BBC BLOGS - Phil McNulty
« Previous | Main | Next »

Have Spurs got nerve for top four?

Post categories:

Phil McNulty | 09:32 UK time, Thursday, 21 January 2010

When Sebastian Bassong prepared to make his grand Anfield entrance only to discover he had forgotten to put his shorts on, Harry Redknapp may just have suspected it was not Tottenham's night.

And so it proved. Quite how Bassong overlooked this crucial item of clothing - think standing at the bar for two hours with a pair of polka-dotted underpants on full display - is as inexplicable as Spurs' performance.

Bassong's team-mates were almost as absent-minded as the startled and shortless defender as they forgot a visit to an under-strength and fragile Liverpool represented the perfect platform to make a powerful statement about their top-four aspirations.

Instead, Spurs froze when presented with the opportunity to exert authority at the expense of one of their closest rivals - allowing doubters to revisit old questions about whether they have the nerve to see the job through.

Harry Redknapp was in sanguine mood while accepting this was one that got away - and Spurs will want to put this single, albeit damaging, defeat in its proper context. They arrived at Anfield on the back of a six-match unbeaten run and with five clean sheets behind them in the Premier League. They stay in fourth place even after this loss.

But other unsavoury statistics are at work and point to the problem Redknapp must solve if Spurs are to bridge the financially rewarding gap between fifth and fourth on a permanent basis.

He will be less concerned about his own miserable managerial record at Anfield, 13 games without a win, than by the fact that it is now 66 league matches since Spurs won at the home of one of the so-called "Big Four".

This was a 2-1 victory at Anfield in 1993 - a victory they never looked like repeating once Dirk Kuyt had profited from sloppy Spurs defending to give Liverpool an early lead. It was a sign of things to come when Alberto Aquilani, a gifted but hardly physically terrifying presence, showed more commitment to fight over a routine long clearance, allowing Kuyt to cash in.

The pre-match huddle is one of the most pointless pieces of posturing in modern sport, and both sides employed it at Anfield. The key difference was that Liverpool came out of theirs with serious intent. Whoever did the talking in the Spurs get-together needs to find a new speech writer.

Liverpool go into a pre-match huddleLiverpool go into a pre-match huddle

Spurs are, without doubt, a gifted and attractive side. They also have players who can mix it on the other side of the game when required and the capability to pick up the golden ticket fourth place brings. They remain flawed, however, despite the optimism engendered by the early months of the season.

And the suspicion lingers that when presented with serious opposition, away from White Hart Lane at least, they are lacking either the self-belief or the nerve to prevail.

When Michael Dawson earned them a draw at Aston Villa in November, their calm and ordered approach made them look every inch serious contenders for the top four - and they remain so, but there are also worrying signs and they were, like Bassong's nether garments, on display for all to see at Anfield.

Take their visits to Arsenal, Chelsea and the Carling Cup tie at Manchester United this season. No serious threat of victory, no goals scored. Is there an inferiority complex at the root of this?

Are Spurs actually convinced that they can go to these grounds and win? Not on Wednesday night's evidence, and yet they should have kicked off at Anfield almost overwhelmed by the belief that they could end this barren run.

There should have been no inferiority complex at Liverpool, and yet another concern for Redknapp was the grim truth that Spurs missed Aaron Lennon more than Liverpool missed Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard.

Redknapp was right to highlight Jermain Defoe's disallowed goal - apparently ruled out in the maze of offside regulations that would have made the score 1-1 - but it was not a complaint he made with true conviction. He knew Spurs got their true reward at Anfield.

Spurs had spells of possession but little threat. Liverpool should have wrapped up a confidence-bolstering three points long before Kuyt scored a twice-taken penalty in stoppage time after Bassong was caught with his trousers down (sorry) and resorted to a clumsy flattening of David Ngog.

It was frustrating viewing for the Spurs fans inside Anfield. The pretty passing is all very well, but they rarely laid a glove on Liverpool, who showed more hunger and desire and now, despite all their trauma, stand only a point behind Spurs.

When real urgency was required, it never came, a mystery given the unquestionable quality wrapped within Redknapp's team.

For Rafael Benitez it was respite. Indeed, if they could have hung on for victory at Stoke City on Saturday, it would have represented quite a recovery from the FA Cup defeat at home to Reading.

Jenas and Defoe discuss what went wrong at AnfieldJenas and Defoe discuss what went wrong at Anfield

This was hardly classic Liverpool. How could it be when they were stripped of the creative forces of Torres, Gerrard and Yossi Benayoun? But they showed more stomach for the fight and the tackle than Spurs. To put it simply, they had a right go - something they could never be accused of amid the Reading debacle.

And in stand-in captain Jamie Carragher, they had the leader they required. No sulking or self-pity at Liverpool's plight, simply a fierce will to contest every ball, occasionally with over-exuberance, and a determination to set the tone for his team-mates.

If you were searching for the perfect example of the requirements of a captain's performance, this was it. Manic at times, but with the level of passion Liverpool require in troubled times.

Benitez will also have been heartened by public support from The Kop and co-owner George Gillett, although the American's description of their struggles as "a blip" shows just how far removed he is from reality and the true expectations of Anfield.

When quizzed about what his team had learned from defeat, Redknapp candidly admitted: "I don't know what they have learned. They are all experienced, international players."

He was in no mood to disagree when I asked him whether this was a huge opportunity that had been squandered, saying: "When you see Liverpool are without Gerrard, Torres, Glen Johnson and Benayoun you have got to think we will never have a better opportunity.

"We missed Lennon, the one player who can carry the game at pace, but they had a lot of key players out and it was a great opportunity for us - one we missed I'm afraid."

Spurs are a fine side, a potential top-four side, but taking these chances when they present themselves is almost as much of a pre-requisite as putting your shorts on when you have the ambitions Redknapp has at White Hart Lane.

You can follow me throughout this season at and join me on Facebook.


Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    Spurs definitely let themselves down last night and squandered a golden opportunity. I can't understand why such an attractive-playing team like Spurs still revert to lumping the ball up to Crouch everytime they're away from home and up against a top team - play to your stengths and get the ball on the deck. Surely Redknapp and his coaches tell the players that before they go out and play, surely they don't even need to cos as Redknapp says, they're all experienced international footballers.

    I really hope Spurs crack the top 4, I really do, but in the one season where it's conceivable that the normal "top 4" is broken up, it may be City now that pips them to the post, simply because City seem to have the belief to do it, rather than more talent.

    Come on Spurs, grow a couple and stop letting golden opportunities pass you by.

  • Comment number 3.

    It was a thoroughly enjoyable game (from a Liverpool perspective) - the fight that was evident in the away draw at Stoke was carried over, even bettered, against Spurs and, without our so-called two man team (as well as missing Yossi, Johnson, Agger, to name three more nailed-on starters) deservedly got the better of a top-4 challenger.

    Carragher was immense, underlining the fact that he is far from finished (a prediction I am happy to admit I was completely wrong about) and, as you rightly allude to, is the REAL captain of this Liverpool side, Kyrgiakos is looking an absolute steal at £1.5m and yet another player putting the lie to the media assertion that Rafa is hopeless in the cheaper end of the market (Reina, Skrtel, Agger, Aurelio, etc).

    Spurs were not at the races, fair do's, but if they have serious ambitions to be a top-4 side - and £200m in two years surely suggests the minimum expectation - then they have to come to the likes of Anfield and not completely capitulate, especially against, as you say, a fragile Liverpool missing half its regulars.

    That they cannot do that says everything.

    And one point away from fourth in an absolute mare of a season ravaged by injuries and ill-fortune? Crisis, what crisis.

  • Comment number 4.

    "Redknapp was right to highlight Jermain Defoe's disallowed goal"

    It wasn't a disallowed goal! The whistle went before the ball was in the net. It would have been a disallowed goal had the ref not blown then after consultation with his assissant ruled the gail out. A wee bit pedantic of me but none the less accurate, no?

    Nice thinly-veiled dig at Gerrard there Phil with absolutely no foundation at all.

    All in all agree with the fact that this was a good chance for Spurs with four of Liverpool's top players missing.

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi Phil,
    There's a lot of comment here but not much insight. Saying Spurs don't have the mettle for the fight or that they don't have what it takes to step up to the big teams is a little bit old hat. That record of 66 games without an away win is a pretty meaningless statistic as the team of now bears no relationship to the team from 2006, let alone 1996 or 1993.

    The problem last night was not the mental approach of the players, it was the tactical set-up that Redknapp employed. The side had no width and very little pace which made their build-up laboured and studious without any incision. They lacked Lennon's cracker-jack spontaneity in a big way, basically. Liverpool, to their credit, took full advantage and pressed Spurs brilliantly so that they could create very little. Individually, most of the Spurs players did what you would expect of them - passing it comfortably, Crouch winning headers, Palacios hustling - but there was no one to do the other part, to do the damage.

    The point being that this wasn't some kind of endemic psychological problem, it was a tactical error on Redknapp's behalf and an inability to replace Lennon.

  • Comment number 6.


  • Comment number 7.

    Didn’t see the game as I was busy watching my team choking on the other channel till decisions and stupidity went in their favour but Spurs, Villa and City all seem to be lacking the mental strength required rather than the ability. All 3 have more depth in their squad than Liverpool yet when the opportunity has presented itself they have not taken it.

    At this rate come April when bottoms are squeaking they’ll be falling over themselves to drop points!

    I’ve said it before, I can see a huge anti-climax coming with Liverpool finally finding the higher gears and moving into fourth and we’ll all wonder what the fuss was about unless City spend big (possible), Spurs get tough (less possible) and Villa find a goalscorer (here’s hoping but not in their current squad)

  • Comment number 8.

    "And one point away from fourth in an absolute mare of a season ravaged by injuries..."
    Good point, one which is conveniently overlooked by journos and pundits but not it seems when injuries affect Utd, Everton and Arsenal.

    Liverpool have had a very poor season so far, there's no doubting that. But occasionally some of the compounding factors should be taken into account.

    It wasn't difficult to spot that Spurs missed players last night, despite spending how many millions in the past few seasons.

  • Comment number 9.

    I'm a Manchester United fan, so would obviously love to see anyone bar City and Liverpool make the top four, but on recent performances from Spurs I just can't see it happening. I agree with you about spurs being a talented side, but they need to show more desire and hunger to win these types of games. I wouldn't be suprised if the top four teams this season resembled the top four of last year. Despite all the hype surrounding Liverpool, they have only the Europa Cup and the Premier League to concentrate on now, I predict City/Liverpool will take the 4th and 5th places, with Villa stealing 6th.

  • Comment number 10.

    spurs would have had a better chance of winning if this game had been played on the original date 10 days earlier, when liverpool cried off because of some snow (allegedly) and were REALLY in disarray after the reading loss

    since then they have had the opportunity to regroup, so when harry talks of missed opportunities, he really means if this game had been played on the original date

  • Comment number 11.

    "The pre-match huddle is one of the most pointless pieces of posturing in modern sport, and both sides employed it at Anfield."

    HA! Classic McNulty. He knows best, tell me Phil, how many huddles have you been involved in, in modern sport, to come to this conclusion? Do you really know if it has an adverse or postive effect on the team? What utter drivel.

    I suggest you and your fellow bbc sports writers have a wee huddle before wiritng one of your blogs. Might help? No? Didnt think so.

    Disappointing night for the Spurs, still impossible to decide who will finish 4th. Wouldnt be surprised whatsoever if it does infact end up Liverpool after all and Rafa gets a new 10-year deal.

  • Comment number 12.

    For me, - a United fan who would have loved to see Spurs role over Liverpool yesterday, their performance epitomised why I feel they fall short of fourth spot. five games now against the so called 'established top 4' they have been beaten in all of them but one, - convincly as well.

    This might win the prize for stating the blatant obvious, but 3 points from a possible 15 is certainly nowhere near a good enough return.

    Liverpool have thrown away more 1-0 leads than enough this season, but Spurs apart from a brief flourish at the start of the second half, - a period in the game Liverpool have been most susceptible in this season, most recentkly in the Arsenal game, didn't really look like scoring.

    Liverpool - to their credit, managed to steady themselves and for the last 15 minutes, - when you would expect Spurs to be commiting players forward going hell for leather, they only looked like adding to their lead, which they eventually did, - justifiably as well, giving the scoreline a much fairer reflection.

    Turning point for the game for me however, Defoe's goal. For me, it should be given. Once Defoe has gone back on side, the second phase has begun (or more appropriately the first phase is over), so what has happended prior to this no longer affects the game, and has the same entitlement to go for the ball as any other Spurs player. If that had have gone in, (which it did, - but registered as a goal) I feel Spurs would have been in the ascendancy and may have even gone on to win the game, as Liverpool would be thinking here we go again, - and who could blame them.

    To Answer the question have Spurs got the nerve for top four I would say no, and nor in my opinion do Aston Villa (who I recently tipped for fourth), although I will probably have changed my mind on this by the end of the week. No one seems to be able to grasp 4th by the scruff of the neck, and really stake their claim for 4th, as has been backed up by events of recent weeks. In my view now I would favour Liverpool or City. Liverpool must be thanking their lucky stars their in this position, because they've been absolutely rubbish, and if either City, Spurs or Villa, had been able to get their act in to gear (on a consistent basis, could thearetically be about 10 points clear).

    Time will tell, but I am certainly swaying towards City and Liverpool, which as a United fan, I wouldn't say unless I really felt it!

  • Comment number 13.

    I think this just proves how difficult it is to break into the top four, even with a clearly superior side. Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and United have been there for so long with only one breach (Everton, 2005) in the last few years that it has to be hard to maintain focus - especially when Spurs were probably favourites to at least get a draw yesterday.

    That said, with the exception of the loss to Reading, Liverpool look to be improving. Ten points from four league matches including two crucial wins over other teams trying to get fourth spot. Spurs and Villa are not out of the running by any means, but I think either Liverpool or Man City will ultimately get that last Champions League place. In fact, I don't see why they can't still challenge for the title (though I don't think either can win it, too inconsistent) with the teams above them all dropping a few more points than usual this season. This could be a cracker.

  • Comment number 14.

    for a start defoes' goal should have stood. he did not pressure the defender when he was offside. he was offside when the ball was passed forward. He did not chase it down, he trotted back onside and then proceeded to pressure the ball, the defender then passed it back to Reina, who was then pressured by Defoe who robbed him off of it and scored. Plenty of strikers have scored in very similar circumstances.
    Crouch should have had two penalties, one when having his shirt tugged by Kyriakos and secondly when he was tripped by Carragher which was given offside to Defoe when he wasnt offside.
    Regardless i'm not writing this to bitch about the injustices, Liverpool fought extremely hard and deserved the points. What i'm peeved about is the complete lack of urgency and drive in this Spurs team, we wont finished fourth because we dont have the stomach for it. We need someone of the drive and mentality we had when Edgar Davids was in the team, basically a winner.

  • Comment number 15.

    13. At 12:51pm on 21 Jan 2010, BulletMonkey wrote:
    I think this just proves how difficult it is to break into the top four, even with a clearly superior side.

    are you saying there is some mystic force, and that Spurs are better than Liverpool but being held back by...

  • Comment number 16.

    Well I watched the match last night expecting the worst, because as everyones pointed out, we were lacking our 3 top players as well as several other starters and were playing in my opinion the top challenger for 4th spot. However, for one of the rare times this season I was pleased with what I saw. Ok, we were a long way from the creative team of last season, but the determination and fight shown be the players is what ive been wanting to see from liverpool all season!
    Hopefully we can build on this, because unfortunatley every time liverpool have picked up a good win in this year they've failed to build on it. Will probably be a rough few weeks with so many players out but I hope the other players in the squad can step up to the challenge and get some good results in the bag.

  • Comment number 17.

    It isnt about nerve - its about depth of squad and spurs dont have it yet - Bale was awful and Jenas was weak - and the real spark of our season, Lennon, was sorely missed.

    Top 4 unlikely I think.

  • Comment number 18.

    I am a passionate Tottenham fan, who can ususally shrug off a Spurs defeat quickly. However, last night's game against Liverpool was not so easy to shake off. The many 'false dawns' that Tottenham supporters have suffered over the last 20 years is wearing a bit thin.

    This was truely the moment for Spurs to take that final step to becoming the top, top side that they should be. It was an appointment with destiny. Some may say that they are still 4th after the defeat, but the significance of the result goes deeper than that.

    When the big test came, the chance to really stamp their owership of fourth place, they froze. A very average Liverpool side played the same way that Hull, Stoke, and Wolves played at White Hart Lane this season, but with more vigour. On their own turf, Liverpool set up to defend and take Spurs on the break, they were that scared of losing. They closed Tottenham down all over the pitch, and bullied Tottenham out of the game.

    Before the match, I really though Tottenham were going to win. I had expected them to go for the throat, with a fast atacking passing game and movement that is their forte. From the first whistle, they were slow, cautious and were second to every ball.

    Sadly, I think King should not have played. He has been a truely golden footballer, the best central defender of his generation. Ever since Fabragas swept past him to score in the defeat at Arsenal, he has been fast on the downslope of his career. Further evidence of this was apparent last night.

    Jermain Jenas, was also a poor choice. This engine and work rate is astonishing, but he is a hinderance to Spurs, rather than a contributor. He should be covering for the more creative talents to shine, rather than have them cover for him. In effect, he stops tottenham playing.

    Most of all there was a lack of belief that Spurs could take the final step. This maybe as a result of the countless times before that this has happened. However, this false dawn was so much closer to a reality than all those before. Touching distance, you could almost taste it.

    How Spurs react across the next few games is key now to whether they can psycologically turn this defeat into the gold of never letting themsleves down ever again. I have my doubts, but that's not important. What is important is that they do not.

  • Comment number 19.

    "The pre-match huddle is one of the most pointless pieces of posturing in modern sport, and both sides employed it at Anfield."

    What a ridiculously sweeping statement to make.

    The huddle is as significant as the meaning it has for and the effect it has on the players.

    If it was one last chance for Carragher to say a few words to his team—with the supportive Anfield crowd as the backdrop—in order to harness the focus of all the players, and it functioned as intended, it is clearly more than just posturing.

    When I read comments like this, I'm not surprised by the lack of appreciation for the psychological aspect in English football.

  • Comment number 20.

    The simple fact is that last night’s loss at Liverpool has no relevance on our attempt to crack the top 4.

    Our aspirations to join the Premier League’s elite were hampered weeks ago. The simple fact is that if we had not lost at home to Stoke, not lost at home to Wolves and managed to beat a Wolves side at White Hart Lane, as well as not throwing away our 2-goal lead at Goodison Park earlier in the season, we would have an extra 10 points on the board, which says it all.

    Whoever finishes in 4th place will have achieved this by consistently beating the teams beneath them, not hinging all of their season an away match at Anfield. Spurs have played some great football this season and had some great results, but need to kill more games off against smaller teams if we are to grasp the holy grail that is fourth place.

  • Comment number 21.

    Spurs biggest problem last night was a lack of width. Kranjcaer and Modric both constantly went inside leaving Spurs very narrow. While Bale and Corluka tried their best to get forward they were constantly pinned back by Riera and Degen.

  • Comment number 22.

    Never mind the top 4, its Spurs home results against Wolves, Stoke, and now Hull that has cost them - 8 points lost in just those 3 games !
    Its quite possible to finish in the top 4 without taking a single point off the other 3 teams away from home, its consistency against the rest that counts.

  • Comment number 23.

    There were a great many decisions in that game that went Liverpool's way. Mascherano's first tackle should have earned him a card, Crouch penalised for having his shirt pulled, etc etc etc...

    However, we just weren't good enough.

    It's the hope that kills you.

  • Comment number 24.

    It is the main oddity of this season for Spurs - they look so strong against other sides but when it's one of the most recent 'Big Four' they just seem cowed.

    It's understandable, it's the same problem other teams hoping for those top spots like Villa and Man City have had. But until that mental inferiority complex is overcome, the Big Four will remain the Big Four.

  • Comment number 25.

    Phil, I think Liverpool haven't had a disastrous season. They over achieved last season. I'm sure that they will get the forth spot just because as you have pointed out the other 3 teams in the running just keep stumbling over each other.

    I agree that the huddle is a complete waste of time as what was said in the dressing room a few minutes before should still be there. It was a poor performance by Spurs and I think they missed Lennon badly.

    I still think it was a goal by Defoe. Yes he was offside when it was kicked but the defender had the ball for a good few seconds before Defoe went to challenge him and he did a sloppy back pass that should have resulted in a goal. But this is what you get with a stupid offside rule.

    I thought the hole game was very poor as well and Carragher is still a very dirty player who should have been given a yellow card for bad tackles. In hindsight I should have watched the Villa match instead.

  • Comment number 26.

    So Phil.... Does this mean Liverpool are back on for the Top 4?

    It seems each game is being scrutinised as if "the season has ended now".

    I am a Manchester City fan and am starting to get a little sick of each and every "journalist" summing up the teams from 4th to 7th's each time they play ! LIVERPOOL, SPURS, VILLA and MY BELOVED CITY.

    Can we have somthing different along the lines of the relegation battle just for a change.


  • Comment number 27.

    That was a massive game last night in terms of "who makes the top 4."

    And while Liverpool invariably lift themselves for such games, Spurs always bottle it.

    That was as good a chance as they've had in decades to beat Liverpool at Anfield and they just didn't show up. Modric was anonymous and Bale is a one man disaster zone.

    A word on the "offside" goal - that was a scandalous decision that should have the ref and linesman back to doing non league games.

  • Comment number 28.

    Fact is, Spurs are an above average side and their ambition should lie in winning the UEFA cup (if it's good enough for Liverpool..... i jest) but they are as much a top 6 side as a top 3 side. No doubt they have quality (spending a lot of money will get you that) but looking through the squad how many players are champions league quality? Maybe Defoe (hardly tested at the highest level). I think you'll find spurs behind Man City, Villa, Liverpool and perhaps Everton come the end of the season. And unless Harry goes and spends another £100m on ex players i can't see them finishing better next season.

  • Comment number 29.

    Phil, I don't know which match you were watching, but not for the first time your analysis is completely off the mark.
    Possession doesn't mean quality, and from where I was sitting, Spurs seemed to dominate much of the game in terms of going forward. Defoe's goal should never have been disallowed, and the penalty shout by Crouch was as certain as the one that was given to Liverpool.
    How can Liverpool expect to regain their top four spot playing 4-5-1 at home? Especially with a midfield comprising of two full backs, a worse than average Brazilian, a crocked Italian and a thug?
    I completely respect Howard Webb as a referee, but this was one of most inconsistent performances of his that I've seen. Not always favouring one team, but when it mattered, he lost his bottle. How Mascherano didn't get booked in the first half for at least one of his four late challenges, I'll never know.
    The issue here is not whether Spurs have the nerve for the top four, which I honestly believe they do, it's about referees having the nerve to give decisions against the home teams under pressure from fans, which, apparently, none of them have.
    Get your act together, and talk about the real issues surrounding the state of our beloved game, not some flim-flam half-baked opinion piece about a team you (based on previous blogs) have clearly never liked.

  • Comment number 30.

    Another Club coming out of the wordwork chasing pompey today? That must be covered at some point?

    No, ok then ! I will

    Udinese have joined Sol Campbell in asking for money owed by Pompey. Is it me but do all clubs owe money to other football clubs as very few ;-) and I mean very few "erhem" MCFC have the cast up front to pay for players in full.

    When are we going to ge tthe real football stories instead of another 4th v 6th PL game yawnnnnnnn !

  • Comment number 31.

    Liverpool were bound to win last night, it was their 'must-win' game. Ours wasn't a must-win game but it would have been nice to have gotten a result. Phil you seem to neglect the fact that Spurs thoroughly outplayed Liverpool in the opposite fixture in the first game of the season. Spurs are still in a good position, and Spurs have a history of playing better as the season winds on, and I've no doubt that they still have the nerve to break the top 4. Liverpool played well last night, but did you expect anything else? People were saying this was the best time to play them - absolutely not! This was the worst time to play them as they needed that win. Rafa needed that, it was plain obvious to me even before the game that we would struggle to get anything out of the game because of the situation at Liverpool.

    This game has no bearing on either sides fortunes for the rest of the season. For Spurs a loss at Liverpool is no big, or at any of the top 4's parks, what matters is getting the results everywhere else and picking up the points that our rivals will drop, including Liverpool. I don't see this as a turning point for them, unfortunately.

  • Comment number 32.

    Tottenham's chairman must be the most patient person around. For the last 5 seasons spurs have been spending quite a bit of money. Substantially more than arsenal. Yet they dont have much to show for it, except a carling cup.

    When do u guys think he will lose patience and say it...sod it!!! I am pulling out...We are never going to be good enough to get into the top four.

  • Comment number 33.

    Hi Phil,

    I was at Anfield last night, and one thing that you forgot to mention was the atmosphere. It was ELECTRIC. I have experienced atmospheres like that only in Champions League knock out stages at Anfield, never in a league match. Also, the crowds public support for Rafa was evident. I think we need to give credit where it's due, Rafa got it right this time.

    It was more that Rafa got it right, rather than Spurs and Redknapp got it wrong. We should've rapped this game up by 3-4 goals had Degen and Kuyt not been so wasteful in front of goal, but 2-0 will do. The Spurs creative Croatian axis of Kranjcar and Modric was useless faced with the determined and disciplined Liverpool rear guard. Also Kyrgiakos did extremely well faced with the threat of Crouch.

    However, I still believe that the fight for the top 4 will continue until the end of the season and Spurs will have a big say on who finishes 4th.

    Us Liverpool fans need to put this win into prospective. It means absolutely NOTHING if we go to Wolves next week and end up without 3 points.

  • Comment number 34.

    As has been remarked Spurs lack wide players, Lennon aside. They have a decent squad and a collection of strikers to rival any other team in the premier league, but still seem to have a lack of balance that no manager seems able or willing to address, surprising given how obvious it is.

    Whether you have Crouch and Defoe up front or not, if your creative midfielders all want to play central, and don't have the discipline to stay out wide, then it just makes it so easy for a team like Liverpool (who seemed to recover some organisation and capability, Carragher much better than he has been) to snuff out the threat

    Whats the betting on another central midfielder in the summer?

  • Comment number 35.

    Regarding nlygo's comment about the real missed opportunity was that the game was re-arranged and therefore Spurs couldn't take advantage of Liverpool's defeat at Reading........the Liverpool defeat was actually AFTER the original scheduled date and Liverpool would have had Torres, Gerrard and Beni fit and available.......don't think your comments stack up !

  • Comment number 36.

    I thought that Spurs clearly should have had a goal for Defoe's 'offside' effort, and a penalty for the shirt pull on Crouch, which was blatant. Even if he didn't give that penalty and allowed play to go on the ball was pretty much at Defoe's feet in the 6 yard box, but he made completely the wrong decision.

    Webb's performance was very poor. Besides those two moments he let Mascherano get away with 4 late challenges before booking him whilst Carragher was able to commit 2 yellow card offences in the space of 5 seconds without a word, yet Jenas and Bale went in the book for their first offences. Not sure what exactly Palacios was booked for either.

    That said it was a poor performance from Spurs, who had lots of possession but no impact. I actually thought Bale had a good game, but our midfield didn't do enough and Jenas was poor besides one shot (I'd have preferred the hard work of O'Hara, or putting Modric in there instead and someone pacey on the wing). Defoe was anonymous besides his goal.

    Phil's right though, our team needs mental strength i.e. hard work, not giving up, belief that we can win and commitment.

  • Comment number 37.

    To captainlazytim, Bhoycie06 and Now I Have A BBC iD...never see what the huddle brings. What can be said that presumably hasn't already been said in the build-up to the game and in the dressing room? And you would hope elite professional sportsmen do not need a few more words of reassurance to ensure they are fully inspired. Can't stand the huddle to be honest.

    I do not recall the great Man Utd and Liverpool teams of the past and recent past ever getting into a little huddle before kick-off and it didn't harm them.

    To Scottishscouser...I presume you are referring to my remarks about Carragher's captaincy as a thinly-veiled dig at Gerrard. I was simply referring to Carragher's performance as captain and player last night. Immense. I am forever being criticised on here for praising Gerrard too much - do you think he has been sulking this season?

    Jermaine Jenas has been picked out for criticism by some on here and I agree with them - as did quite a few Spurs fans at Anfield last night by the sound of it. If anyone summed up the Spurs lack of urgency it was Jenas. He has ability, but I am starting to wonder if he will ever fulfil the early potential he showed at Nottingham Forest. Disappointing.

  • Comment number 38.

    Re Post 30 of mine

    CITY have the CASH not CAST (although the CAST is our squad!) but I meant CASH, just for all you spellcheckers out there. I notice the journo gets it in the neck for bad spelling so I must apologise now.

    Oh look at that.... in other news Pompey have to find £11.25Million asap or risk going out of business before the HMRC hearing (shock!)

    Utd debt now at 716 Million ! Ant And Dec win two more TV awards....

    Oh yeah Villa are in a major final again !!

    But Spurs V Liverpool will determine 4th place with 16 games to go !!


  • Comment number 39.

    Can any Spurs fan tell me why Bale was in the side!!!! If I had known that I would have been straight down the bookies to put my house on a Liverpool win. Whenever he has started Spurs have never won and looking at his performance I can understand why that is the case.

  • Comment number 40.

    The last time Spurs beat their neighbours Arsenal in the league was over 10 years ago on 7 November 1999.

    I would suggest that they have a long way to go to become a top four team.

  • Comment number 41.

    I think what the result really shows is that Redknapp is no where near as highly rated a manager as he, or his darling media would have you believe.

    Has he REALLY done that good a job at Spurs? He's spent in the region of £60m since he took over and you'd have to be a pretty abysmal manager not to see some sign of success after spending that much.

    Redknapp is one of the most overrated bosses in English football.

  • Comment number 42.


    When did the Carling Cup become a major final?

    The top 4 don't join the competition until the last 32 and even then they tend to put out a mostly second string team until they think they have a chance of winning it.

  • Comment number 43.

    i have to say having been at the match last night i was suprised how poor spurs were all they seemed to do was try and hoof the ball up to crouch at every chance dawson was there best player for me.

    and as a liverpool fan i was surpised that defoes goal didnt stand i still dont no what silly part of the offside rule disallowed it and what the hell that silly greek was doing!!

    Overall liverpool deserved the win kuyt could and maybe should of had a hatrick we played with more passion ( its been a while ) i was disappointed tho glad that spurs had a off night

    quick question for you phil were doing see maxi fitting in liverpool's system do you think he's a replacement for ryan babel or just another squad memember ???

    but theres a long way to go for both teams

  • Comment number 44.

    #42 Hello Keith

    My point is not about the Carling Cup being a major final or not. If you had read my other posts it was merely highlighting the fact that Mr McNulty only focusses on 4th to 7th in the Premier League !

    Villa deserved some recognition for another major final appearance.

    That's all !

  • Comment number 45.

    "Alberto Aquilani, a gifted but hardly physically terrifying presence":

    A bit like Xavi or Fabregas? I know you weren't meaning to be complimentary but I'll take it that you are measuring the Italian in the same class as those two. (I personally dont at the moment but who knows)

    Phil- You'll be surprised to hear no doubt that I'm not amazed that you are blaming Spurs' ineptitude rather than lauding a stout hearted Liverpool performance shorn of the talents of Torres Gerrard Benayoun and Johnson.
    This was a Club performance. The Manager backed by the professionalism of his players and the enthusiasm of the Liverpool faithful. Good Lord, we also had supportive words from one of our owners before the match.

    We now lay one point behind forth place after a disaster of a year. Benitez will survive the scurrilous English press corps attempt to have him fired and he will go on to be a success at our club.

  • Comment number 46.

    Just a thought to add - my favourite Spurs formation would be a 4-1-2-1-2 diamond with the ideal team being:
    Corluka / Dawson / Bassong / Akotto
    Lennon / Kranjcar
    Modric (central attacking midfeild)
    Defoe / Crouch

    Last night, I would have played Rose for Lennon

    What do others think?

  • Comment number 47.

    nlygo The original game was scheduled between the original game against Reading and before the replay so we would have had Gerrard, Torres and Benayoun and you think spurs would have had a better chance of beating Liverpool with those players? Torres would have buried the chances that Kuyt missed you're deluded.

    Spurs can't cut the mustard when it counts I'm just waiting for this season's excuse maybe it will be a dodgy fish and chips instead of lasagne!!!

  • Comment number 48.

    genuinely dont know how anyone thinks we will make top 4 (spurs). we are so pathetic when we play "bigger teams". we just roll over. liverpool were there for the taking before the match and nearly every spurs fan could have guaranteed we would turn up, roll over and get beaten. like when we played arsenal, and chelsea and utd in the cup.

    there is a reason we haven't won away at a top 4 club in something like 90 games - the mental strength is non existant. exactly the same when we play arsenal away. we are beaten before a ball is kicked. if redknapp genuinely thinks we should be aiming for top 4, he has to instill something that's been missing for 20 years. We simply don't believe we can win big away games any more. we have class players all over the pitch but some (hello jermaine jenas) simply dont have the balls to take games by the scruff of the neck away from home.

  • Comment number 49.

    "On their own turf, Liverpool set up to defend and take Spurs on the break, they were that scared of losing."

    I think you're misreading Rafa's tactics. The aim was to sit back so Defoe didn't have space to run into, defend close to Krancjar and Modric while Riera and Degen kept Bale and Corluka in their own half (and therefore taking away much of the service and width which allows Modric and Krancjar to cut inside). Another by-product of this tactic was space for Aquilani. We were defensive, but it wasn't ten men behind the ball style defence, it was a coordinated effort. Which paid off. Like someone said earlier, credit where credit's due Rafa did a good job (even if Webb did help us somewhat, awful performance, he didn't even allow extra injury time for the two penalties and celebration, but then Messrs Mason and Dowd have dealt us worse performances this season so I'm not too sorry about it).

    Anyway, I'm more optimistic today than I was after the Everton and Utd games because this was a game where many of the support cast really put on strong individual performances. If Rafa can keep them motivated we've got a good squad. Degen, Insua, Kyrg, Aquilani, Riera and N'Gog had really positive games, even Maxi and Darby - in their cameos - were involved in a good move which led to the penalty. I'm proud of them today. Let's keep it up! Wolves will not give us the space in their half, so we need pace and invention to get at them early!

  • Comment number 50.

    "How can Liverpool expect to regain their top four spot playing 4-5-1 at home? Especially with a midfield comprising of two full backs, a worse than average Brazilian, a crocked Italian and a thug?"

    Still beat you though didn't they?

  • Comment number 51.

    And well done Villa, I hope you go on and win it. I watched it during the half time break and caught four goals! Three of them were quality, great footwork by Heskey (until the dodgy finish).

  • Comment number 52.

    Have Spurs got the nerve for the Top 4?

    Firstly the Champions League Qualifying Spot (4th) or "The race for 4th" does not interest me at all. Finishing as high as possible interests me and winning the league interests me. Qualifying for a devalued European Cup, where the height of the advertising boards are more important than the Season Ticket Holders in the 1st couple of rows, says everyting about modern day football. Add to this my season ticket cost would go through the roof and you may begin to understand my cautious approach. Champions League would suit the legions of 'armchair' Spurs fans, as it would not be them trekking to the Ukraine on a Weds night.

    I was at Anfield last night and there is no doubt whilst Spurs did not create as much as we have been doing (even against Hull we had 18 shots on target), we did move the ball well (better than Liverpool) at times and had we quite rightly been awarded the penalty for the foul on Crouch and had Defoe's goal rightly allowed we could be having the discussion today "Have Liverpool got the nerve for the Top 4?"

    Football is about small margins and large slices of luck. Whilst I will be the 1st to admit Spurs very often contribute to their own downfall and bad luck over the years, one thing about last night and last April's 5-2 defeat at Old Trafford that has been overlooked is - HOWARD WEBB.

    This is supposedly the best referee England can offer for the 'Big Games'? He is an awful referee. He got the decision for the penalty (Crouch not Ngog) wrong, the decision for the Defoe goal wrong and the decision for the Jenas booking wrong. He got the penalty decison involving Gomes at Old Trafford (when we were 2-0) wrong. The smugness on this blokes face whilst all this is happening is unbelievable. This is a contributing factor to why we fail against Man Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal & Chelsea but not the answer.

    In my opinion Spurs play this horrendous 'record' of not beating these teams away from home (since 1993, 1991 or 1989) rather than play the team that is in front of them. The Carling Cup Tie at Old Trafford this season against a mediocre Man Utd side a prime example.

    We need to get tougher and a bit more street wise. Likewise if/when the bad refereeing decison goes against us (which inevitably it will) we must not collapse like a deck of cards (5-2 at Old Trafford for example) and still have the belief that we are as good as the opposition.

    So to conclude I am saying nerve, concentration, luck and self belief will determine Spurs league finish.

    16 games to go to prove me right or wrong??? Come on you Spurs!

  • Comment number 53.

    It's easy to see that spurs lack leadership. Robbie Keane is probably the only leader they have. The players attitude is also in doubt for me.

    Peter Schemichel (spelling?) was on the Soccer AM program and he mentioned that looking back to after he left ManUtd, he was frustrated at the mentality of his other clubs (in comparison with Utds).

    I am NOT a Utd fan (in fact, I hate 'em and particularly their fans:)) but you can't argue that they seem to have a strong mental attitude. This could be due to Fergie and their senior players passing on their experiences. I think only Chelsea, Liverpool (not including this season) and the old Arsenal team have demonstrated this mentality.

    Having said that, spurs still have a chance for 4th spot. The champions will be Chelsea or ManUtd (please let it be chelsea!) Arsenal are going to be 3rd. City are my favs for 4th, only just ahead of spurs, pool and villa (not sure which order).

  • Comment number 54.


    I think it is funny how the predictions for who will finish 4th change with every game. There are a lot of games left and I suspect Tottenham will be tipped to get that lucrative spot every 3rd week.

    I also hear a lot of fans, when chasing a game, figure that throwing on an extra striker is the answer and Redknapp must have listened to too many of them. The truth is that strikers can't score without the ball and midfielders get them the ball. Tottenham looked like scoring until Keane came on and after that (by no fault of Keane) it was Liverpool who were pressing a got a deserved goal.

  • Comment number 55.


    I despair at your choice of feature....

    You happily wrote Arsenal off after their home defeat to Chelsea, something that you had obviously been writing since the start of the season when you first predicted their failure. But last night, aside for Tottenham prooving that they have neither the ability nor the gumption to break into the top 4, Arsenal proved all of the doubters wrong and returned to the top of the Premier League with a scintillating performance. Yet you choose to write about Tottenham rather than eat humble pie?

    I'm under no illusion that we are now likely to lift the title, but they have had a fantastic 6 weeks so credit where it's due.

    Or did no other journalist write a piece with that slant that you could copy?

  • Comment number 56.

    The Spurs performance was frankly embarrassing.

    It should have been more than 2 nil, Crouchie was played off the park by Kyriakos, we lacked penetration/cutting edge and were bullied out of the game by a team missing their two real world class talents.

    Gutted that we did not take advantage of an opportunity to ram home how much we have improved under Redknapp against a Liverpool team at their lowest ebb for years... Very disappointing.

  • Comment number 57.

    "Spurs missed Aaron Lennon more than Liverpool missed Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard".

    Can we expect the Media to bleat on and on about Spurs being a one-man team from now on? No, didn't think so.

    What a rubbish article and more fool me for reading it.

  • Comment number 58.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 59.

    Some good points about a lack of natural width in the Spurs team when Aaron Lennon is missing. I wonder what Spurs fans think is Luka Modric's best position? Would he benefit from being played in a more central role?

    And as someone else mentioned, if you want to point to Spurs' flaws, then their two trips to Merseyside provide plenty of ammunition after an attack of complacency enabled Everton to claw back a two-goal deficit in the closing stages at Goodison Park.

  • Comment number 60.

    @pidgeGULL. Very good assesment of the tactics yesterday. Nice to hear from a person who thinks about trivial matters like tactics in a football match(!) LOL.

    But you're right. Spurs are relatively easy to play against if you employ the right tactics and your players stay focused. Spurs are very good at slaughtering teams that are having a bad day but can be easily frustrated at sides which are tougher to break down.

  • Comment number 61.

    after criticizing you the other day, i feel as if you've got this one spot on.
    Tottenham are a very good side, but they do indeed seem to lack that bit of self-belief sometimes. I'm afraid it's not only talent that wins you titles (or top-four spots), it's consistency. They certainly have the talent to beat any team on the day, but they haven't been able to do it on a consistent basis. And until they (believe they) can, they won't be a top four side
    encouraging performance for liverpool, let's see if they can build on this?...

  • Comment number 62.

    Wow - I thought Andy Gray was cynical until I read this piece, you put him to shame Phil.

  • Comment number 63.

    To be fair, we had Gareth Bale playing. We were pretty much screwed before we started.

    Modric was flying before his injury. Granted he has come back now but I dont think he has been quite as effective since the leg fracture. This shouldnt be any sort of excuse, because really the squad now should be doing better than it is. I'm with the group that says the 4th spot is disguising a growing number of below par performances. The Everton match for example should have been 3 points in the bag, but then we showed the soft underbelly that keeps costing us points. The Hull and Stoke matches I can live with to an extent, because on other weeks you score 9.

    The trouble is with the number of teams in contention for the top 6, theres a risk that we could miss out altogether. Aside from Chelsea and, surprisingly, an injury ravaged Arsenal, there isnt a lot to choose between the rest, and every point is going to be vital.

  • Comment number 64.

    and at #55, Phil McNulty has stated more than once in the past that he tends to blog on the game he attended. Last night he was at Anfield so Spurs are under the microscope.

    I'm prepared to admit though even as a Spurs fan, that Arsenal are having an exceptional season, all things considered. I thought once they lost Van Persie and Bendtner to injury that they would drop off the pace, but they have pushed on impressively. In fact, if they should happen to win the title (which I doubt, because Chelsea have such a strong squad) then it will perhaps be Arsene Wengers greatest achievement, even more so than the invincible season.

  • Comment number 65.

    Morning all.

    cameo appearence from a Gooner.

    i had a choice villa vs blackburn or Pool vs spurs as Arsenal's match
    was only highlights .............steam so....

    i chose to watch Pool vs spurs.

    spurs missed Lennon, Krankcer (spelling?) is a cracking player.

    Pool were up for it and considering their recent run played well ( i would not want Kuyt in my team though ) Not at all sure what Riena(spelling? ) was doing acting like a ref, reminds me so much of those planks who drive within the speed limit and hold the rest of us up on the roads with their bad driving habits afterall they are not Policemen
    are they? and niether is Riena( spelling again ? ) a refereee!

    so i take it Rafa is now back in favour? good.

    as for top four at this rate Portsmouth might just nick it.

    Ps; for those that have failed to notice, londons finest club, Arsenal sit at the top of the tree with a dazzling display of football.

    the futures bright its not stoke,hull or villa.

    shine on all.

  • Comment number 66.


    beats work!

  • Comment number 67.


    I was expecting some insight analysis about Spurs... about keane, crouch, attack etc etc.

    but it was more or less Liverpool story... (Please u come over of liverpool tragedy)

  • Comment number 68.

    Games like these show Harry's short-comings as Spurs manager, over-reliance on the same players & lack of faith in his squad. Keane has 6 goals, but 4 in one game. How is it that Pav can't get a run when Keane is clearly pants, I submit the failure to score in the Hull game as latest evidence. Gio Dos Santos can't get a game, Bentley, Naughton etc. If Harry's opinion is that these players are rubbish or not ready for the big-time, loan or sell them off. Luka Modric destroyed England from the middle of the park, but Redknapp doesn't trust him in the there. The Honeymoon is definitely over and he needs results or DISMISSAL.

    Now about Howard Webb(is the webb over his eyes). He consistently favours "big 4" teams in his decisions. If I was Spurs gaffer for a day, my first order of business would be to write the FA and ask that he not be allowed anywhere near a Spurs game.

  • Comment number 69.

    Shame to see Spurs put in a a rather lacklustre performance last night. Liverpool played better and deserved the 3 points but they were hardly unbeatable we just didn't turn up.

    As for the battle for the top 4 I seriously doubt our chances when we've been beaten at home by Stoke, Wolves and only drawn with Hull (although that had more to do with the keeper playing the game of his life!). We're not consistent enough to get 4th I don't think. I hope last night was only a blip and we'll use it as motivation to press on and keep hold of 4th but I have serious reservations. We have the players to do it it's just whether they can keep going and hold off the challenge of Villa, Man City and Liverpool. 4 very good teams all vying for one spot and it should make for an interesting finish.

  • Comment number 70.

    " ( i would not want Kuyt in my team though )"

    I know I said it last night, but...

    "Looks like Sloth off The Goonies,
    Scores as much as Wayne Rooney,
    You might think he's s***e,
    But he's really alright,
    Walking in a Kuyty wonderland!"

  • Comment number 71.

    Ahhh, I've been modded again for having the temerity to criticize Phil's article using the exact words he used to criticize the pre-match huddle. So much for parody, comment, free speech...

    I don't expect to see this one posted either. Mods, try to send me a reasoned response as to why - I see not one single rule broken here.

  • Comment number 72.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 73.

    Spurs were very poor last night in teh 1st half, Liverpool in 2nd half were pretty awful as well! I would say that Liverpool team is actually very average compared to previous versions over the alst 30 years. At the mo, Man City, Vila and Spurs all have greater depth than Liverpool but need to start beating Hull, Bolton and not just "big 4".

    I really think the Prem league now is certainly more open, I'm not sure this is because the other teams have spent more? If anything, the quality in all teams is lower than it was 3 or 5 years ago?

    There is a reason Kaka and Ronaldo play in La ligue.....its now better and more skillful plus it attracts the very top players.

  • Comment number 74.

    i have to say im with Phil here, the pre-match huddles have always got on my nerves. They seem to have been something first used by the England rugby team then everyone jumped on the bandwagon of using them - even cricket teams!! What needs to be said can be said in the dressing room. I often get the impression teams started to use them because everyone else was doing it.

    I was impressed by Liverpool last night. I often wonder what Mascherano has to do to get booked (and the look of innocence on his face no matter how many fouls he has done is always brilliant) but thought their whole team played well yesterday and fully deserved the win. But then it is easy to step your game up against the "better" teams than to beat the dross sometimes. I was only disappointed i went out to watch the Liverpool game when i could have stayed in for the goal-fest semi final. As some others have pointed out, despite having such a terrible season this year, it shows how open the PL has been that they are still so close to fourth. And maybe it shows how good United really are that despite all the critics writing them off this season, we are still in third, a point off top. Bet other teams wish they were so rubbish!!

  • Comment number 75.

    66 games not winning at a Big Four home ground does seem a telling statistic but it mask some awful luck including the Pedro Mendes goal/no goal in a 0-0 draw and 2-0 up there last season and an awful referee decision to give Man Utd a penalty and let them back into the game. If Spurs can concentrate on the other games matches against the Big Four won't matter.

  • Comment number 76.

    I don't care for Spurs at all, but this article is pathetically reactionary.

  • Comment number 77.

    Jenas is a neither a defensive midfielder, nor an attacking midfielder, nor the sweet playmaker, nor a box-to-box goalscoring midfielder. He is someone who is ,err, just there.

    and there lies your problem Spurs.

  • Comment number 78.

    All of this is essentially irrelevant as the fair result was a draw. Yes Liverpool dominated and deserved to win but I wouldn't expect anything else from a decent side playing at home. The fact is Crouch was fouled in the penalty area and Defoe scored a goal. Had last night been a draw, we wouldnt be talking about this we would be talking about how poor Liverpool are. Liverpool fans shouldnt take any heart from last nights game because I thought you were average at best and if you play like that again you will be beaten by sides with a bit more conviction than Spurs.

    That said, its extremely dissapointing as a Spurs fan. We were clearly missing width so what is the point of having Bentley and Dos Santos if they don't play when we need them.

    Finally, id like to remind everyone that we beat Man Utd at Old Trafford courtesy of Mendes' half way line goal. Worst refereeing decision in top flight history.

  • Comment number 79.

    Even as a Liverpool fan I cannot bring myself to apply too much to last nights game. Spurs aren't a very physical team, and plan B wasn't there once it became clear that Liverpool were closing them down well. It was really a case of Liverpool doing to Spurs what teams do to us. Kyrgiakos did well against Crouch, he was anonymous even when Spurs really started to hurl the ball long and high at the beginning of the second half.
    If Liverpool could play Spurs every week at Anfield we would probably win 8 out of ten games. (If it was possible do that kind of thing I would opt for United at Anfield, though!).
    The huddle? Well it works for the team that wins the game....but there is no harm in it, so wind your neck in Phil.
    Lets not get hysterical-and this article has the whiff of hysteria about it, judging the outcome of the rest of the season based on one game, is pointless. If Liverpool lose at Wolves and Spurs beat Fulham at home (both very imaginable results) we are back to exactly where we where 24 hours ago.
    The story from last nights game for me, was the failure of Redknapp to adapt during the game, which is typical of too many British managers (see SAF May 2009, v Barca).

  • Comment number 80.

    So where was Bassong when he was caught without his shorts?

  • Comment number 81.

    Re The huddle

    If used constantly it is pointless but when used well and sparingly it can have a positive effect. After the recent rumours 'doing the rounds' it showed the fans the team are in this together and also lifted the atmosphere inside the ground, which we took into the opening stages of the match, when did we score the first goal?

  • Comment number 82.

    i have supported Spurs for nearly 40 years and for virtually the whole of that time they have been capable of beating any team on their day. However Tottenhams problem is they have always had players who more often than not are not up for a battle when one is needed. the sort who will get the side back in the game say when they are 2-0 down on an away ground with 25 minutes to go. Of the starting 11 last night-the likes of Jenas Modric, Bale and Defoe come into this category-thats 40% of last nights outfielders-you can carry one player but not 4. (in the early-mid 80s which was the best spurs team i saw-substitute these names for the likes of Hoddle, Hazard, Galvin and Waddle)

    as long as these types of players are in the Spurs side-nothing will change and the top 4 will remain a long way off !!

  • Comment number 83.

    70. At 3:37pm on 21 Jan 2010, BeyondThePale wrote:
    " ( i would not want Kuyt in my team though )"

    I know I said it last night, but...

    "Looks like Sloth off The Goonies,


    good call - never thought of that before, but he blooming does look like him!!

  • Comment number 84.



    I was not wishing to belittle Kuyt but he wasted some very good chances
    one was a sitter.

    and as i say I do sincerly commend Pool for such a display bearing in mind the stick they have had to tollerate from all quarters.

  • Comment number 85.

    Why not judge spurs's credentials against the top 4 when they aren't screwed out of a result at a ground with biased officals. Kyrgiakos's rugby tackle on crouch, somehow crouch found himself penalised! and Defoe's 'goal' which was disallowed ...beyond me...

    it was a feak game ....kuyt scored TWICE...

  • Comment number 86.

    Having had the dubious fortune of watching most of Tottenham's games this season, I do think that they are probably the most overrated side in the Premier League this season.

    Four wins at the start of the season masked a number of deficiencies: the over-reliance on Aaron Lennon; the lack of a plan B; no real cutting edge against sides defending well; and too many players who lack the mentality and work ethic to deliver top quality performances on a consistent basis.

    It's not only their performances against the Big 4 this season that have shown up how far away from being real contenders they really are; dropping points at home to Stoke, Wolves and Hull have been equally disastrous. To be honest, how this team remains in the top four is the real mystery. With a tough second half of the season to come, Tottenham will do well to finish in the top six at the end of the season - especially if a resurgent Everton come into the picture for Europe.

  • Comment number 87.

    4th place is between City and Liverpool. The result of which will be determined by Benitez. If he gets it wrong, City get into the CL and Rafa loses his job.

    Spurs aren't ready just yet and Villa are starting to struggle. Again.

  • Comment number 88.


    You have a point, but if you're looking for someone who can take a longview, a football journalists column is not the place to come a calling for it. That applies to all of them.

  • Comment number 89.

    For those questioning the offside decision, the decision was a correct one in my opinion. Defoe was a long way offside to begin with, but Kyrgiakos felt "under pressure" and so took a touch when defoe had wandered back on. In my mind, Defoe was still intefering with play so he was still "offside"?

    Please correct me if im wrong?

  • Comment number 90.

    You know what won this game for Liverpool last night? Its experience. Theyve been here and done it so many times. They know what it takes when the stakes are there vs inexperienced top 4 teams like Spurs.

    Spurs bottled it. And you know what, Spurs are arguably a better side than Liverpool right now.

  • Comment number 91.

    I don't agree with several others that Bale had an awful game last night - to me it was actually one of his better performances. He looked better defensively and only struggled to make an impact going forward due to the lack of width in midfield to link play with. This width issue was Spurs real downffall, as without pace to beat a player (Lennon) or the ability to go outside and deliver a cross, Liverpool knew they could concentrate all their energy in breaking up play centrally. Krancjar had very little involvement, which was disappointing given how well he has performed in recent games. Frustrating result but not as frustrating as the dropped points at home to Wolves, Hull and Stoke.

  • Comment number 92.

    Pre-match huddles are particularly annoying if your team then appears to lack motivation. Their was an air of inevitability about last night's result. Spurs are only clinging to fourth place because the other contenders are equally inconsistent. I think Jenas sums up Spurs' problems - plenty of talent, but rarely delivers. Hoofing long balls up to Crouch and getting Corluka to provide crosses from deep is not going to produce results.

  • Comment number 93.

    No they haven't. Could I have told you that at the start of the season....yes.

  • Comment number 94.

    It annoys me that press (and liverpool fans) drone on about them being a depleted side and it being Spurs best chance to beat them in ages.

    There is a half-hearted reference to Lennon, but nobody seems to be remotely bothered that Tottenham are also missing 4 other first team players in Huddlestone, Assou-Ekotto, King and Woodgate.

    Both sides have injuries, but in fairness Tottenham's performance was not good enough on the night for a victory. That said, in my opinion, neither was Liverpool's - they had a good last 10 minutes, but for 80 mins they put 11 men behind the ball and did not look to play any football whatsoever. I the weekend trip to Stoke must have paid off.

    Spurs didn't deserve to win, and neither did Liverpool. A draw would have been fair for two negative performances - and what with a goal that plainly should have stood, and a blatant foul on crouch in the area, maybe on another day it would have been.

  • Comment number 95.

    This was a crucial game for Liverpool and they clearly understood this and raised their game. However, if they feel this is job done and get turned over again in their next game it's all for naught.

    It's too tempting to look at one result and say that things are now turned around. Liverpool have to put a string of victories together now. The way other teams are showing inconsistency is what is keeping Liverpool in the hunt and what keeps those teams from pulling away. However, the fact if Villa and City win their games in hand then Liverpool are again 4 points of fourth place.

    The worry is that there is a little back patting going on now after the Spurs match and there is, as yet, no reason for this. The job is not done yet.

    For Spurs, this was a bad result but they will probably take more resolve in to their next game and drive harder. They're still in the ascendancy and its a little too early to rule them out of fourth spot just yet.

    This season has a lot more twists and turns to come.

  • Comment number 96.

    Liverpool will claw their way into the top 4 come seasons end. All of this fervour for Spurs, Man C and Villa is mainly perpetuated by the media who are salivating at this seasons carcass ie Liverpool, which they pick at mercilessly. Last season it was Arsenal, as we grappled with Villa and looked 'shot' at one stage. Now its Liverpools turn, who despite the popular but misconcieved view that they have no decent players bar two, are a better side than all of the new media favourites for entry into the top 4.

  • Comment number 97.

    Even though Spurs had the majority of the ball in the 2nd half, you have to question what did they do with it apart from the goal that in all honesty should have stood, but Liverpool have hardly had anu luck all season, so they were due!

    Liverpool deserved to win the game even though the performance was not great it was good enough on this occasion, In the end Liverpool could have ended up winning by a larger margin if Kuyt has taken his chances and Riera header has gone in, they created mopre chances and I dont think a Spurs fan can argue the end result.

    And by the way I think the huddle can be useful in those final moments, just a final reminder to each player of their responsibilities and it can raise the noise level at kick off!

  • Comment number 98.

    to answer your question Phil: NO THEY DON'T (have the nerve and the stomach nor the dept and the character).

    this is the classic Gameboy situation: TRY AGAIN.

  • Comment number 99.

    "The pre-match huddle is one of the most pointless pieces of posturing in modern sport"

    Somewhat of a sweeping statement considering (correct me if I'm wrong) a journalist who has had no first hand experience in professional sport.
    Liverpools performance was not outstounding last night, far from it indeed, however Rafa got his tactics spot on packing the midfield and thrawting Spurs midfield threat. Something which Mcnulty failed to point out instead he just reiterated about 10 times Spurs lacked of fight. Another poor article which failed to give Liverpoool the credit they deserve........

  • Comment number 100.

    It really worries me that the BBC are using my hard earned license money to pay you to write this tosh.

    Yes, Spurs didn't play well, but playing against 14 men (you failed to mention Howard Webb and his assistants failing to make big decisions for the penalty on Crouch, tacle on Bale by Mascherano and Defo's goal)is pretty hard at the best of times.


Page 1 of 2

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.