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Rating the Liverpool Players against Tottenham

Pradeep KumarFeatured ColumnistOctober 10, 2016

Rating the Liverpool Players against Tottenham

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    Liverpool’s eight-game unbeaten run came to an end at the White Hart Lane as a Gareth Bale inspired Tottenham Hotspur comfortably saw off the challenge.

    Two first half goals proved just enough for Spurs who will now look to take the momentum from this result into Saturday’s all-London clash against Fulham.

    Yet again, it was the same old tale for the Reds, who, dogged by their sluggishness at the beginning stages of the game slipped to a two-goal deficit in as early as the 16th minute.

    Poor refereeing decisions notwithstanding, strange choice of playing 11 came back to haunt Brendan Rodgers as he watched helplessly at the sideline, with his heart in his mouth, as Liverpool put up a valiant fight to wrestle back the control of the game from Andre Villas-Boas’ men.

    Going on a post-match rant about referee Phil Dowd’s performance, Rodgers steered clear of explaining the controversial selection of Stewart Downing at left back.

    Anyway, here are the Liverpool player ratings from the encounter at North London.

Pepe Reina

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    Rating Score: 5.5/10

    Pepe Reina had almost a night to forget.

    When Gareth Bale converted to make it 2-0, memories of the 4-0 drubbing from last season would have flashed right in front of his eyes.

    Reina did not cost his team the opener but the second goal was a giveaway. It is another issue that the wall did not do its job properly.

    Reina, deceived by the ball’s early trajectory, made a hasty move which allowed for the ball to slowly chug its way past him into the back of the net.

Glen Johnson

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    Rating Score: 7.5/10

    On a night, when all else failed, Glen Johnson stood out like a shining beacon for the visitors.

    He ran, he passed, he defended, he crossed and he even took shots on target. Johnson’s meticulousness was probably what powered Liverpool’s fight back.

    The tenacity shown by him on the pitch was unrivalled except of course by the man he came up against many times during the night, Gareth Bale.

Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger

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    Rating Score: 5/10

    The centre-back pair were found wanting on many occasions when Tottenham put pressure on the break.

    Martin Skrtel nearly saw red for a tackle from behind on Tottenham’s Clint Dempsey. And while Agger contributed more on the attacking front, providing a heading threat from corners and setting up the forward line with through balls, he was relatively silent with regard to his defensive duties.

    A statistical analysis of Liverpool’s attacks—published on the club website—shows that Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger were the two, out of nine others, to have seen more of the ball and to have passed it with a greater accuracy.

    Now, there is a very disturbing trend seemingly growing here. If Rodgers intends to make this team adopt certain qualities from FC Barcelona’s style of play, then certainly he has got to know that it’s the central midfielders—and not the defenders—who need to see more of the ball.

    The sooner he figures that out, the better for Liverpool Football Club.

Stewart Downing

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    Rating Score: 3/10

    Involving Stewart Downing for this high intensity game would in itself have been a terrible choice.

    Putting him in at left back was yet another tactical failure by Brendan Rodgers, evident from the way in which the whole plan spectacularly backfired, blowing right up under his face.

    Let’s say we understand the logic behind playing Glen Johnson at right back despite Andre Wisdom being fit to take to the field. Rodgers probably wanted an experienced head to tackle Gareth Bale.

    But inserting Downing at left back, when even Daniel Agger would have been a better alternative, meant two things.

    First, he wished to keep Jose Enrique up ahead owing to the Spaniard’s decent showing recently.

    Second, he underestimated the attacking threat of Aaron Lennon, and overestimated the defensive qualities of your typical English winger, Stewart Downing.

    And, what was the price?

    Spurs’ first goal, a neat close-range finish from Aaron Lennon as Downing “watched” the ball carefully, all the way until it carefully nestled inside the net.

Jordan Henderson

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    Rating Score: 4.5/10

    Jordan Henderson, who many thought might have actually turned a corner, went back to his uninfluential self and topped it off by failing to convert into an open net from 25 yards out with practically no one in the way.

    Henderson’s disputed challenge on Clint Dempsey was what that set Gareth Bale en route to scoring his team’s second of the night.

Joe Allen

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    Rating Score: 5.5/10

    Allen's is a case of playing at the wrong place at the wrong time.

    Joe Allen made an easy-on-the-eye start to his Anfield career, but the moment he dropped down the field to fill in for the injured Lucas Leiva; things started going south for this talented Welsh youngster.

    Although, credit to his work rate and talent, he hasn’t exactly been a hopeless candidate in his position but certainly outplayed and outmatched coming up against quality attacking midfielders in the opposition ranks.

    Against Tottenham, Joe kept his ground well, but aided very little in their fight back as his side slipped to the fourth defeat of their campaign at a time when his former side Swansea were romping home with all three points against high flying West Bromwich Albion.

Steven Gerrard

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    Rating Score: 6/10

    Well, it was one of those days when even Liverpool’s inspirational skipper couldn’t find that bit of motivation to drag his side to the finish line.

    Gerrard had a relatively silent game. Despite his best efforts at bringing in others, especially the full backs, he couldn’t help his side much other than head a Jonjo Shelvey corner onto Aaron Lennon on goal line whose comic clearance paved the way for Liverpool to pull one back late into the game.

    A controversial moment arose when Gerrard went down under the challenge of Moussa Dembele in the penalty box and was nearly sandwiched between the Spurs attacker and the onrushing goalie, Hugo Lloris.

    However, referee Phil Dowd waved on.

Jose Enrique

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    Rating Score: 6/10

    Playing Jose Enrique up front on the left wing was a good tactical ploy by Brendan Rodgers.

    Enrique exposed the flaws in Kyle Walker’s game and took advantage of it at times. But, those instances were few and far between, in what was a mediocre performance from the Spaniard.

    He lost possession quite easily during the latter stages of the game and was visibly frustrated at substitute Oussama Assaidi, who had come on for Stewart Downing, as the pair struggled to find their rhythm.

    But, perhaps, Enrique’s biggest let down from the night must be his low confidence in front of the goal. Instances when he headed down a cross from Suarez, for Henderson nearby, when he himself could have had a go, show that the left-back turned left-winger is lacking in the confidence department.

Raheem Sterling

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    Rating Score: 6.5/10

    Young Raheem Sterling produced another fine performance for a 17-year-old plying his trade with the big boys of the Premier League.

    He gave many restless moments for Spurs left back Jan Vertonghen, although the Belgian successfully prevailed on most occasions due to his experience.

    The one major area that Sterling should concentrate and work on is his 10-yard pace, a quality essential in a featherweight youngster running down the wings like him. Also, Rodgers should concentrate on improving his shot-taking ability as he seems to be little lacking in confidence when presented with a chance.

Luis Suarez

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    Rating Score: 6.5/10

    Luis Suarez, Liverpool’s man on a hot-streak, couldn’t find or create that crucial wonder goal, a close quarters volley or even a simple tap-in when his side needed it the most.

    Suarez might have scored a controversial goal from few yards out, had his volley found the back of the net instead of settling into the crowd, as Daniel Agger pulled the ball back for him from outside the line. However, neither referee nor the linesman spotted it.

Substitutes

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    Jonjo Shelvey

    Breathed fresh air into a tiring fight back mechanism and was the provider for Liverpool’s solitary goal that went in after ricocheting off of Gareth Bale’s face from an Aaron Lennon clearance.

    Oussama Assaidi

    The Moroccan came on for the final 10 minutes, replacing Stewart Downing and pushing Enrique back down to his natural position.

    And in the few minutes he played, Assaidi showed exactly why Rodgers has been giving him much less game time.

    He is just not ready to handle the nerves of the big stage.

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