Monday, September 19, 2011

Match Report: Tottenham 4 - 0 Liverpool

Emmanuel Adebayor scored twice on his home debut as Tottenham hammered four past nine-man Liverpool to earn a morale-boosting first home win of the season.

Luka Modric opened the scoring with a blistering 20-yard strike before Charlie Adam picked up a second yellow card for a late foul on Scott Parker.

Martin Skrtel, who had a torrid afternoon at right-back thanks to Gareth Bale, was sent off for a second booking in the second half before Jermain Defoe calmly slotted home to make it 2-0 in the 66th minute.

Adebayor, who scored on his debut against Wolves last week, scored a tap-in soon after before he volleyed past Jose Reina to seal the win in stoppage time.

Fresh off the back of last week's first win of the season, Tottenham looked a class apart against their top-four rivals, but their cause was helped by the two dismissals.

Reds boss Kenny Dalglish, who met referees' chief Mike Riley this week after venting his anger at Mark Clattenburg's decisions against his team last weekend, was furious with Mike Jones' decision-making at times, stopping the official as he went down the tunnel at half-time.

But in truth Liverpool could have no complaints about the defeat or its margin.

Right from the kick-off it looked like there was only ever going to be one winner.

After his team's midweek trip to Greece, Harry Redknapp reverted to the same XI that beat Wolves and they stamped their dominance on the game from the whistle.

Adebayor brushed past his marker to gain a yard in the box but miscued his volleyed wide from 10 yards.

Daniel Agger then blocked Defoe's goal-bound shot before Modric brought White Hart Lane to its feet with his blistering opener after six minutes.

The Croatian, who had been the subject of at least three bids from Chelsea this summer, picked up a loose ball 20 yards out and hammered his strike into the top left-hand corner of Reina's goal.

Referee Jones handed out his first booking of the afternoon to Adam for a foul on the goal scorer.

Liverpool were struggling to get in to the game and at times, their passing was poor.

They thought they had equalized though when Luis Suarez tapped home but the linesman ruled the Uruguayan was offside when he picked up the ball from Andy Carroll.

Agger then hobbled off after slipping and injuring his chest. He was replaced by debutant Sebastian Coates.

Liverpool's afternoon went from bad to worse just before the half hour when Adam caught Parker in the leg with his studs up as the England midfielder went for a volley.

Jones reached for his pocket and issued the second yellow which reduced the visitors to 10 men.

Skrtel, clearly struggling to keep up with Bale's electric pace, saw yellow for a cynical bodycheck on the Welshman.

Like Bale, Adebayor was proving to be a real handful. The striker brushed off Coates and ran towards goal but the defender hacked him down from behind and also earned a booking.

Younes Kaboul and Defoe both came close to making it 2-0 before the break as Spurs' dominance continued.

Suarez was annoyed he did not get a foul on the stroke of half-time after a tussle with Benoit Assou-Ekotto and his protest at the referee earned him a booking.

Reds boss Dalglish, who last week criticized Clattenburg for not giving his side a penalty at Stoke, was furious with Jones and remonstrated with the official as he went down the tunnel at half-time.

Spurs almost scored a minute into the second half when Kyle Walker crossed for Adebayor, who played in the unmarked Defoe his poor shot dribbled wide from six yards.

Liverpool were convinced they should have had a penalty when Carroll thought his jump in the box was impeded by Assou-Ekotto but Probert waved play on.

Liverpool's woes continued in the 63rd minute when Skrtel clipped Bale's heels as he turned to run down the flank.

The former Southampton man punched the turf in apparent pain and Probert sent the Liverpool defender off with a second booking.

Two minutes later it was 2-0. Substitute Rafael van der Vaart sent Defoe racing through the middle, and after holding off Jose Enrique's challenge, the England striker spun and shot low past Reina.

Just two minutes passed before Adebayor scored Tottenham's third.

Reina spilled Defoe's shot and the former Gunners man reacted quickly, lifting the ball over the scrambling Spaniard before tapping in to an empty net.

Liverpool could not get a touch of the ball as Spurs made their numerical advantage count.

With the game well won, Tottenham eased their foot off the accelerator.

Van der Vaart tried a cheeky chip at the other end in injury time but Reina was equal to his effort.

Adebayor then made it 4-0 in the final seconds when he picked up Assou-Ekotto's cross to control and calmly volley past Reina to complete a superb afternoon for Spurs and a miserable one for Liverpool.

Spurs Were Just Better Than Us, Admits Dalglish

Kenny Dalglish refused to criticize referee Mike Jones for sending off two of his players in Liverpool’s heavy defeat to Tottenham.

Dalglish had met with referees’ chief Mike Riley last week to discuss his grievances with a number of decisions in the 1-0 defeat at Stoke.

He argued with Jones at half-time yesterday while the official’s decision to send off Charlie Adam and Martin Skrtel helped swing the game in Tottenham’s favour.

Adam was sent off for two bookings – the second a studs-up tackle on Scott Parker – and Skrtel went in the second half with a second yellow for chopping Gareth Bale.

But Dalglish said: ‘It’s better to leave it. We will just stick to [talking about] what we can dictate.

‘We cannot dictate interpretation [of the rules]. It’s best left unsaid as it takes away from a magnificent performance by Tottenham.’

Luka Modric’s brilliant seventh-minute strike set Spurs on their way and from there they never looked back as Jermain Defoe’s drive and Emmanuel Adebayor’s brace sealed victory.

Modric was unhappy at not being able to move to Chelsea in a £40million move this summer but Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp said: ‘Luka is fine now, he’s just getting on with it.

‘The chairman will sit down with him and discuss his contract. That’s what I’d like to happen. It was a great strike yesterday. That’s why we were offered £40m, because he’s a top player.’

Dalglish Must Consider Dropping £55m Worth Of Talent To Get Reds Back To Winning Ways

Is there any other manager in world football who would have his name chanted on the terraces when his team are 3-0 down and reduced to nine men?

Around 70 minutes had gone on Sunday when Kenny Dalglish held his hand aloft to acknowledge the corner of White Hart Lane where hundreds of Reds supporters sang his name.

The moment encapsulated the unique relationship Dalglish has with Liverpool's fans, who will continue to support him as he seeks to get the team he virtually rebuilt this summer clicking.

But even before Mike Jones produced his first yellow card of the day, Liverpool were outplayed and looked very much a project in development.

This was Liverpool's first truly bad 90 minutes this season and some of that must fall on the team that was sent out.

The decision to restore £35 million striker Andy Carroll to the starting lineup backfired - particularly as Liverpool have been playing with fluidity without him in the side.

The former Newcastle man was cumbersome and often seemed reluctant to chase and hustle for the ball when Tottenham were in possession.

He and Luis Suarez are yet to strike up an on-the-pitch rapport, which the Uruguayan clearly has established with Dirk Kuyt, who was left on the bench.

With the re-acquired Craig Bellamy seemingly chomping at the bit to get on the pitch and possessing the guile and the movement Liverpool sorely missed, the decision to go with Carroll seemed more prompted by his price-tag than his form.

As Liverpool struggled to play the quick, pass and move football which brings out the best in Suarez, the route one approach was favoured as Pepe Reina aimed a succession of long kicks towards the head of Carroll.

Even that approach didn't work and the 22-year-old seems a long way from putting in the kind of menacing performances he showed in the first half of last season.

Meanwhile, estimated £20m signing Jordan Henderson underwhelmed, albeit he was not helped by Charlie Adam's early dismissal.

Elegant in touch he may be, but the England under-21 international regularly looks like a boy amongst men when up against more seasoned midfielders, in this case the impressive pairing of Luka Modric and Scott Parker.

Henderson and Carroll may one day be worth their place in the Liverpool team, but they are both young, raw talents who will need time to find their feet at the club. Their respective price-tags should have no bearing on whether they are selected.

But despite two consecutive away defeats, nobody should be pushing the panic button at Anfield.

The Liverpool squad is stronger and deeper than it was this time last year and there is an even a positive to take from the game in the shape of Sebastian Coates, who showed moments of composure and intelligence, despite being thrown into a maelstrom on his debut.

Dalglish the icon has done enough for Liverpool over the years to receive unconditional love from supporters, but the manager faces some big decisions and with Steven Gerrard nearing his long-awaited return, the axe needs to be sharpened.

"Liverpool Football Club expects more than that," he said yesterday, after refusing to be drawn into another row over refereeing.

Dropping two of his big-money signings might be the way to back up those words with action.

Luis Suarez Issues Rallying Cry To Team-Mates After Tottenham Defeat

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez has issued a rallying cry to his team-mates in the wake of Sunday’s 4-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.

The Merseyside giants were comprehensively outplayed at White Hart Lane and undermined their own efforts to gain a foothold through indiscipline, with Charlie Adam and Martin Skrtel both given their marching orders for two bookable offences.

The result condemned Liverpool to their second defeat in as many games after a 1-0 loss to Stoke last weekend and saw them slip to eighth in the Premier League.

With a League Cup tie against Brighton to come on Wednesday followed by Wolves at home in the Premier League next Saturday, Kenny Dalglish’s men have the perfect opportunity to bounce back from recent setbacks, and Suarez is keen to ensure they do.

“It is not easy to lose like we lost [against Spurs],” the Uruguayan posted on Twitter.

“But we have to work hard to improve. I trust my team partners, come on!

Dalglish Keeps Counsel

Kenny Dalglish would not be drawn on the red cards for Charlie Adam and Martin Skrtel as Liverpool were hammered 4-0 by Tottenham at White Hart Lane.

Referee Mike Jones had little option but to dismiss the pair for two bookable offences, with midfielder Adam departing from the action in the first period after pulling down Luka Modric and then catching Scott Parker.

Skrtel followed after the break for his second foul on Gareth Bale but Dalglish, who voiced his concern over decisions going against the Anfield outfit in the wake of their 1-0 defeat to Stoke last time out, kept his opinions to himself.

Modric had already fired Spurs 1-0 up before Adam departed and the home side ran riot following Skrtel's exit, with Emmanuel Adebayor bagging a brace and Jermain Defoe also on target.

"All we can do is try to improve what is within our scope," Dalglish told Sky Sports.

"There will be a lot of controversy and a lot of comments made about what happened during the game.

"I thought Tottenham started better than we did, I thought they played very well. We never reached the level that we are capable of.

"For us, it's been a bad day on the football side. It's a horrible result. Probably the best performance from anyone at the football club was the fans.

"We gave ourselves a difficult start because we never started properly and if you don't do that and go a goal down then you are going to be in a bit of trouble because Tottenham are a good side.

"Everything else that you probably want to talk about - the controversy and the sendings off - I think we will just leave it."

Malaga To Battle Liverpool & Man City For Real Madrid Outcast

Big spending Malaga are lining up a New Year swoop for Manchester City and Liverpool target Raul Albiol.

The Spain international, who joined Real Madrid for £13m from Valencia in 2009, has fallen out of favour at the Bernabeu and is yet to feature this season.

The 26-year-old is desperate to make Vicente Del Bosque’s squad for next summer’s European Championship finals in Poland and Ukraine and reports in Spain have revealed he is ready to leave the club in January to secure first-team football.

City and Liverpool have both shown an interest in Albiol in the past, while it was also reported that Arsenal considered a bid for him before eventually signing Per Mertesacker in the summer.
But it is Real’s La Liga rivals Malaga who are now favourites to complete a January deal.

The Spanish club was bought by a member of the Qatari royal family in 2010 and has brought in a string of high-profile players over the past 12 months, including Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Joaquin and Santi Cazorla.

And now Malaga manager Manuel Pellegrini, who made Albiol one of his first signings as Madrid boss two years ago, is hoping to link up with the Spain international once again.

England International Desperate To Quit Liverpool

Liverpool midfielder Joe Cole has revealed that he is desperate to make his loan move to Lille permanent, after the England international got off to a flying start for his new club.

Cole - who has struggled at Liverpool since arriving under former Kop boss Roy Hodgson - is now intent on getting regular playing time to potentially reignite his international career.

On his Ligue 1 debut, Cole claimed an assist as Lille brushed aside St Etienne, then impressed once again in a Champions League fixture for the club.

Cole’s transfer marked one of the more eye-catching deals of the summer, with the 29-year-old electing to move away from the Premier League – something rarely embarked upon by English players.

However, the move seems to have reignited Cole’s career, and the flamboyant playmaker now hopes to make the move a permanent one.

“I'll be throwing everything into it. For me as a person, if I go and do something, I do it properly. I'll be moving here lock, stock and barrel.

"There's a few who speak perfect English but I'm going to try and throw myself into it and try and learn the language.

“I’m going to throw myself into it with my wife and my daughter as well.”

Cole now believes that he is within touching distance of his best form, claiming that a full pre-season has given him the right platform to push on for his club, and potentially for his country.

“I've only played one 90 minutes in nine months,” Cole insisted. “I've done a full pre-season but to get to your best, you need games.

"I'm ready to go. If the manager lets me off the leash I'm ready. I just need a run of five or 10 games and I'll be back to my best. I know I made the right choice and I'm happy."

Asked about a possible recall to the England setup, Cole responded: "Of course. I played over 56 times for England. I've loved every minute of it. I would love to be back involved. It's hard to see the lads out there and not be part of it."

Liverpool Loan Star Scores First Goal For AC Milan

Liverpool misfit Alberto Aquilani has quickly settled into life at AC Milan and scored his first goal for the club in the 3-1 loss to Napoli at the weekend.

The midfielder has once again been sent out on loan by Liverpool and is hopeful that come the end of the season he will be able to make his move permanent.

The Italy international is also hoping that Milan could become his new home after impressing in his first few appearances for the club.

Aquilani is currently being employed on the left side of a midfield three and scored his first goal when he gave Milan the lead with a superb diving header.

Unfortunately it was not enough for Serie A champions AC Milan who went on to lose the game, thanks in large to another superb performance from Edinson Cavani who scored a hat-trick.

The Uruguayan striker scored 26 goals last season and has earned a reputation as one of the best strikers in Europe with his superb displays in Italy and for his national side.

With Liverpool suffering a shock 4-0 loss at Tottenham on Sunday, Reds fans will not have been pleased to see one of their loan stars playing so well.

Liverpool was overrun in midfield, with Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson and Lucas all struggling to get a foothold in the game.

However, it is unlikely that Aquilani will play again for the Reds after starting the season in superb form for Milan and admitting that he would like to secure a permanent move back to Italy.

Robinson: Enrique Advice Will Improve Me

Jack Robinson believes Jose Enrique can help mould him into Liverpool's left-back of the future.

The 18-year-old has been impressed by the way the Spaniard has performed since moving to Anfield and is convinced he will continue to develop if he follows the No.3's example.

"Jose is someone I have watched over the last few years and someone who will be a good player for us," Robinson told the Official LFC magazine.

"He's got everything for a left-back, both defensively and going forward. I was made up when we signed him because I realize that he is eight or nine years older than me.

"I can learn a lot from him because he is good at the things I need to improve on; getting a bit tighter to the players I'm marking; stopping crosses going into the box and going forward; dribbling with the ball; being dynamic."

Robinson's rapid rise into the first-team set-up followed a late cameo against Hull City back in 09-10, as well as impressive displays for both the U18s and reserves.

He credits Spanish coach, Rodolfo Borrell for the role he played in his development and feels the club's youngsters in are in safe hands with the former Barcelona man.

"Tactically and technically he's brilliant," he said.

"When you see the players he's coached at Barcelona, people like Messi, you realize you are learning from someone who has taught the very best. He taught me to keep believing and eventually I would get another chance."

That opportunity arose in last season's 1-1 draw with Arsenal.

Fabio Aurelio pulled up with an injury and Robinson was plunged into the action against England winger Theo Walcott.

He said: "The boss just said to me 'you look like you are going to be sick.'

"I told him I thought I was going to be sick right there and then. He just started laughing and told me everything would be fine and to play my normal game. I was so built up on adrenalin, it kept me going through the match. I didn't have time to think about what I was doing."

A first start followed in a 5-0 rout of Birmingham and another appearance in this season's Carling Cup win at Exeter. For Robinson it is all part of a learning curve and one he hopes will one day see him become a regular in the starting XI.

"You see people like Jamie Carragher and the way he trains," he added. "It's the way he plays and leads the team. You realize you can't switch off if you want to stay at the top."