the penalty box and my first thought was penalty, but on replay I'm not so sure. 

6' - Scott Parker brings Glen Johnson down JUST outside the box! Free kick! Gerrard takes it and it hits the wall, there was a lot of messing about in the box, kudos to Spurs for providing enough distraction. 

9'  - The game is looking relatively open for both sides, as expected. Both sides have had a decent spell of possession so far. 

11' - A stray cat found its way on to the pitch. Poor little thing. Really cute as well.  The Liverpool fans boo when the stewards removed it.

14' - Liverpool starting to look a little more threatening now, using the left wing. Bellamy combining well with Johnson, who's on the left today, down that side of the pitch.

17' - There's a lot of crossing today by Liverpool, but not long straight balls to Carroll, but strong diagonal balls that are causing the Spurs defence to tear apart slightly. It's good.

18' - Two defeats in 21 matches for Spurs. Incredible statistic. Hopefully we can make it less awesome sounding tonight. 

18' - That's twice now I've seen Charlie Adam covering Glen Johnson down the left back position. Doubling up. It's working at the moment though as that's the side we're using most. 

21' - Once again we're dominating on the left wing. It's not come to fruition yet but it feels like we're really dominating that area of the pitch and if we score, it's likely to source from there. 

24' - The first time I've seen us go down the right but the cross is poor. I'm not sure who crossed that, it might have been Martin Kelly, but it was high and over the box. 

27' - Another few crosses from the right are poor, by Kelly and Adam. Our end product in the final third really isn't good enough at the moment. We're dominating possession but not doing enough clinical crossing. 

29' - Adabayor accidentally catches Bellamy and he goes to ground. It was accidental but a little clumsy by the man from Togo.

30' - A fizzing cross from Adam from a free kick reaches Kuyt in the box but it was offside and his header was well wide anyway. But that cross is the type of cross we need to be doing. A strong, hard, low drive from Adam.

32' - SPEARING! So close! A beautifully balanced tap from Gerrard sets up Spearing perfectly, and it was inches wide! Excellent shot, it's a shame it wasn't the other way round, with Spearing assisting and Gerrard shooting, it probably would have been in as I reckon Friedel was beat.

35' - Possession statistics are 50/50 for the last 10 minutes. It doesn't feel like it. There's been very little from Spurs over the course of the 35 minutes.

37' - A nice one-two from the two Liverpool Youths, Kelly and Spearing down the right wing wins us a corner. I'm so proud of those two representing Liverpool so well. It's about time we have some fresh Scousers in the squad.

38' - Yellow card for Scott Parker, who blocks off a storming Gerrard run. Free kick just outside the box. 

39' - Bellamy takes it and it hits the wall. We need to be better than this when it comes to attacking these set pieces.

41' - Tottenham counter attack and Gareth Bale has a decent sly effort at goal, a cross from the left wing and Bale somehow volleys discretely with his left foot. Thankfully it's straight at Reina. 

43' - Spurs are on the front foot for the first time since the opening minutes. Needing to defend well at the moment. 

45' - One minute of added time. 

45+1' - Johnson takes his chance from far out and Friedel blocks it with his body for a throw in. Half time.

We've looked the better side, that's clear. We've decided to double up down the wings when needed and try to use the wings to make space and cross the ball. And that's as far as we've got. We've dominated the width of the pitch but our crossing has, to be frank, pretty damn poor. We need to be more clinical than this if we're playing the crossing game. I'm surprised we're playing the crossing game when we have good pace and trickery with Gerrard and Bellamy on the pitch supporting Carroll., and Suarez yet to come. But if that's the tactics we need to be crossing better. Adam is the only one whose crossing has been okay, but even that's hit and miss. If this is the tactics Kenny wants, we need to be more clinical. Or change tactics. One of the other. Either way we're looking the more likely to score, and if that remains the case, hopefully we'll get the goal our dominant gameplay deserves.

45' - Nice to see Adebayor and Bellamy having a laugh before the whistle. They obviously got on when they were both at City. 

48' - The commentators have said that Bale has been pretty quiet today, it's true. We've done well to contain the Welshman. 

51' - Suarez is doing a bit of warming up, I don't know if he's coming on yet. Probably not this early I'd imagine. 

54' - Gareth Bale goes down. Agger never touched him but Bale loses it! He pushes Agger back and is really in Agger's face! Really unlike Bale. He gets a yellow card for his troubles. He's probably really frustrated over his lack of influence in the match. 

55' - Bale is getting heavily booed by the Anfield faithful now. Corner for Spurs

56' -  The ball is all over the place in our box as Spurs don't make the most of a strong attack. Adebayor and Bale both had good chances but failed to have a clean shot at goal.

58' - KELLY! Great save by Friedel! Martin Kelly shoots to Fridel's left post and it was a nice save by the American.

61' - Suarez is about to come on! 

64' - Reina the sweeper kicks the ball long and Carroll heads it to Kuyt down the right wing, it's laid off to Adam whose shot is blocked by Dawson. Nice idea. 

65' - Liverpool Substitution: Dirk Kuyt comes off for the returning Luis Suarez. Kuyt, after scoring two games in a row, has been relatively ineffective today. 

66' - Carroll header from the corner! Straight at Fridel. The angle didn't go in his favour. 

69' - Yellow card for Suarez, who's high foot kicks Scott Parker in the stomach. He's winded terribly. Suarez accepts the card with understanding however. 

70' - Tottenham Substitution: Adebayor comes off for Luis Saha. Adebayor has had a relatively poor game, he hasn't really made an impact today. Let's hope Luis Saha makes a poor impact in his place, on his debut. 

72' - Liverpool Substitution: Stewart Downing comes on for Craig Bellamy. Another player who hasn't really had the right impact. Hopefully Downing's crossing ability works well in the last twenty minutes in Bellamy's place. 

73' - CARROLL! Awful shot. Kelly finally whips in a dangerous cross and it gets to Carroll whose immediate half volley is way over the bar. He should be doing better than that.

75' - Skrtel yellow card. Controversial call. He gets the ball off Bale but he uses his studs and Bale goes flying. It really looked bad live. Skrtel is lucky to still be on the pitch. I'm an unbiased Liverpool fan and I'm telling you, we're lucky to still have 11 men on the pitch. That was rash.

77' - Suarez nicks the ball and starts a counter attack! He puts the ball square to Carroll who has to go wide and his cross is headed away. Nice combination between the strikers, but it could have been more. 

80' - Steven Gerrard whips in a strong cross that Friedel palms away, taking a Skrtel set of studs to the chest in defence. The ref calls for a free kick for the American, who questions it as he palmed the ball away. Brad Friedel has balls for taking that kick from Skrtel, who in turn shows his admiration as well. Absolutely awesome from Friedel.

83' - Last 10 minutes or so, including added time. We need to score soon.

84' - Bale's clear! One on one with Reina and Reina wins! It's not dealt with though! Eventually a Agger clears the ball out to the left wing.

85' - SUAREZ! Straight at Fridel. A Stevie G free kick is inch perfect for Suarez who heads it straight at Friedel. That was quite poor from Suarez, a header either side and its in. 

87' - Tottenham Substitution: Danny Rose comes on for Niko Kranjcar, who's also had a game of very little effect. 

89' - A cross to Carroll who heads it to Suarez who's in the box! He tries to turn and shoot but he hands the ball and it's a free kick. Scott Parker does another excellent block to deny him anyway. In honesty, not that I've mentioned it enough, Scott Parker has been brilliant today. Man of the match. 

90' - Four minutes of added time. 

90+2' - Three crosses into around the penalty box in about 20 seconds and all three crosses are deflected by Scott Parker. Story of the match I'd say. 

90+4' - Full time.

7 draws in 9 games for Liverpool at Anfield. It's a problem. It's the problem. We're so hard to beat this season but we just can't score consistently enough. The effort is there. The chances are there. But the story of our season simply is we haven't made the most of scoring opportunities. We've been scoring more recently than we were in the start of the season. But it wasn't enough today. But it's not all doom and gloom. We have a fully fit Gerrard and Suarez back, and Carroll has been a bit better recently. Hopefully arguably the three important players in our striking force can start playing together. It's a fact - Gerrard, Suarez and Carroll all together have never started a game. Never. We've had Suarez and Carroll a full year now. Get those three in tandem, and hopefully goals will flow. That's the idea anyway. That's why Suarez and Carroll were £55 million between them. And Gerrard is to support them. Let's see this happen! Hopefully good times are ahead for Liverpool. We're not out of the race for the Top 4. We just need to continue this decent form with some goals. Goals! That's all we need. Hopefully this is the beginning of a free scoring run.

That's it from me, have a good evening!

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