It felt like one point might not be enough (as teams like Chelsea contrived to win against the odds, against natural justice), but the performance was certainly one to rebuild on. Then Spurs contrived to lose it. One point from fifteen is a desperate place to come from to rescue a season of such evaporating promise.
How many times have we started this badly this season? Of course, every formation is both a strength and a weakness but we contrived to make three at the back an Achilles heel. Worse than that, we played without belief, bypassing our uncertain-looking midfield with wild clearances.
Then half an hour in, we came into the game and arguably dominated the second half. We’ve gone from starting badly and coming to dominate to doing all that but then tossing it all away.
We have the added burden of needing the Champions League berth to pay for it but we do at least return home on Wednesday to a magnificent stadium. This team is like a boxer going into the last round taking endless shots. This team needs us in that new stadium. We all have to pull together to help the players find belief first and then fluency and then the ability to win, one game at a time.
Lloris – 3
It is the lot of a keeper for his performance to be defined in a moment. Lloris should have held that moderate header from Salah. So much depended on him just doing his job (and not just the result of this game). He couldn’t do it and he carries the can. (Though Salah looked offside to me?)
Alderweireld – 5
Part of a defence that didn’t look like they could get it organised in the first twenty minutes but then played better and better (with only two central defenders interestingly). Scorer of one of those own goals that can’t really be helped but which transpires in time slowed to the eternal.
Sanchez – 4
From everything we’ve said about an unnecessary third central defender, he added little personally to the strategic pointlessness. For me, it was Sanchez that let Firmino go for the first goal. And why when you’ve got one of the best controlling centre backs in the world at the club (Alderweireld) is he not at the centre, managing the back line in place of this much less experienced defender?
Vertonghen – 6
Did little wrong. Didn’t provide one of his performances of heroic leadership either.
Trippier – 3
When we were bad, Trippier was really, really bad. He didn’t go to the man with the ball for the first goal and he was positionally AWOL for that first twenty minutes as Liverpool enjoyed the acreage he afforded them (in the context of a five man defence!). We can’t any longer claim he crosses the ball. His form has taken a nose dive this season.
Rose – 6
In contrast, of course, Rose looked fabulous. He did work effectively defensively and offered dynamism going forward. Yet of all our fullbacks he is the one we’re going to lose over the summer, apparently?
Sissoko – 5
He comes into his own as games begin to stretch out and true to type he began to break through time and again as others tired around him. Equally true to form when presented with his opportunity he donned red nose and frizzy wig and demonstrated neither composure nor technique. Genius of Van Dyke to show him the goal: “you can shoot all day long but there’s no way you’re passing to Sonny”!
Eriksen – 4
Granted he improved as the team found the confidence to retain possession. Prior to that he seemed like a passenger. I still believe he is going to have a say in our finish to the season but right now he’s a deeply frustrating component.
Dele – 4
He is coming back from injury. The England games did him no favours. But, he was like Eriksen but even more consistently peripheral. Two players like this in a game is some luxury. Like Eriksen, he also has the capability to win us some games before the end. Hope so!
Lucas – 7
The bright spark. He deserved to be the scorer. He was athletic, capable of retaining possession under pressure, got shots off, got his foot in, was available.
Kane – 6
Not strictly an assist but his quick thinking crossfield pass was worthy of … well, an NFL kicker. It is the other half of his contribution, game-changing vision and passing – see England this week. He also managed enough power in a shot to create an opening for Eriksen.
OK, maybe the game was opening up anyway but Liverpool seemed to be back-pedalling from the moment Sonny came on. As ever Llorente got his header in (this time on one of the Liverpool players). Davies had a front seat view of the winner.
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