Tottenham 1 – 2 Liverpool

First Hurdle In Difficult Stretch Cleared

Jurgen Klopp described Liverpool’s victory at Wembley as the “best performance of the season”.

“The performance today was better that the result. Especially because in all the games (before), we had really good moments, but today we had 85 brilliant minutes”, Klopp said.

Despite the improved performance, the result should’ve been far more clear cut as finishing let the Reds down.

Player Ratings

Alisson – 7:

Alisson promised last week that he wouldn’t repeat the error that led to Leicester’s goal, and he was good for his word.

The Brazilian was far more efficient with the ball and pulled off a strong save to dent Christian Eriksen. Alisson can take no share of the blame for Erik Lamela’s rocketed shot into the bottom corner.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7.5:

The young Scouser put on another impressive display and was influential at both ends of the pitch.

TAA had a chance to score from a well-placed free-kick, but unfortunately he couldn’t work the keeper after beating the wall.

Joe Gomez – 8:

Another credible display against top opposition shows that Gomez is finally fulfilling his immense potential.

One lapse early in the second-half to allow Harry Kane through on goal was the only blemish on an excellent performance, punctuated by an incredible covering run to deny the speedy Lucas Moura.

Virgil van Dijk – 8.5:

VVD hadn’t been at his best for the previous few Liverpool games, but as was to be expected, he’s returned to form without too much delay.

Most impressive of all was his ability to completely nullify Kane to the point that it was easy to forget the England striker was on the pitch.

Andy Robertson – 7.5:

Another copy and paste review of Robbo’s performance. Solid at both ends of the pitch.

The new Scottish captain has made a metoric rise in the last year, and one wonders how much further he has to grow.

Gini Wijnaldum – 8:

The curse is over! Gini finally scored an away goal in the league, so you have to wonder what the commentators will say now whenever he touches the ball in an away game.

His headed goal was undoubtedly the highlight of his day despite some good positional work, he was also guilty at times of stunting attacking movements with uncharacteristically poor passes.

James Milner – 8:

Milner, like Gini, is just about undroppable at the moments, and if these two keep it up Fabinho will struggle for game time.

His positional sense was exemplary, filling in for others as they pushed up. The only negative was once giving the ball away dangerously on the edge of the box.

Naby Keita – 7:

He’s still not quite there unfortunately, and this really was the game to kick start his Liverpool career properly.

He had a couple of chances to score, but couldn’t, and in general still appeared to be rusty. Of course he’ll come good at some stage, but hopefully that is sooner rather than later.

Mo Salah – 6:

Mo kept getting into the right positions, but consistently picked out the wrong option or simply fluffed the chance, including a one on one with Michel Vorm.

Some of this is undoubtedly down to putting extra pressure on himself to replicate last year’s heroics, but we need him back at his best for the games to come.

Sadio Mane – 7:

Like Salah, Mane was causing the opposition defence no end of problems, but couldn’t convert or pick out the right option.

He failed to find Gini when he was clean on goal, and fell over himself when a goal beckoned. In fairness to both wingers, despite not having the end-product, their overall games were quite good.

Bobby Firmino – 8.5 (Man of the Match):

This was undoubtedly Firmino’s best game of the season, although still miles away from his devastating best.

His composure on the ball was a sight to behold as his deft touches and turns were justly rewarded with the winning goal.

Subs

Jordan Henderson – (on for Firmino 74′) 6.5:

Hendo did a decent job after subbing on for Firmino. Bobby was severely poked in the eye by Jan Vertonghen, yet the referee blew a foul in Spurs’ favour much to Klopp’s bemusement.

Daniel Sturridge – (on for Keita 82′) 6.5:

Keita had to fill in for Bobby when he went off, but Studge couldn’t do much better when he came on with only minutes to go. Has to take part of the blame for losing Lamela at the back post.

Joel Matip – (on for Alexander-Arnold 89′) N/A:

No time to make an impact.

Unused Subs – Simon Mignloet, Alberto Moreno, Fabinho, and Xherdan Shaqiri

Jurgen Klopp – 8:

Klopp has to take a lot of credit for Liverpool’s perfect start considering the performances haven’t been the best.

Rotating the team would’ve been tempting, but our best XI was required for the league which is the ultimate prize.

Talking Points

How Much Longer Until Our Front Three Are Back?

All Liverpool fans were left frustrated at times when our attack either couldn’t finish chances they would’ve snapped up last season, or selfishly picked out the wrong option when an easy goal beckoned.

Klopp himself was seething on the sidelines at times, regularly bellowing at those he felt were culpable.

With that level of fury, it’s certain that Klopp will focus his attention on this side of things, and surely it won’t be long until they’re either back to their best or the likes of Shaqiri and Sturridge are given a chance to do better.

Klopp’s Plans

As much as I believe it’s a good thing that Klopp chose to not rotate in this game, it does raise the question as to his intentions for the rest of the squad.

How much longer will the likes of Fabinho and Shaqiri in particular need before their ready to prove their work.

Some have suggested the next game against PSG in the Champions League will be the occasion Klopp finally rotates, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is not the case.

First Step of Many

Liverpool’s next game is at home vs PSG, followed by what should be a fairly straightforward home fixture against Southampton.

Given that fact, Klopp may play his best XI against PSG, then rest them vs Southampton so that they’re fresh to take on undefeated Chelsea and league favorites Manchester City.

Whatever the case, continuing our winning form in the league is the most important thing and Klopp will likely have the same opinion.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 16/09/2018

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Tottenham vs Liverpool – Preview

Liverpool Kick Off Run of Tough Fixtures at Wembley

Liverpool have made a perfect start to the season so far, and so had Tottenham until they were defeated by a plucky Watford side.

Spurs will be looking to ruin Liverpool’s run and get their own season back on track ahead of the mid-week Champions League games.

It’ll be a difficult game to predict after the international break, and much will depend on the freshness and availability of each sides players.

Tottenham

Team News and Predicted Lineup

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As mentioned above, predicting a result, let alone a lineup for this game will prove exceedingly difficult.

The only certainties for Tottenham are that Moussa Sissoko, Dele Alli and Hugo Lloris will miss the game through injury.The rest of the team however, is highly interchangeable, particularly in midfield and defence.

Davinson Sanchez could be an option despite coming back late from international duty, while Danny Rose and Serge Aurier could feature if Keiran Trippier or Ben Davies aren’t fit to play.

Liverpool

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Likewise, the Reds’ lineup will be difficult to pick. Despite the fact that we have a run of difficult fixtures coming up, Klopp may elect to not rotate for this match.

News broke this week that Dejan Lovren will be sidelined for a further month at least, while Adam Lallana picked up a minor injury while away on England duty. Simon Mignloet also suffered a knock, but should still make the bench.

Klopp’s other options that may start ahead of those who travelled include Joel Matip, Alberto Moreno, Nathaniel Clyne, Jordan Henderson, as well as the more exciting possibilities of Daniel Sturridge and Xherdan Shaqiri.

Pre-Game Analysis

Like Liverpool, Tottenham have been, mostly, securing good results despite sub-par performances. In particular, star striker Harry Kane is yet to hit top form, much like our front three.

Given the stunted attack, the midfield battle becomes even more important and so it will be up to James Milner and Gini Wijnaldum to wrangle Christian Eriksen and Mousa Dembele, while Eric Dier struggles to contain Naby Keita.

This will be the game where Keita must stand up and cause Spurs serious damage, as his ability to operate between the lines will be key to breaking up their well-drilled defence.

Prediction

If Liverpool play to their best ability, then we should be able to handle every Spurs throw at us while causing them serious problems at their end.

But it’s unlikely we’ll see the Reds at their best at Wembley due to the hangover from the international break.

Given that, another gutsy performance will be required to get the win, and the Reds will do so in a 1-3 victory.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – 15/09/2018

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Liverpool 2 – 2 Tottenham

Courageous Reds Denied by Questionable Refereeing

While not necessarily a disastrous result for either side, neither set of supporters would’ve been overjoyed with a draw before the game. Throughout the game though, you would forgive any fan for taking a draw at various stages, like a Leicester fan cashing out of a bet in late 2015/16. Liverpool took the lead in the third minute when Mo Salah pounced on an Eric Dier mistake. The Reds were teasing another high profile thrashing, but it was Spurs who went on to dominate the majority of the remaining minutes. Liverpool, uncharacteristically, sat deep and invited Spurs to advance, and despite a few hairy moments were able to repel most attacks. Victor Wanyama’s booming effort inevitably levelled the scores and seemed to crush any hopes of a Liverpool victory. A mistake by Dejan Lovren let an offside Harry Kane through who appeared to dive over a Loris Karius challenge to win a penalty. Karius saved the penalty to spare the Reds from conceding a goal that never should’ve stood anyway, but Salah went one better, scoring a magical goal in the 91st minute to give Liverpool a hard-fought if somewhat undeserved win. The officials weren’t finished though and belatedly awarded Erik Lamela a penalty after he theatrically fell to the ground from minimal contact by Virgil Van Dijk. Kane scored his 100th Premier League goal, much to Liverpool’s fury and heartbreak.

Player Ratings

Loris Karius – 8: A remarkable and admirable night from a ‘keeper under immense pressure where the only reasonable criticism of him could be his inconsistent distribution. Consistently dealt with Spurs’ attacks, making some crucial saves, including denying Heung-Min Son and Kane in one-on-one situations. Karius has received some criticism for punching the ball into the path of Wanyama for the first goal, but this critique is misguided. He couldn’t risk catching the ball as Lamela was waiting a yard away, ready to pounce on any mistake, and his punching clearance managed to clear the ball at least 25 yards away, it was just unfortunate it fell to a Tottenham player who caught the ball perfectly. His penalty heroics against Kane were unjustly undone by poor officiating. If Karius can maintain this level of form and confidence, he may retain his place in goal beyond this season.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7.5: A surprise return to the first-team for the youngster, given Joe Gomez’s excellent form, but the academy player was virtually faultless throughout. TAA took a hefty challenge early from Ben Davies which might’ve warranted a yellow card, but the young lad didn’t shy away and responded with a few stern tackles of his own. His crossing was mostly superb and on another day could’ve had an assist to his name. It is becoming increasingly difficult to pick who Liverpool’s starting right-back should be.

Dejan Lovren – 7: Lovren produced another fine display and was capable in the air. He had to deal with a lot of pressure throughout the game, and despite one hiccup, was mostly steadfast. Unfortunately, the one mistake in question was quite poor and did lead to a penalty, but he has done enough to continue being picked as Van Dijk’s partner.

Virgil Van Dijk – 8: Another player who had an excellent game undone by one error, only in Van Dijk’s case, there’s an argument to be made that it was instead the linesman who was at fault. For 99% of the game, he was a towering leader at the back and was displaying exactly why Jurgen Klopp paid so much for him. For the penalty, Lamela jumped in front of him from behind as he was swinging for the ball, and the big Dutchman even pulled out, but Lamela was successful in seeking minimal contact and threw himself to the ground.

Andy Robertson – 7: You could almost copy and paste analysis’ of Robertson’s performances over the past weeks, another solid game. The only criticism that could be attributed to him was that his crossing was unusually poor on the night. Did well to force Spurs to mostly focus their attacks down the right-hand-side as they were unprepared to allow Trippier to continue to be bested by our Robbo.

Jordan Henderson – 6: Henderson was deservedly picked to start this game after his strong showing against Huddersfield, but in hindsight, it may not have been the best decision. Through no fault of his own, Henderson was restricted to a simple game of sweeping up second balls and recycling possession. His lack of game time was his greatest downfall as his fatigue began to show and the likes of Dele Alli and Son took advantage of it. He also could’ve done more to contest the midfield battle as Tottenham spent large portions of the game parked in Liverpool’s half.

Emre Can – 6.5: Can fared slightly better than his captain in the midfield, but was similarly unable to halt the Spurs onslaught. It is puzzling that the midfield trio that was picked struggled so badly in this regard, given they are undoubtedly Liverpool’s best defensive-minded midfielders.

James Milner – 6: Milner was strangely selected as the most advanced of the midfield three, despite being considerably slower than the other two. Many were expecting Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Gini Wijnaldum to take his place for this game, but Milner hardly let his team down by anyone’s reckoning. His biggest downfall was that he, like Henderson faded as the game went on and Spurs were able to capitalise on that. He was also guilty of giving away some silly fouls in dangerous positions, unusual for the experienced England international.

Sadio Mane – 6: Poor Mane. He always seems so close to rediscovering his form, and yet it just eludes him. His pace and movement again caused problems throughout and he could’ve gone through on goal late in the first half if Salah’s pass was better. To be fair though, he also cost Salah a chance when his wayward pass took the wind out of the sails of a counter-attack in the second half. Desperately needs goals to help him push through this mental block he’s having.

Mo Salah – 8 (Man of the Match): Some players only stand up when everything is going right for them and their team, not Salah. He was able to score two vital goals for his team when they needed him most, and moreover, when he wasn’t at his individual best. For most of the game, barring the goals, Salah didn’t produce anything to worry the likes of Jan Vertonghen. His second goal will go down as one of the very best of the season, despite its status as a match winner being unfairly stripped away.

Roberto Firmino – 6: A rare subdued performance from Liverpool’s number 9. In fairness to him, he received minimal service and was reduced to doing the donkey’s work of chasing down Tottenham’s back line, but he seemed far from his best even when he did receive the ball.

Subs

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (on for Mane – 64′) – 4: This time around The Ox was given plenty of time to make an impact, but failed to do so. He was incredibly wasteful in possession and arguably could’ve reacted quicker in the build-up to Wanyama’s equaliser.

Gini Wijnaldum (on for Henderson – 64′) – 4: Had the same amount of game time as The Ox but did even less of note. No impact.

Joel Matip (on for Milner – 78′) – 6: Came on to sure up Liverpool’s defence and did his job to a satisfactory degree despite the end result.

Unused Subs: Simon Mignolet, Alberto Moreno, Dominic Solanke, Danny Ings 

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 8: Klopp’s lineup and tactics could not be faulted for this game, at least not in the build-up to it. Through the benefit of hindsight, the argument could be made that he should’ve known that Henderson and Milner would not be able to keep up with the pace of such a fierce game given their lack of game time. When his side began to tire though, he swiftly brought on fresh legs to try and reclaim the midfield. He cannot be blamed for his substitutions inability to do so, and other individual errors, particularly from the referees. Was rightly furious at the officials during and after the game, but admirably managed to keep his cool and avoid retrospective action in the post-game press conference.

Talking Points

Diving Spurs and Bottling Officials

Of course, few Liverpool fans could seriously argue that Liverpool should have walked away with all three points given the respective performances of both sides. It’s unquestionable that Spurs dominated the majority of the game and that Liverpool were mostly on the back foot. That doesn’t change the fact though that Liverpool fought bravely and were ultimately undone by a lucky strike from a defensive-midfielder not known for his ability to shoot and an awful decision from a linesman. The referee, who had a better view of the incident, called for play to continue until the linesman appealed to overturn his decision. Even the officials can’t be entirely blamed for bottling the decisions. The Spurs players were consistently trying to deceive them including Kane, Lamela and Alli who was booked for blatant simulation. Knowing that they were continuously doing this and even more so in the desperate final stages, it is baffling that the linesman gave a decision like that in a situation that was 50/50 at best.

Calls For VAR

Whenever incidents of this nature occur in a high-profile game, legions of furious fans demanding VAR follow. I am, generally speaking, not one of them, as I believe the system has the potential to cause more problems that it solves, but it is difficult to hold that position when your own team has been so clearly wronged. Even former referees and former Spurs players, including Howard Webb and Jermaine Jenas respectively, questioned the decision when viewing the replay in the aftermath of the game. Perhaps after the season finishes, I will write a full article discussing the pros and cons of VAR, but it is not clear as of this moment whether VAR would’ve changed this particular decision. There was contact, albeit minimal, so despite common sense dictating an overturn of the decision, I’m not sure there would’ve been enough evidence to do so by the books.

The Road Ahead and Battle for Top-Four

As stated earlier, a draw against Tottenham is not a disaster by any means, but it does mean that Liverpool have reduced the margin for error somewhat. Instead of being four points clear of them, the Reds are only two points ahead with 12 games remaining. Spurs will not be slowing down as they seek to gain a crucial place in next year’s Champions League. Arsenal too will fancy their chances as they recruited well in January and produced an outstanding display on the weekend. Luckily though, Chelsea are in poor form and their heavy defeat against Watford sees Liverpool retain 3rd place, ahead by one point. Liverpool’s last-16 matches against FC Porto in the Champions League loom on the horizon as Klopp will need to start rotating his squad to achieve the best results. Liverpool’s upcoming league games include Southampton (Away), West Ham (Home), Newcastle (Home), followed by another fixture which could shape the top four, Manchester United (Away).

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea for Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 06/02/2018.

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Liverpool vs Tottenham – Preview

Crucial Clash at Anfield

Liverpool

Team News

Liverpool’s squad has been scaled-back somewhat during the transfer window, and despite a couple of absences, there are also a few players who are available to return to the fold. Ragnar Klavan and Adam Lallana will most likely not feature, but Alberto Moreno and Virgil Van Dijk could return.

Predicted Lineup

LivTotLine

Loris Karius, Andy Robertson and Joe Gomez will retain their places, but the centre-back pairing could be changed. Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren helped to keep a clean sheet against Huddersfield, but it is hard to imagine that Jurgen Klopp would not pick Van Dijk if he is fit. The midfield will be the hardest area of the pitch to predict due to recently returned players as well as the form of others. Emre Can, Gini Wijnaldum and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have been hot and cold in the last few weeks, whereas both Jordan Henderson and James Milner greatly impressed in their first starts in a long time. There are arguments to be made for a number of midfield combinations here, but the one listed above is what I believe to be currently the strongest and is what Klopp will likely go with. The front three pick themselves despite Mane’s shaky form.

Tottenham

Team News

Tottenham will have also some returning players to potentially call on to make their return. The likes of Toby Alderweireld, Harry Winks and Serge Aurier have returned to training, but it is unknown whether this game will be too soon for all or some of them to feature. Spurs have also acquired the services of the talented Lucas Moura, but Mauricio Pochettino has hinted that he is unlikely to debut at Anfield.

Predicted Lineup

LivTotLineTot

Pochettino claimed in his press conference that his team will be looking to attack Liverpool despite the danger that the Reds present going forward. Whether or not this claim proves to be entirely true will largely dictate the team that starts at Anfield. Alderweireld and Aurier may find themselves on the bench after only just returning, but Danny Rose should come in for Ben Davies after sitting on the bench for the victory over Manchester United. Other than this, Tottenham’s defence should look the same as it did in the previous game. In the midfield, Eric Dier will retain his place while Moussa Dembele could make way for Victor Wanyama if Pochettino decides to sacrifice an attacking option for defensive solidity. Similarly the front four should remain the same for Spurs. However, Moussa Sissoko could be preferred instead of Heung-Min Son due to his ability to get back and assist the defence.

Analysis

Liverpool will predictably seek to keep the game at a frantic tempo both on and off the ball. It will be vital for the Reds to cut off the supply to Spurs’ formidable attacking players by hounding the likes of Wanyama and Dier, forcing them to commit errors. Salah and Mane will attempt to test the concentration of the Tottenham defence, aided by the movement of Roberto Firmino. Should Rose be missing from the starting lineup, then the task should become somewhat less difficult. If Liverpool can rattle Tottenham early, there’s every chance that this could turn into a repeat of the first 60 minutes against Manchester City.

 

Tottenham’s approach is certainly less predictable, but they will be confident regardless of the tactics chosen. Harry Kane will undoubtedly be the key if they want to get a result, but the threats of Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Son cannot be ignored. Jan Vertonghen is an outstanding centre-back in typically excellent form, but his task at Anfield will be considerably greater than some of the other challenges he’s faced. One of his fiercest challenges surprisingly stems from Liverpool’s defence rather than attack. Van Dijk’s considerable aerial presence could cause Spurs problems as they, like Liverpool, are guilty of conceding cheap goals from set pieces at times.

Prediction

This is a tough game to call. There’s solid arguments for either side, making a draw distinctly possibile as well. However, there are a number of factors that I believe give Liverpool the edge. Firstly, Liverpool will be out for revenge after the mauling in the reverse fixture. Secondly, Spurs record at Anfield is quite poor, having not won there in over seven years. Lastly, Liverpool would appear to have the stylistic advantage as Spurs do not stack up as well if they were to go ‘toe-to-toe’ with the Reds as the likes of Arsenal and Manchester City tried and failed to do. As long as Liverpool’s defenders remain focused, the likes of Salah, Firmino and hopefully a resurgent Mane should be able to do the rest. Liverpool will run out convincing 3 – 1 winners thanks to a Mane brace and a Firmino clincher overshadowing Kane’s 100th Premier League goal.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea for Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 04/02/2018.

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Tottenham 1 – 1 Liverpool

Reds Held to a Draw at White Hart Lane

In what was billed as the game of the round, Liverpool drew with Tottenham. If asked before the game, most Liverpool fans would’ve been pleased with walking away with a point. Those same fans could be forgiven after the game for being a bit disappointed that after dominating for long stretches of the game Liverpool were unable to seal a victory.

Player Ratings

Simon Mignolet – 7: Unlike the mid-week game against Burton Albion, Mignolet faced a busy afternoon. A handful of good saves throughout kept Liverpool’s lead intact including some confident efforts defending set-pieces, and one brilliant save to deny Toby Alderweireld. He will however have felt disappointed to be beaten at the near post by Danny Rose, but was well within his rights to rush forward and put pressure on the ball, having been short-changed by his defenders.

Nathaniel Clyne – 6: This was an improvement for Clyne from his display at Burnley, but was still arguably at fault for Tottenham’s equaliser. Apart from that he generally provided stability in defence alongside Matip and overlapped well on Mane’s flank. One can’t help but wonder though, with Mane causing havoc against every team he’s faced, would a more attacking-minded fullback be better able to take advantage of the space he creates and transform Liverpool’s right flank into one of the most potent in the league.

Joel Matip – 8: A very solid Premier League debut from Matip, powerful and dominant in the air as expected.  His willingness to venture forward deep into the opposition half was on display again which, given the right service, could be a useful outlet in the future. Had a couple of chances to score from corners and hit the bar from a Milner cross, Liverpool now finally have a consistent threat to aim for from set-pieces; expect the big centre-back to get on the score sheet a few times this season.

Dejan Lovren – 7: Came under criticism for being bullied off the ball by Harry Kane a couple of times, but overall he dealt with the dangerous striker competently for most of the game. This was evidenced by Mauricio Pochettino being forced to sub-off Kane after being unable to influence the game. Lovren was also able to deal with Vincent Janssen comfortably, regularly winning the ball in the air and on the ground. Arguably could’ve done better in the air for Spurs’ goal and was also booked for foolishly kicking the ball away.

James Milner – 7: Was a surprise candidate for penalty-taker, but he expertly sent the otherwise flawless Michel Vorm the wrong way to tuck the ball away in the bottom-left corner. Another solid performance in an unfamiliar role for Milner, demonstrating the ability to defend well whilst providing another attacking outlet down the left flank. He was however another player who could’ve done better for Tottenham’s equaliser, misjudging the flight of the ball in the build up. However, occasional minor errors are to be expected from a player who is not a defender by nature being forced to play left-back.

Jordan Henderson – 7: Finally some signs of life from the Liverpool captain, although it wasn’t the swashbuckling display most were hoping for, it was by far his best performance of the season. He showed far greater composure in his holding role, contributing soundly with his defensive duties. However despite improvement in his own game, his performance as captain was still questionable. As a unit, Liverpool failed to recover after seeing their second goal disallowed, and a vocal, inspiring leader could’ve potentially stopped the rot that led to Spurs’ eventual equaliser.

Adam Lallana – 6: A highly energetic display from Lallana, but not a particularly productive one. A regular problem are for the midfielder, Lallana slowed down counter attacks and turned the ball over by being caught in possession after taking some unnecessary touches. Was unfortunate however to not get his name on the scoreboard after being harshly ruled offside following a delayed pass from Wijnaldum. An interesting stat to come out of the game was the 12.5 kilometres covered by Lallana during the game was the most distance covered by anyone in the Premier League this season.

Georginio Wijnaldum – 5: Another disappointing game for the former Newcastle midfielder. Opted to take the safe option with simple passes and reserved positioning, rather than taking chances and venturing forward to offer another attacking option. There were some minor signs of improvement though, a couple of decent shots and a near-assist for Lallana, but ironically Wijnaldum took too many unnecessary touches and released Lallana too late, meaning the goal was ruled out for offside.

Sadio Mane – 7: This was probably Mane’s worst game so far for Liverpool, and given the fact that he was still quite good, it shows how inspired a signing he’s been. Far more dangerous in the first half, he was able to find space regularly and would’ve scored a couple of goals if not for a brilliant performance by Michel Vorm. As the second half wore on, he became less effective, found less space and generally was unable to link up with Origi. Hopefully this is a partnership that will improve in the future.

Philippe Coutinho – 6: A frustrating afternoon for the Brazilian in a game that he arguably should have been rested after being in doubt through injury. He could’ve scored twice, and despite being denied by some brilliant saves, he undoubtedly should’ve done a lot better with the chances that were presented to him. Faded badly as the game went on, further suggesting he may not have been ready to return to action.

Roberto Firmino – 8 (Man of the Match): An understated, but not unnoticed performance from Firmino. He was involved in just about every attack when Liverpool were able to break, and produced some clever movement to draw the penalty from Erik Lamela, which Milner converted. He also spearheaded Liverpool’s pressing game and drifted into space, providing the Reds with a highly effective outlet in the final third.

Subs

Divock Origi – 6: Failed to influence the game at all as his supporting players were unable to pick him out. Disappointing cameo, but not entirely his fault.

Daniel Sturridge – N/A: Many were mystified when they discovered that Sturridge wouldn’t be starting the match, and this confusion was compounded when he didn’t feature until the 88th minute. Unsurprisingly this was not nearly enough time for Sturridge to make an impact, much less win the game for the Reds.

Kevin Stewart – N/A: Also had no time to influence the game, but it is interesting to note that he has appeared regularly off the bench this season. Klopp clearly sees Stewart as having a role to play this season and possibly beyond.

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 7: A good day overall for the manager. He was able to mastermind a dominate performance and get a sound performance out of an out of form midfield. Liverpool were able to regularly put pressure on Tottenham’s midfield pair and break on the counter after reclaiming the ball. His decision to start Firmino up top paid dividends, but he was unable to effectively implement Origi when he came on, and bizarrely waited until the 88th minute to bring on Sturridge.

Talking Points

One Costly Mistake

Liverpool fans are by now all but used to games like these. A dominant performance undone by one of two series of errors that lead to a draw or loss. This is a mentality issue that needs to be stamped out if the Reds are ever to win the Premier League or another Champions League. To an extent, this issue has been lessened in frequency but is still present. When looking at the top European clubs and even the tops clubs in the league, teams like Juventus and Chelsea, it is rare to see them give up leads or concede soft goals. Of course Liverpool’s style of play leaves them more open to these dangers, but in simple defensive situations it is clear that Liverpool player’s panic more and are more nervy in general than players from the aforementioned clubs.

Reds Rue Missed Chances

Similarly Liverpool fans have become accustomed to seeing their team dominate in attack and create many chances, but fail to convert them regularly. Coutinho will bear much of the blame after this particular game, but he is not alone in his guilt. It is a problem that has been present for years, and again can only be attributed to mentality problems. It simply cannot be a coincidence that Liverpool have to be outstanding in attack and convert most of their chances to win games, whereas opposition teams can convert one of their very few chances in a game to win or draw.

First of Three Tough Games

The first hurdle has been cleared, and whilst it wasn’t ideal, taking home one point from White Hart Lane is nothing to be sniffed at. However, after this result and the loss to Burnley, Liverpool’s next game against Leicester in the first home fixture of the season, becomes crucial. Anything less than a win has to be seen as two or three points dropped as it is imperative for Liverpool to stay within striking distance of early front-runners Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United. This game precedes an away game against Chelsea, which will be an incredibly difficult fixture to walk away with any points at all. Hopefully Liverpool will return from the international break with a relatively bill of health in order to give them the best chance of emerging from the next two games in a good position.

YNWA

 

Cieren O’Dea for Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 02/09/2016.

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Tottenham vs Liverpool

Big Test For Liverpool In Potential Top-Four Clash

Tottenham

Team News

Tottenham will come into the game with a near full strength squad, only their captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris is still out with a hamstring injury. Michel Vorm will continue in goal in his place, meaning Tottenham’s outfield should remain unchanged since the start of the season.

Lineup

spurs.png

Tottenham have grown into one of the toughest teams in the league to break down since the likes of Mauricio Pochettino, Toby Alderweireld and Victor Wanyama have arrived, coupled with the emergence of players such as Eric Dier, Dele Alli and of course Harry Kane; Spurs are no longer an “also-ran” team. They go into the game on the weekend on four points, but by their own standards that were set last season, they may well feel they should be on six, and will look to make amends against the Reds.

Liverpool

Team News

Liverpool will still be without Loris Karius, Joe Gomez, Sheyi Ojo, Mamadou Sakho and Lucas Leiva; however there are rumours of Sakho being offered around to other clubs, so injury may not be the reason for his absence, and Lucas returned to action for the u23’s the other day. Emre Can, Divock Origi and Philippe Coutinho are all in doubt for the game after minor ankle, cramp and hamstring concerns respectively.

Lineup

liverpool vs spurs.png

Liverpool will likely make a few changes from the mid-week game against Burton Albion, with Jordan Henderson moving back to a holding-midfield role, as well as Georginio Wijnladum and Daniel Sturridge returning to the starting lineup. Liverpool will be looking to move on from the disappointment at Burnley, and use confidence gained from the Burton Albion game to secure a positive result at White Hart Lane.

Analysis

Despite being the home team, and likely favourites, Tottenham will remain typically solid with their structure and avoid over committing or turning over possession cheaply. Their midfield more than makes up for their lack of technical prowess with substantial physicality and intelligent defensive minds. Having said that, Spurs will likely use their solid base to patiently hold onto possession until the likes of Chrsitian Eriksen or Alli are able to pick out Kane or Erik Lamela with a ball in behind. James Milner struggled with the pace of the Burnley attacks, so for this reason the key battle to watch for will be Lamela versus Milner.

Liverpool on the other hand will be looking to press and counter as usual. They may look to put a lot of pressure on the midfield duo, knowing that neither posses passing skills that would alleviate the possibility of turning the ball over. Sadio Mane will also look to have a similar impact against Spurs has he’s had against Arsenal and Burton Albion. Daniel Sturridge too will be keen to make a statement in his first start of the Premier League this season. But it will be in the midfield where this game is won and lost and for that reason I am pinpointing the key battle here as being Henderson and Wijnaldum versus Dier and Wanyama.

Prediction

A very difficult game to call either way as both sides have their strenghts and weaknesses and neither have shown signs of spectacular form or consistency thus far. Having said that I believe this game will end in a 2-2 draw with goals from Sturridge and Mane. Liverpool’s potency in attack will shine through, but unfortunately I believe that Henderson and Wijnaldum will not be up for the challenge in the midfield battle. I can also see Milner struggling to contain Lamela if he is on his game. Here’s hoping for a pleasant surprise.

YNWA

Cieren O’Dea for Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 23/08/2016.

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