Tottenham 2 Liverpool 1: Spurs player analysis and ratings
Spurs beat Liverpool once again at the Lane, leapfrogging Arsenal and Everton in the table, but how did the players rate?
HUGO LLORIS 6/10
Kept his place in goal and made an important save immediately after Aaron Lennon’s opener, getting down to save Luis Suarez’s low effort from the edge of the box. The Frenchman is brave, decisive and quick off his line, but he doesn’t always get there and that was apparent a couple of times tonight. He raced out of his box to meet Jose Enrique in the first half and lost the footrace. Kyle Walker intervened but only succeeded in redirecting the ball to Jordan Henderson, who was gifted an open goal – but missed it. It was a similar story late on as he got caught in no-man’s land against JonJo Shelvey, with William Gallas coming to the rescue with an important tackle.
KYLE WALKER 7/10
Showed his pace to beat Enrique to a dangerous through ball in the first half, but then created a different problem by failing to clear the ball and prodding it to Henderson. Went on to save his side by rushing back to clear Suarez’s trickling goalbound effort off the line, and showed the benefits of his pace again on a few occasions in the second half, haring in behind his less manoeuvrable centre-backs to clear the danger. Did well to track Enrique’s run across the box and block his shot in the 70th minute but, unfortunately, Liverpool scored from the corner – or, rather, Bale did…
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MICHAEL DAWSON 7/10
Kept his place after a strong performance against West Ham on Sunday, getting only his second league start of the season – and he looked like the senior partner in central defence alongside William Gallas. Made a timely sliding block to deny Suarez on the edge in the first half, and his aerial prowess came to the fore as Tottenham were forced into a rearguard action in the closing stages of the match. On the other hand, there was a heart-in-mouth moment as his clearance cannoned into Gallas and rebounded over the bar. Dawson’s distribution varied from the sublime to the ridiculous, and he sent Gareth Bale away to set up Aaron Lennon’s goal with a nice pass. However, he then reverted to type with a couple of frustrating long balls out towards the wing – the first a 50/50 high ball which Bale lost, and the second missed the Welshman by a distance. Despite that, he deserves to be picked over Gallas when Steven Caulker recovers from his illness.
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WILLIAM GALLAS 5/10
Supposedly brings experience to the rearguard but only seemed to make it nervier – a feeling which was epitomised when he nearly scored a comical own goal after being struck by Dawson’s attempted clearance. It proved to be a dry run for Lennon and Bale’s combination for Tottenham’s own goal in the second half. The Frenchman made a crucial intervention to take the ball away from Shelvey in the 85th minute, but then nearly undid his hard work by allowing a long ball to drop to Suarez on the edge of the box. Fortunately, Spurs got away with it.
JAN VERTONGHEN 5/10
Faced a tough test against Raheem Sterling and the overlapping Glen Johnson, and didn’t seem to enjoy it very much. Not his best game in possession either, and he lost the ball a few times, while also getting caught upfield at a dangerous time when Tottenham were hanging onto a narrow one-goal lead. He will be looking forward to returning to centre-back.
An unsung hero, quietly getting about his job in the centre, rebuilding his partnership with Mousa Dembele, but they lost the midfield battle as the game went on.
MOUSA DEMBELE 6/10
Made his first start since October 7 and initially showed why he was so badly missed, helping to clean up in front of the back four and then turning defence into attack with one drop of the shoulder. However, he was arguably lucky to escape a penalty in the 37th minute after getting the wrong side of Steven Gerrard, who tumbled to the turf – and the Belgian’s punishment might not have stopped at a spot-kick if referee Phil Dowd had awarded a foul. Tried to dictate the game in the second half but looked understandably rusty. He will need a few games to get back to his best, and was substituted late on.
AARON LENNON 7/10
Faced with a makeshift left-back in Stewart Downing, the England winger stole in to meet Gareth Bale’s cross and open the scoring early on, netting his second goal of the season. That was the highlight of his contribution and there was little else to shout about. He also lashed the ball into Bale to play a part in a strange own goal, but that was just bad luck.
CLINT DEMPSEY 6/10
One of the stars of the 3-1 victory over West Ham, the American was less effervescent tonight. There was plenty of hard work, some nice touches and a good dose of patience in possession, but less of an impact that his previous outing, and he was replaced by Gyfli Sigurdsson in the 63rd minute.
GARETH BALE 9/10
Stole the show from the start, virtually winning the match by himself in the first 20 minutes. Set his sights with an early, swerving free-kick that Pepe Reina punched away, before overlapping Jermain Defoe and firing across goal – all inside the first five minutes. Then came the first goal as he received the ball from Dawson on the halfway line and beat four Liverpool players before crossing for Lennon. It took him just one touch to score the second as he sent a Ronaldo-esque free-kick past Reina – a shot which moved and dipped so much that it looked like it had taken a deflection off the wall. It hadn’t – it was just that good. He nearly did it again in the second half, narrowly missing the top corner from 30 yards, before scoring an unfortunate own goal which he cannot really be blamed for. Booked for diving over Daniel Agger’s foot, there seemed to be contact but he may have gone down easily.
JERMAIN DEFOE 4/10
Stole the headlines against his former club West Ham at the weekend but, like Dempsey, struggled to have the same impact tonight. Started brightly and freed Bale for an early shot at goal, but then got very quiet very quickly in the lone striker’s role.
GYLFI SIGURDSSON 4/10
Replaced Dempsey with 25 minutes to go and added very little with the ball. Worked hard without it, but often seemed to be on the fringes of the action with his arms in the air in frustration, rather than actually getting stuck in.
TOM HUDDLESTONE 6/10
Came on late in the day to bolster the rearguard action, but had little time to stand out.