Tottenham v Liverpool: Rating the Spurs Players

Tony MabertContributor ISeptember 18, 2011

Tottenham v Liverpool: Rating the Spurs Players

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    Tottenham Hotspur continued their excellent home form over Liverpool on Sunday, as they beat them 4-0 at White Hart Lane. 

    While the Reds were the architects of their own downfall by having both Charlie Adam and Martin Skrtel sent off, Spurs were running Kenny Dalglish's team ragged even before those red cards were shown.

    The rout follows on from three consecutive 2-1 home wins over Liverpool for Spurs under Harry Redknapp's management, but this comprehensive victory has truly helped kick-start the Londoners' season after back-to-back defeats at the start of the season.

    Here's how the Tottenham players rated in their biggest victory over Liverpool since they drubbed them 7-2 on the same ground back in April 1963.

Brad Friedel (6)

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    In truth, the American veteran goalkeeper had little to do against his former club. The one time he had to pick the ball out of his own net was when Luis Suarez's effort was chalked off for offside. 

    Some of his punts forward caused problems for the hapless Liverpool defence, including one long pass which fell for Niko Kranjcar to set up Emmanuel Adebayor.

    This was the 20th time the native of Bay Village, Ohio had faced the Reds in the Premier League since leaving Anfield in 2000. This match saw his sixth clean sheet against them for Blackburn, Aston Villa and now Spurs. 

    In total, he has registered 120 shutouts in his 498 Premier League appearances, level with Petr Cech as the seventh most in the competition. 

Kyle Walker (7)

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    A typically hectic performance from the young England right-back. He and Stewart Downing played a handful of games together for Aston Villa last season, and Downing could well have become his teammate at Spurs before opting to join Liverpool instead.

    Perhaps that experience of training with Downing for Villa and England helped him devise a way to counter his threat, because the £20 million summer signing was largely ineffectual whenever he attacked on Walker's side of the pitch.

    The powerful 21-year-old has plenty of pace in him, and he used it to great effect to get down the right in support of Kranjcar when the Croatian drifted inside, and on occasion brought the best out of Jose Enrique.  

Younes Kaboul (6)

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    The France international is rarely the most assured of presences at the back for Spurs, though his 6-foot-3 height and strength are often sufficient to get him out of jail. It is not for nothing that his nickname among some of the Tottenham faithful is Younes Kaboom.

    There was no call for him to be tested at White Hart Lane on Sunday though, as the aerial threat of Andy Carroll never truly came to fruition in this game.

    The 25-year-old's imposing frame makes him a danger for opposition defenders at set pieces, and he rose above his markers to head wide from a corner in the run-up to halftime.

Ledley King (7)

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    King has given his entire career to Spurs, having come through the club's youth ranks in 1998.

    Despite that, a series of bad injuries, including a debilitating knee injury have reduced him to only making around half the appearances for the club that he could have expected to in that time.

    Many question the wisdom of keeping a 30-year-old who spends much of his time training in the pool rather than on the field with his teammates, and cannot play more than one game a week, but the facts back up the decision to stick with him when fit. 

    This season he has played two games, and Spurs have not conceded in either. If you go back to include the nine appearances he made last season too, Spurs have shipped seven in the last 11 games that he has been on the pitch. There was rarely any danger of an eighth being shipped on his watch in this game.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto (7)

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    Tottenham's French-born Cameroon international does not often get the praise he deserves, especially for his role in supporting Gareth Bale and helping the Welshman in his conversion from a left-back into a bona fide winger. Being a left-back himself, perhaps it is in Assou-Ekotto's interests to facilitate and perpetuate Bale's move up the pitch.

    Assou-Ekotto can sometimes be guilty of the odd, erratic moment defensively, but he was sturdy enough to keep Jordan Henderson quiet all afternoon. His one hairy moment came when he appeared to hold Carroll back by the arm inside the area, but the striker's dramatic reaction to being impeded worked against him.

    The 27-year-old, like Walker on the other flank, is encouraged to get forward when he can too, and with Liverpool down to nine men, one of his marauding runs forward ended with a decent cross in for Bale, but the winger could not convert it.

Scott Parker (8)

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    Parker has been an on-and-off target for Tottenham ever since he was a young player at Charlton. At various stages through the midfielder's career, Chelsea, Newcastle and West Ham have all either got in ahead of Spurs or signed him when the Londoners were not in the market for a player of his type.

    Now finally a Tottenham player at the age of 30, Parker looks part of the furniture after just two matches. Freed from the responsibility of having to do it all for the Hammers, Parker can concentrate his indefatigable work rate on breaking up the play in midfield and initiating attacks. 

    After setting up Adebayor for his debut goal at Wolves last week, Parker almost managed to tee up his new teammate with a handful of through balls and dinks that asked questions of the Liverpool defence.

    Always willing and able to get stuck in, Parker drew the foul from Charlie Adam which led to the Scotsman's second yellow card, and reduced Liverpool to 10 men. His £5 million fee already looks like an absolute bargain.

Luka Modric (8)

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    How well Modric settled back into life as a Tottenham player after agitating for a move to Chelsea for most of the summer was always going to be key to Spurs' fortunes this season. His apparent request not to play earlier in the season and his below-par showings when he did looked as though they could seriously damage the club's start to the season.

    Any remaining question marks over his commitment must surely have been dispelled after another graceful, beguiling performance in midfield that show why he was such a prized asset.

    His seventh-minute strike from 20 yards was as cleanly struck as any player could wish for, and it fizzed past Pepe Reina, leaving the Spanish keeper stranded. That was Modric's first Premier League goal since his penalty in the 2-0 win at Anfield back in May, and he was unfortunate to see another effort saved after some nimble footwork on the edge of the box.

    The Croatian skipped and passed his way through Liverpool's midfield at will, rarely relinquishing possession, and stroking myriad perfectly-weighted balls into the paths of teammates.

    But perhaps the most encouraging part of his game was just how quickly he has struck up an effective partnership with Parker. Between the pair of them, they have all bases covered, and look set to be a formidable duo this season. 

Niko Kranjcar (7)

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    The Croatian looked set to be the main beneficiary of Modric's potential exit, but in the absence of the injured Aaron Lennon he has already made six appearances this season.

    The 27-year-old matched his compatriot for creativity, linking up well with Modric and Adebayor on several occasions, and getting away a couple of decent efforts himself.

    Substituted for Rafael van der Vaart at halftime, he had already made his mark on the match and will continue to give Harry Redknapp a selection headache for future matches.

    That he was snapped up from Portsmouth for just £2.5 million never fails to baffle.

Gareth Bale (8)

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    The Welshman may not have scored in the league since New Year's Day, but he still offers such a threat for any full-back not able to match his pace, power and touch.

    Today that man was Martin Skrtel, who as Liverpool's makeshift right-back had a torrid time trying and failing to contain the reigning PFA Player of the Year. Twice the faltering Slovakian fouled Bale, and twice he saw yellow cards. 

    The 22-year-old's cross led to Modric's opener, and his deliveries from the left flank set up several of scoring chances.

    He also tested Reina on more than one occasion, and showed he still retains his defensive instincts when he stepped up to catch Skrtel offside at one point.

Emmanuel Adebayor (8)

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    The Togolese traditionally starts strongly at new clubs, having scored on debut for both Arsenal and Manchester City before netting in his first match for Spurs at Wolves last week.

    His brace on his first home appearance for Spurs will go a long way to endearing him to the fans who used to abuse him so vociferously when he scored against them for the Gunners with regularity.

    Adebayor made sure he was involved constantly, dropping deep to link up with midfielders for the give-and-go, and his movement saw him lose his markers inside the box far more often than Kenny Dalglish could stand.

    His hunger for a goal led to him pouncing when Reina spilled Jermain Defoe's strike to coolly lift over the keeper and score Tottenham's third, and with virtually the last kick of the game he latched on to Giovani dos Santos's ball over the top to lash home an emphatic finish from close range. That second goal ensured that the on-loan striker took home the Man of the Match award.  

    With games against Stoke, Wigan and Shamrock Rovers coming up, Adebayor may find himself in fearsome scoring form when former club Arsenal come to visit White Hart Lane on October 2.

Jermain Defoe (8)

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    Before Adebayor's brace, Defoe had been the last Tottenham player to score in his first two league matches for the club back in 2004.

    Injuries and loss of form saw Defoe struggle in front of goal for much of last season. His two league goals this term are already half as many as he scored last term, while his strike against Hearts in the Europa League a month ago means he is a third of the way to matching his total for the whole of 2010-11 in all competitions.

    The England striker was a constant nuisance for a Liverpool defence beset from all sides. One of his blocked shots set up Modric's opener, while another effort beaten away by Reina led to Adebayor's first.

    In between these two goals, Defoe got in enough good positions to send several efforts close before he showed great strength for his 5-foot-7 frame to hold the ball up under pressure from Jose Enrique before rolling past the Spaniard and drilling a clinical finish past Reina into the bottom corner.