A young Tottenham Hotspur team battled valiantly but eventually fell to a much stronger Liverpool side, losing 2-1 in the EFL Cup Tuesday night.
Both teams fielded massively changed sides from their fixtures in the league this weekend. Mauricio Pochettino’s side featured mostly fringe squad players, with starts for youngsters like Harry Winks, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Josh Onomah. Eric Dier, the sole regular starter in the lineup, took the captain’s armband for the first time.
Liverpool gave a debut to highly-touted 18-year-old Trent Alexander-Arnold, while another teenager, Ovie Ejaria, made his first start for the club. Still, the home side featured a much more experienced lineup.
And it was one of those veterans who soon broke the deadlock. After just nine minutes, Georges-Kevin N’Koudou slipped and gave the ball away outside the box. Marko Grujić gathered and took a speculative shot, which was deflected directly into the path of Daniel Sturridge, who finished well, though Michel Vorm could maybe have reacted quicker.
Sturridge nearly added a second soon after, his curling effort was headed toward the top corner but for a fine diving stop from the Dutch goalkeeper.
A bunch of stuff (probably) happened over the next 25 minutes, but none of us are exactly sure what it was after beIN Sports’ feed went down.
According to some light Twittering, Spurs did finally test the Liverpool goal after 30 minutes. A cross from the right fell to Vincent Janssen, whose quick shot forced a smart save out of Simon Mignolet.
While the feed from Anfield eventually returned, neither side created any clear cut chances and the half finished at 1-0.
Liverpool came out of the break the stronger side and Sturridge nearly doubled the lead soon after. The striker brilliantly controlled a sharp ball into the box, slipping it between Cameron Carter-Vickers’ legs and very nearly got on the end of it, only to be denied by Vorm’s quick reactions. Carter-Vickers probably/definitely dragged Sturridge back and was fortunate he didn’t go to ground.
With Liverpool increasing the pressure, Pochettino sent Erik Lamela on to replace Tom Carroll on the hour mark, but the hosts soon doubled their lead anyway. Georginio Wijnaldum picked up the ball in the center circle and slid a through ball to Sturridge, who in acres of space, who calmly slotted past Vorm. It was a pretty shocking defensive series, especially from Kevin Wimmer, who stepped up far too late in a poor attempt to play offside.
With Liverpool looking likely to add to their lead, Spurs were gifted a way back into the game. With about 15 minutes to play, Lamela received the ball in the box surrounded by three players. Lucas dove in somewhat rashly, sending the Argentine flailing to the floor. It was a pretty soft penalty to concede, but Janssen didn’t care, confidently thrashing the ball home to cut the lead in half.
Sturridge nearly completed his hat-trick soon after, Vorm getting the slightest touch on a delightful chip to tip it onto the bar.
Though they managed to put Liverpool under pressure, Spurs failed to trouble Mignolet’s goal the rest of the evening, eventually losing 2-1. Losing is never fun, but this is definitely the lowest-priority competition, so Pochettino likely won’t be too broken up about it.
- Carroll was very... not good. He might have been the worst player on the pitch and was subbed off after an hour. With Spurs out of the cup, there’s a decent chance he won’t play again this year and at 24, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he left in search of more playing time soon.
- Wimmer also wasn’t great, perhaps justifying Poche’s decision to leave him out of the matchday squad for most of the season.
- Of the other youngsters, Harry Winks probably did himself the most favors. CCV looked good at times, but looked very 18 years old at others.
- N’Koudou is very fast and looked dangerous at times, but didn’t quite connect with the rest of the attacking band.