Tottenham vs. Liverpool: Analysing the Good and the Bad from the Reds' Defeat
A superb start from the home team saw them race into an early 2-0 lead courtesy of Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale, before Liverpool woke up and started to work their way into the match.
Despite an improved showing thereafter Liverpool failed to take their chances and only an own goal from Bale in the second half reduced the deficit.
The 2-1 loss leaves Liverpool now seven points behind Spurs and still in the bottom half of the table heading into December for the first time since the Premier League era began in 1992.
Here are three good signs and three things to work on that Liverpool can take from the game.
Bad: The Dreadfully Slow Start from Liverpool Continues
At the weekend in their last game, Liverpool started slowly and struggled to get a hold on the game as a result. They couldn't raise the tempo of the match or dictate the areas of the pitch it would be played in, and the—supposed—better players never imposed themselves enough to help find a victory.
Against Spurs it was much worse—the slow start by Liverpool turned out even more costly as Spurs raced into a two-goal lead in the first quarter of an hour.
Simply put, you can't afford to give teams that much of a head start in games and still expect to get points out of a fixture.
Liverpool have to start games better next month. There are points to be won in December and, especially at Anfield, a faster start to matches is imperative from here on in.
Good: Attacking Play and Attitude to Get Back in the Game
After a first 20 minutes where Liverpool were dreadful, they finally decided to start playing and take the game to Spurs in an attempt to get something out the game.
They ultimately proved to not have enough to do so, but their attacking play thereafter showed that the team does have pace, power and creativity that should win them games in future—if they show those attributes earlier in games.
Liverpool could have let Spurs continue dictating the flow of the game and too often over the past couple of seasons that has been the case when the Reds go behind, but they showed good character to be the better side at White Hart Lane despite the early scoreline.
Bad: The Refereeing...Again
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Brendan Rodgers must be getting sick of Premier League referees.
Against Spurs his team were denied two penalties, one of which looked stonewall and one which was a good shout if not definite.
Luis Suarez was tripped late in the game by William Gallas, and Steven Gerrard was poleaxed between defender and goalkeeper in the first half.
Not only that, but the winning goal scored by Gareth Bale came from a free kick that was hotly disputed by Jordan Henderson, who was adjudged to have pushed Clint Dempsey to the ground, though there was certainly minimal contact.
Speaking to BBC television after the game, Rodgers remarked that he didn't know what Suarez or Gerrard had to do to be awarded a penalty—either one in this game might have earned his team a point.
While we're on the subject of referees, Bale was booked for diving during the match. Nothing seems to have been made of it in the media following the game; one can only suspect what the fallout might have been if a certain player on Liverpool's team had done the same.
Good: Chances Created
Liverpool created a lot of very, very good chances against Spurs.
The first one fell to Luis Suarez just after the opening goal of the game, but the best of the half belonged to Jordan Henderson.
He was under pressure as the ball came to him 25 yards out, but there was no goalkeeper in place after Hugo Lloris had come racing out of his goal and Henderson simply had to score—instead he put the shot wide.
A chance for Suarez was cleared off the line, Jose Enrique drilled an effort wide and saw another deflected at close quarters, and there were several other half-chances and good opportunities.
Interpretation of how much that means for Liverpool is down to the individual—the team created the opportunities though and were able to open up Spurs often enough to score goals.
Bad: The Finishing...Again
Getting 65 percent possession and 17 shots—and not one Liverpool player managed to find the back of the net.
Not even a disallowed goal to boast of this time around, after the Reds' goal came courtesy of Gareth Bale's unwitting face.
Finishing has been for far too long a real problem for Liverpool and it was much the same against Spurs, with Jose Enrique, Suarez and Henderson all guilty of spurning good opportunities.
Only five of the 17 hit the target to test Lloris, and the Spurs goalkeeper was not kept adequately busy in the final stages of the game as Liverpool looked to press for an equaliser.
Good: The Imperious Form of Glen Johnson
Arguably the most in-form full-back in the entire Premier League this season has been Liverpool's Glen Johnson.
Deployed on the right side again, for the second game running he was as culpable as anybody for the opening slow start, but as Liverpool grew into the match he was one of the standout performers again.
Defensively he was the Reds' busiest player, winning five tackles and two interceptions—but he also contributed significantly at the other end too, getting involved in plenty of link-up play with Raheem Sterling and running at the Spurs defence when he had the chance.
Johnson has been superb this season on either right or left side of the defence, and his continued impressive form will give Brendan Rodgers further cause for optimism.
all stats from whoscored.com