It wasn’t a very pretty match, but Tottenham Hotspur got a deserved point against Liverpool today at White Hart Lane in Premier League action. Danny Rose’s strike in the 72nd minute canceled out a first half James Milner penalty, and both teams shared the spoils with a 1-1 result.
Tottenham started the match more or less the same way they started the season against Everton. Vincent Janssen returned to the bench as Dele Alli replaced him in the starting lineup. Victor Wanyama started in the pivot beside Eric Dier, and Michel Vorm replaced the injured Hugo Lloris in goal. Philippe Coutinho made a surprise start for Liverpool in Jurgen Klopp’s 4-3-3 formation alongside Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino in the forward attacking band.
Tottenham started the match brightly, pushing forward, pressing with intensity, and trying to find pockets of space in Liverpool’s defense. However, it wasn’t long before the Reds grew into the match. Liverpool’s game plan was to push forward with pace via their front three of Coutinho, Mane, and Firmino.
Mane gave Spurs all sorts of problems in the first half, and Spurs were saved only through defensive positioning and the exceptional play of Michel Vorm, who made several big stops and was quick to rush off his line to cut out Liverpool counterattacks.
The half changed midway through when Kyle Walker needed to be subbed off. Since Spurs inexplicably didn’t have Kieran Trippier on the bench, Vincent Janssen came on in his place, with Eric Dier moving to right back and Dele Alli pushing back into the pivot beside Wanyama.
After that, the match changed. Liverpool started steamrolling Spurs in midfield, and Tottenham had trouble getting anything going.
Just before halftime, Erik Lamela clipped Coutinho’s heel as he was dribbling into the box, and official Bobby Madley pointed to the spot. James Milner easily competed the penalty, and Liverpool took a 1-0 lead into halftime.
There were no changes at halftime for Spurs, which was to be expected considering the Walker substitution. Unfortunately, that meant that the same problems that plagued Spurs in the first half persisted in the second.
Ten minutes into the second half, Liverpool thought they had scored their second after Mane put the ball in the net on a counterattack, but Adam Lallana was correctly called offside and the goal was called back.
Spurs had difficulty getting anything going but started showing sparks of life at around the 60th minute, with players running the channels and finding pockets of space.
Spurs finally broke through in the 72nd minute through a team goal. Toby Alderweireld had a long pass out of the back that found Eric Dier on the right flank. Dier crossed the ball into the box which was flicked on and fell to Danny Rose, who fired past Mignolet with the outside of his boot to level the score.
The match opened after that, with both teams looking for the match winner. Both teams had chances; Toby Alderweireld had a header on goal that was saved by Mignolet, who had a couple of nice stops. Liverpool continued to threaten on the counter.
Spurs brought on Josh Onomah and Harry Winks (for his Premier League debut!) in the dying moments, while Daniel Sturridge came on for Liverpool late, but in the end neither side could break the deadlock and the match ended 1-1.
- Spurs showed a good fight to come back for the equalizer, but they were on the whole pretty bad today. Passing was off, press was not great after the first ten minutes, and they were susceptible to Liverpool counters through Firmino and Mane.
- When Michel Vorm has to come out and do sweeper-keeper moves several times in the first half, you know your side is having problems. That said, Vorm had an excellent match, staying calm and collected and making a number of key stops. My initial reaction is he’s MOTM.
- Vertonghen had some problems containing Mane early on. He was living right on the razor’s edge for much of the match, but settled in better in the second half.
- The penalty on Lamela was maybe a little soft, but ultimately the right call. He definitely clipped Coutinho’s back heel. Still felt unlucky, though.
- Toby Alderweireld was fantastic today, imperious in defense, distributing the ball out of the back. His long ball that set up the goal was brilliant.
- Danny Rose also had a fine match again today. Good going forward, solid in defense, got the goal.
- Spurs lost the midfield when Walker came off, which makes you wonder why Trippier wasn’t in the side. Eric Dier was okay, but he’s not a right back and Spurs lost a lot of pace down that flank. However, his cross into the box was a good one and led to Rose’s goal, so whatever.
- Eriksen was bad again today, but he looked better in the second half. Progress?
- The biggest takeaway from this was that Spurs still desperately miss Mousa Dembele. Is he the panacea that will cure all of Spurs’ midfield woes? Man, I sure hope so. But hey, Spurs have gotten five points out of nine in his absence, and that’s not shabby. Only one more match...
- Harry Kane still hasn’t scored in August in his Premier League career. Still not worried.
- Finally, it’s so gauche to complain about the officials, but Bobby Madley and his crew were hilaribad today for both sides. Mane should’ve been sent off with about five yellow-card worthy fouls, and Madley and his crew made some atrocious calls (and no-calls) throughout.