Spurs slump to another heavy defeat against top-four side at Liverpool
17:57 30 March 2014
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Premier League: Liverpool 4 Tottenham 0
Tottenham suffered another heavy defeat against one of the Premier League’s top four sides as Liverpool completed the double over the Lilywhites at Anfield.
Having thumped Spurs 5-0 at Anfield in December, Brendan Rodgers’ Reds triumphed 4-0 on Merseyside.
An own goal from Younes Kaboul followed by strikes from Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson took the hosts to the top of the table.
Meanwhile, Tottenham are sixth in the table, four points adrift of fifth-placed Everton, having picked up just one point from a possible 24 against the sides who are currently occupying the top four places.
Indeed, the aggregate score across the eight clashes with Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal is 27-2.
Tim Sherwood was unable to call on Emmanuel Adebayor, who was absent for the third game in a row with a heel injury, while the head coach opted to pick Gylfi Sigurdsson over Mousa Dembele.
The Iceland international’s energetic pressing had been a key factor in the previous weekend’s victory over Southampton – and it seemed that Sherwood was looking for something similar to Anfield.
However, with less than two minutes on the clock, Coutinho was given all the time in the world to get his head up in central midfield and pick out Raheem Sterling, who was unmarked and fed the overlapping Glen Johnson.
The Reds right-back held off Christian Eriksen to get around the back before delivering a low cross which took a nick off Jan Vertonghen and then diverted off Kaboul into the net.
Moments later Kaboul misjudged a header, allowing Luis Suarez to bring the ball down and attack him in the box – but the defender won a crucial challenge.
It was all Liverpool, and Suarez delivered a cross from the left which was just too high for the diving Daniel Sturridge, and the Uruguayan then gathered a throw-in and prodded the ball to the edge of the box, where Coutinho sent a volley bouncing wide.
Spurs’ plight got much worse after 25 minutes as Vertonghen limped off, bring replaced by the pedestrian Michael Dawson – and the substitute immediately played Kaboul into trouble, gifting the ball to Suarez before predictably losing out in a foot-race as the Liverpool hit-man went on to finish low across Hugo Lloris.
Spurs soon had their first real attempt on goal, but Eriksen’s drive was well blocked by Martin Skrtel – and Steven Gerrard also threw himself into the path of Kyle Naughton’s ambitious 25-yard effort as the hosts matched their superior skills with greater desire and passion.
Tottenham finally began to find their feet, stringing some passes together, and Bentaleb fired at Simon Mignolet from 25 yards before Roberto Soldado forced the Liverpool goalkeeper into another save with a curling effort inside the box.
However, any marginal improvement was nearly undone as Kaboul lost the ball to Raheem Sterling, who crossed for Suarez. The striker headed towards the top corner but Lloris made a stunning reaction save to tip the ball onto the bar.
Eight minutes after the interval, Sterling played a one-two with Sturridge to get in behind and bear down on Lloris, but he elected to tee up Jordan Henderson, who blazed over.
It did not matter because a few moments later Jon Flanagan advanced from left-back and found Coutinho, who ran at the Spurs box unopposed and fired into the bottom left corner from 20 yards.
Sherwood made two changes just before the hour-mark, with Andros Townsend and Mousa Dembele replacing Aaron Lennon and Bentaleb.
However, Liverpool continued to threaten, with Lloris coming out to claim the ball at Suarez’s feet before Danny Rose gave the ball to Sturridge, who attempted an audacious backheel that tested Lloris again.
The fourth goal arrived in the 74th minute as Henderson’s inswinging free-kick ended up in the back of the net, seemingly without getting a touch – although Suarez claimed one.
Spurs sought for a consolation goal, with Nacer Chadli seeing his shot deflected over before Dawson fired over from the resulting corner – but there was to be no silver lining.
“Where is our manager?” chanted the visiting fans as Sherwood watched the second half from the directors’ box, three rows behind chairman Daniel Levy, whose task seems to keep getting bigger by the month.
And there was more bad news for Tottenham in the dying minutes as Roberto Soldado was stretchered off after landing awkwardly.
Tottenham: Lloris, Naughton, Kaboul, Vertonghen, Rose, Bentaleb (Dembele 59), Sigurdsson, Lennon (Townsend 59), Chadli, Eriksen, Soldado