Inside Lane: A Spurs fan’s verdict on the defeat to Liverpool
PUBLISHED: 17:00 11 March 2013 | UPDATED: 17:40 11 March 2013
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Tottenham Hotspur blogger Daniel Grigg gives his views of Sunday’s Premier League defeat to Liverpool at Anfield
The same sort of individual errors and sloppiness which Tottenham had done so well to keep out of their play during their longest unbeaten run since the 1980s returned with a vengeance at Anfield on Sunday, costing them not two points, but three.
It returned in the shape of two needless back passes which piled pressure on the defence, more so than Liverpool’s in-form attackers had managed themselves.
On both occasions, these mistakes were compounded by errors further behind. Hugo Lloris, quick off his line as always, fluffed his clearance badly, leaving Stewart Downing free to score, the ‘keeper hopelessly out of position. Kyle Walker’s backpass was sickeningly similar to Phil Neville’s for Everton the day before.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto then clumsily allowed the referee the opportunity to award a penalty, after Jermain Defoe had for some reason chipped the ball back into his own penalty area and to the one man so Spurs fan wanted to see – Luis Suarez.
Liverpool made Tottenham pay, and Spurs missed out on what would have been a valuable three points away from home in the race for the top four – not least for how the result might have affected the mindset of Arsenal and Chelsea.
Gareth Bale might not have scored this time, but he was still the most dangerous man on the pitch, which also contained the Premier League’s leading scorer in Suarez.
Bale laid on a superb cross for Jan Vertonghen’s first goal, a bit like Gylfi Sigurdsson’s delivery for his own header against Inter Milan, except from the opposite side and whipped in even faster.
The again, for the second goal, the ball fell kindly off a defender to allow the big Belgian centre-back to show his adept finishing skills with his feet.
Sigurdsson dragged wide after a well-worked Bale flick gave him room shoot, before yet another driving, powerful run from close to the halfway line.
Somehow, on his wrong foot and under pressure, he still managed to float the ball up to Sigurdsson at the far post. He had time to control the ball and set himself, but his shot was turned onto the post.
Unfortunately, Walker appears to have taken Assou-Ekotto’s unwanted mantle as defender most likely to lose concentration and put Tottenham’s hearts in their mouths. The goal he gifted to Chelsea at the end of that game, giving the ball away for Sunderland’s opening goal, the awful pass to Kenwyne Jones at the start of the 0-0 draw with Stoke, and now this, the latest in a long line of errors.
Steven Gerrard did what he’d failed to do against West Brom, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way to slot home the winning penalty. It has to be noted, though, the way that Lloris managed to fling himself across goal. If Gerrard’s shot had been hit the way he usually goes with penalties, the Frenchman would probably have saved it.
A disappointing day for Tottenham, but they still have winnable games coming up and the chance to get their end of season run-in back on track with games against Fulham, Swansea and Everton - ahead of Chelsea and Man City back-to-back. Two wins from the next three are necessary though, and victory over Fulham on Sunday is a necessity if Spurs are to quieten talk of another end-of-season collapse.
Losing Aaron Lennon was always bound to be a massive blow, even with Bale in particular trying his best to make up for it. The England international had started all 28 previous league games under Andre Villas-Boas - as integral to the Spurs balance and formation as anyone, including Mousa Dembele and Bale.
Interestingly, the Welshman’s run of consecutive scoring games came to an end on the same weekend Lionel Messi set another new record for 17 straight games scoring in La Liga. Just to highlight - as if it were needed - the sheer immensity of the gap that still exists between Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and everyone else.
Emmanuel Adebayor is without a goal since New Year’s Day 2013 - Jermain Defoe even further back to Boxing Day 2012.
Arguably the best replacement for Lennon – Andros Townsend, played and scored for QPR and former manager Harry Redknapp the day before. Townsend achieved something akin to Kyle Naughton in 2011-12, making it pretty clear that he is Premier League quality and deserving of plenty more opportunities to get back in the side.
His quality goal to put QPR 2-1 up against Sunderland was another example of the fact that he is steadily improving.
But at Anfield it was Jake Livermore who got the nod, rather surprisingly ahead of Lewis Holtby. Livermore one of those frustrating players who still, despite his size, effort and some decent technique, never really delivers much more than a five or six out of 10 most of the times he plays.