Rollercoaster

Post 63

Liverpool 2 Spurs 2

Spurs somehow contrived to deserve to win yet almost lost, and were grateful at the end for a draw. We gifted them a 1-0 lead, eventually dragged ourselves level, missed a penalty to win it, allowed Salah to dance past 4-5 of our defenders to go 2-1 down in stoppage time (90’ +1) and scored a penalty at the death (90’ +5) for 2-2 and an important point.

It was a rollercoaster of a game that summed this Season up; highs and lows, playing well in bursts, toiling without effect at other times. We managed 66% possession (v 34%), 13 shots (v 9), of which 6 on target (v 3) and 7 corners (to 3). This Season we’ve compiled similar stats in the majority of our PL games but have allowed too many points to slip from our grasp.

Poch started with the same line-up as Wednesday’s versus Man United. But instead of scoring within 11 seconds, we fell behind after 136 seconds. A catalogue of confusion resulted in Dier passing back weakly towards Lloris. Salah helped himself and slotted into the corner. Dier’s mistake but could Hugo have done better? Eric clearly doesn’t like Anfield (he made a big blunder last year too).

Despite the possession stats, Liverpool dominated the first half’s chances. Firmino headed just wide and both Salah and Mane threatened. Meanwhile Kane touched the ball only 10 times in the entire first half. 1-0 was the best we could have hoped for at the break.

But it turned out that Liverpool had shot their wad. The first half had cost them a lot, physically and mentally. Spurs assumed almost total control. Poch hadn’t changed any of our players at the half time but he tweaked the system, allowing Eriksen, Alli and Son to find more space, and Davies in particular to drive up our left flank.

Sanchez was having an off-day. His passing still needs a lot of work. Lamela replaced him after 71 minutes and Dier slotted into the back-4. Spurs pushed on. Son had a great chance to equalise when he was put through on the left but Karius spread himself to block. Wanyama replaced Dembele after 79 minutes. My wife sighed. She’s not a fan of Wanyama’s attacking ability.

Hah. Within a minute Victor had scored one of the 10 goals of the Season, a stunning strike that couldn’t have been placed any closer to crossbar and post, and was still rising at it bulged the net. It was his first touch. Some pundits blame Karius for punching (not catching) Eriksen’s cross but that’s overly harsh. The missus knows her stuff. Victor won’t score many of those in his lifetime!

Now Pool were on the ropes. I was waiting for that Commentator’s Curse. ‘There’s only going to be one winner now’. The kiss of death. But it looked as though we actually would win when Kane was awarded a fortunate penalty. Lucky that he wasn’t given offside. Lucky that the ref considered Karius’s contact with his leg sufficient. I’ve watched and played football for over 50 years. And I’m still not sure of the current offside rule when it comes to a defender (Lovren) skimming the ball backwards. I’m not sure the officials are either.

No matter. Harry ensured justice was done by firing lamely down the middle and Karius saved. At 90 minutes it seemed that 1-1 would be a fair result. But a hopeful long ball from Liverpool resulted in a throw for them on our left flank. Somehow the ball ended up at Salah’s feet and, even more freakishly, it then ended up in Spurs’ net. Whichever members of our defence were made to appear static, it was Lloris who looked silliest of all. Hugo stood small, not tall. Not his best game.

Klopp performed an unpleasant, gloating jig up the touchline. Anfield roared its relief. I don’t blame their fans. But in my opinion a manager should show a bit more class. Klopp is that weird mixture of kinda appealing and intensely annoying. Like his team, you never know what you’re going to get. Jekyll or Hyde.

No matter, again. It turned out that both Klopp and Spurs got their just desserts. We manoeuvred our way into the corner and Trippier hoisted a long throw towards Llorente (who’d come on for Son at 90’ +2) in a clever move by Poch. The ball fell for Lamela and Van Dijk clumsily appeared to hack him down. Jon Moss waved play on but his assistant flagged. Another debate by the officials resulted in another Spurs penalty. This time Kane made no mistake. His 100th PL goal for Spurs. 2-2. On balance, a fair result, a point gained as much as two dropped.

We are 5th on 49 points (P 26 @ 1.88 per game). So we’re currently on target for 71.6 points for the Season, which would be 14-15 points down on last year’s final tally. However, we are actually only 4 points down on where we were after 26 games last Season. So, if we have a similar strong finish, and earn the same 33 pnts from our final 12 matches again, we’d finish on 82 points, enough for – at worst – 3rd place.

Arsenal are 6th (45 points), Chelsea 4th (50 but with tonight’s match away at Watford in hand), Liverpool 3rd (51), Man United 2nd (56) and Man City top (69).

It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.

 

 

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