“If we get anything from the game then I apologise in advance!” says a Liverpool fan friend of mine, utterly depressed by his side’s recent form, in a pre-game text. It’s easy to see why he’s so down about his side’s current state, one look at the starting line-up tells you that a large portion of their team is made up of players playing out of position. But that didn’t seem to be too evident as The Reds forced an outstanding save from Spurs keeper Michel Vorm in the opening minutes, during a fast start to proceedings.
Christian Eriksen came close with an early free-kick, the Dane hopefully starting to return to the sort of form that made the Lilywhites tick so brilliantly a few months ago. Once the initial adrenaline had worn off, the game settled down into a steady rhythm, with the odd half-chance being the only notable events by the twenty-minute mark.
An Eriksen free-kick in the 21st minute provided a major heart-in-mouth moment for us. Eriksen didn’t manage to beat the first man and any potential danger was promptly cleared, giving Sadio Mane, Liverpool’s lightning-fast summer signing, almost the entire Spurs half to himself. To his credit, Michel Vorm showed that he’d clearly learned a thing or two from training with sweeper-keeper Hugo Lloris, and sprinted off his line, showing quick feet to snatch the ball away from Mane and deny the Reds frontman a golden chance. Vorm continued to be part of the action, as he was suddenly forced into making many more superb saves.
An injury to Kyle Walker (later confirmed to be illness rather than injury) forced an early substitution, with Vincent Janssen, unlucky not to be starting again, replacing him. The change saw Kane dropping back into the number 10 Role and Dele Alli dropping deeper. Spurs immediately looked more threatening in attack, but Jurgen Klopp had clearly got the memo and instructed his troops to defend in numbers, dampening any potential momentum that Spurs were hoping to gain.
A moment later there was a huge penalty shout, with Joel Matip seemingly determined to hug Vincent Janssen before allowing him to enter the penalty area and somehow managing to escape a penalty and probable sending off. The referee, Bobby Madley, considered the situation for a moment before deciding the incident wasn’t worthy of taking any action, and waved play on.
Shortly before half-time, Liverpool made the break through. Walker’s absence meant the lack of a natural right back was proving to be a serious disadvantage up against the pace on the wings, with Firmino sneaking past Lamela, with the Argentine clipping the Brazillian and sending him to the ground. Penalty. Mr Versatile, left back James Milner, stepped up and sent Vorm the wrong way, undoing all the latter’s fine first half work.
The second half began with more of the same, including Spurs continually having decisions go against them. In the 50th minute, Eriksen found some space in the Liverpool half and had a go at goal, but the ball rolled well wide of the post, causing no danger to Mignolet’s goal. A minute later a Liverpool corner almost lead to them doubling their lead, with debutant Matip taking a quick break from asking Vincent Janssen for cuddles, to head just over the bar.
A matter of seconds later, the offside flag put a stop to the Liverpool celebrations as Sadio Mane had a tap in ruled out following a swift counter attack. Replays showed that the offside the decision was correct – just.
At this point the Merseyside club were beginning to dominate, with Spurs struggling to get a foothold in the game. Although a big chance fell to Spurs in the 61st minute, a slick passing move lead to an Eric Dier cross, which found Christian Eriksen in space on the edge of the area, but the Dane could only fire over the bar.
More chances came for Spurs, with an Erik Lamela free kick being tipped over and the resulting corner forcing an outstanding save from Simon Mignolet, as Toby Alderweireld nearly levelled matters with his head.
After a quiet period, Spurs FINALLY made their own breakthrough and levelled the game. Eric Dier was sent free down the right, he then sent the ball in, it was flicked on by Lamela and it dropped at the feet of Danny Rose, in space, who calmly slotted past Mignolet. Game On.
The goal sparked the White Hart Lane crowd into action, and the volume level increased in a bid to spur the lads on to take all three points. But Liverpool’s pace in attack continued to be a problem and Spurs found themselves still spending a lot of time in their own half. In the 82nd minute, Harry Kane was replaced by Josh Onomah, whose first contribution was to win a corner, which Toby Alderweireld unfortunately headed into Row Z.
The game was starting to even out in the dying minutes, with Josh Onomah looking sharp since his introduction.
Liverpool headed off on the counter attack in stoppage time and a last-ditch tackle from Toby Alderweireld prevented the Reds taking all three points. Spurs went up the other end and might’ve won it themselves but for the inexperience of Onomah, clearly overawed at finding himself clean through on goal only to have shown little awareness to his whereabouts in relation to Liverpool’s defensive line, and was flagged offside the moment he touched the ball.
Harry Winks came on to shore up the Spurs midfield and it was clear the game was heading towards a draw. Full time – Spurs 1-1 Liverpool.
Between the sticks –
Michel Vorm: 9/10.
An outstanding game today, showing that despite some past mistakes, on his day he is a more than able deputy for Hugo Lloris. He’s yet to put a foot wrong since his introduction at Goodison Park, and he again looked determined not to let anyone down. He was commanding, quick off his line and made some outstanding saves. He was very unlucky with the penalty, as the event was effectively taken out of his hands.
Kyle Walker: 6/10.
He was decent until illness forced him off the pitch early on.
Danny Rose: 8/10.
Had a great game and took his goal like a seasoned centre forward. Provided some much needed width and pace in Walker’s absence.
Jan Vertonghen: 8/10.
Another decent game from Jan.
Toby Alderweireld: 9/10.
Utterly world class at the back again. Should’ve scored one of his chances really, but we’ll forgiven him after showing shades of Ledley King with his last ditch challenge in the dying minutes.
Eric Dier: 8/10.
Decent game for Eric. He seemed to struggle a bit when moved to full back but he put some good crosses in, one of which of course led to the equaliser.
Victor Wanyama: 8/10.
Another excellent game for Vic, who was unlucky not to win it for us again towards the end.
Christian Eriksen: 6/10.
Hmm…. We all know he can do much better, but it was at least an improvement on last week. Came close with an early free kick.
Dele Alli: 7/10.
Still not back to his match-winning best, but a good performance today.
Erik Lamela: 8/10.
The young argentine has been consistently brilliant of late, and that didn’t change today. Probably should’ve known better than to kick Firmino in our own box though.
Harry Kane: 7/10.
Another quiet game. His record of never scoring in August continues, and he didn’t look much like changing it today. We’ll have to pray that he comes good soon.
Vincent Janssen: 7/10.
Not quite as influential as last week, but he still gets an extra mark or two for his tireless effort and pressing.
Josh Onomah: 7/10.
Looked very bright when he came on, maybe a bit sloppy in possession once or twice and showed his inexperience to not time his run when he was clean through on goal, but that aside, he certainly looks like one for the future.
Harry Winks: N/A.
Came on for literally 30 seconds.
Man of The Match:
Michel Vorm. Outstanding performance from the man between the posts. Deserves much more praise than he receives.
Stoke City away in the Premier League. Saturday 10th September 2016. Kick off at 15:00.