After defeat to Burnley last weekend and the win at Burton Albion midweek, Liverpool fans got the chance to Joel Matip in action in the Premier League. Klopp will be hoping that he will be able to form a decent partnership alongside Dejan Lovren. He impressed me in his last outing at Burton, but the step up in class of opponent today and having to marshall Harry Kane will tell us something of his ability.
The midfield of Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana and Georginio Winjaldum will have to be at it from the start up against a very combative and impressive midfield of Spurs with Deli Ali coming back into the team.
Liverpool couldn’t afford to start this game on the slow and allow Spurs to dominate in the middle from the off. Otherwise it will be hugely difficult to see us getting anything from the game.
Sadio Mané, Phillipe Couthino and Roberto Firmino are our options up top obviously with runners from midfield intended to overlap and get into the box. Daniel Sturridge can feel hard done by not getting a start here. Jürgen Klopp likes his mobile front partnerships and it seems Sturridge has alot to do to in order to blend into this formation that we are seeing more and more often now.
Divock Origi makes the bench also with Sturridge so no recognised centre forward, a strategy that is sure to bring criticism from certain quarters of fans and media alike should we not get the result today.
First after pressing high and winning the ball back a quick through pass takes Firmino in to the box with goal at his mercy and he decides to square the ball to the free Couthino who shoots low but has his shot saved. Should have been a goal without queation. Vorm on goal gets plaudits but surely was a disgusting miss from Phillipe Couthino that should have had us 1 up.
Secondly after last week’s game in which two penalties were awarded under new guidelines to penalise holding and pulling in the box, it came as all the more surprising that having witnessed such an example of this from Jan Vertonghen on Joel Matip in the box while waiting for a corner, the referee Bobby Madley decided to merely stop the game and issue a warning. Surely consistency from a referee would have resulted in a penalty. Not to be this time.
In a half that developed well for Liverpool in terms of possession, pressing and movement, it was no surprise to anyone that we were ahead at the break as James Milner converts a penalty awarded after Eric Lamela clipped the heels of Firmino while running along the end line just inside the box.
A well deserved lead at the half but really should have been more so dominant was our midfield and defending from the front every time.
After no changes at half time Tottenham eventually started to gain some of the control of midfield but still not enough to prevent the constant threat of Mané and Co on the attack. Sadio Mané being a constant thorn in their side all day with his availability to take the ball forward and provide for others. Although being cautioned himself he had to walk a fine line for the last half hour of the game.
Chances to extend the lead came and went with Vorm on the front foot all day long to cut out the ball over the top for the pace of Mané. Doing so at least three times in this game effectively.
A quick break from midfield saw Adam Lallana played in down the left behind the full back who provides a sweet cross for Mané to slot into goal from 2 yards out. A good finish only to be disallowed for an offside given against Lallana on the far side just as he was played through. A very tight decision it has to be said.
As the second goal never came Liverpool were always going to get a little nervy and sure enough Tottenham found a way to punish the Reds. A ball played down the side of James Milner who was out of position enough to get caught out was crossed to the back post where ot found the onrushing Danny Rose free to somewhat awkwardly shoot past the oncoming Simon Mignolet’s outstretched hands.
A goal that seen both full backs caught out of position, particularly Nathaniel Clyne who got attracted to the centre for the cross leaving Rose free.
Although having made a clever save from an Alderwield header from a corner previously to me Simon Mignolet should have done better here when rushing out he hesitated as we’ve seen before also turning his face away from the ultimate soft shot of Rose.It was yet again a very preventable goal to concede in a game which we virtually dominated from stay to finish.
Divock Origi did make an appearance from the bench again this time to replace the somewhat ineffective Couthino and in doing so resigned Daniel Sturridge to a very late appearance from the bench also. Both changes were in vain as the both teams seemed to have decided to take a draw and fight another day.
Before this game I would have taken a point away at a team that for long periods last season challenged for the title only to run out of steam late on. But having seen us dominate in all the important sectors in this game for such a long time, it was disappointing to see such a hugely impressive performance get the obvious 3 points the team deserved.
Individual errors again cost us but on a positive note the defence does look a whole lot better with Matip in there and indeed resulting in Harry Kane being taken off. The performance of our midfield that kept Wanyama, Ali and Co shackled for long periods was encouraging also as was the by now inevitable constant threat of Mané and Co up front.
On we go now to our first home game of the season against last seasons surprise champions and with the extra excitement of the new stand being open it all adds up to another exciting day in prospect for a team starting to find its feet again.The vocal support at Anfield will be tremendous for Klopps team and the sense of occasion while surely provide for another game full of chances and hopefully a little more improvement again.
Written by Stephen King (@StephenKing75)