Football is ridiculous. How else could you possibly describe the final stages of the game? I'm sat here the day after and it feels like we've dropped two points even though at one point we looked like leaving Anfield with nothing. Obviously the aftermath has been dominated by the non-controversy of the two penalty decisions. Non because there is no controversy, just ballsy officiating and salty tears of scousers crying at non existent injustice. Buried away in amongst the banter and bile, it seems everyone is skipping the bit where Tottenham displayed bite and deserved more than a single point.
No excuse for the p*ss poor defending at the start of the game. This was the usual sloppy early doors calamity that we often reward our hosts with in these 'big' games. It was cheap and I have no idea what Eric Dier was attempting to do. Salah requires no gift on most days so this was easily the worst start imaginable. Statistically, they don't lose when they've gone behind (at least I think that's the case on their home patch). Yet, aside from one or two moments where our diamond looked more like a dirty piece of coal, we slowly contained and persisted to survive. It was an ugly first half that was replaced with a dominant second. Their fullbacks enjoyed plenty of unrestrained freedom but next to nothing after the break.
There remains a debate as to how much versatility is still required with our approach work in these types of fixtures. Shrewd, almost game killing, tactics are occasionally required even if it means sacrificing some of our more forward thinking philosophies.
Apparently there was no tactically switch when Poch reviewed the game in the dressing room, a case of just keep doing what you're doing (something Kane echoed post-match). The numbers don't lie, 66% possession by end game. That's undeniable. Whilst the hosts lacked the zest of the early minutes we kept knocking at their door. Cue two subs; Wanyama and Lamela and hellloooooo to a switch of personnel that helped to instigate that pulsating finale.
Of all the players, from all places. It's not the type of goal you can predict or work towards. Victor with a thunderbastard for the ages. He hit it with complete purity, as clean as the a*sehole of a cherub. The ball was so surprised it hit the back of the net and flew back out desperately trying to retrace its journey and seek out the lightning that struck. Glorious.
Then, the seethe was birthed.
Honestly, part of me is okay with the final score because we always get unstuck up there. That and the fact that Liverpool fans are in denial over pretty much everything that happened after the equaliser. The Jon Moss and Eddie Smart Show was box office. The seethe was a penalty in our favour.
Kane was played from an offside position onto an onside position because Lovren got a touch of the ball. Suggesting it was offside in the half second before the defender got involved and thus 'it's offside' is borderline ludicrous. Not just because of the laws that govern the game but because THE DEFENDER TOUCHED THE BALL. Smart explaining that Kane was offside if the ball wasn't touched was honesty and Moss giving the penalty even though he wasn't sure Lovren touched it was sh*thousery of world class proportions.
Kane then missed the pen which was possibly the most unbelievable moment in the game. Down the middle, not sure he opts for that too often. We might have won the game and that's disappointing. If there is any complaint with this incident, it's the fact the pen wasn't re-taken thanks to the blatant encroachment before Harry kicked the ball. But that ain't relevant right?
Then before you could say 'you have got to be f*cking kidding me' we're 2-1 down. Lloris having done little to make the goal smaller for the Salah opener drops to the embrace of gravity way too early when the Egyptian danced through our defence, like Moses opening up the Red Sea. Or perhaps he was the red sea, drowning our chariots. The analogy is suffering a stroke which is how I felt watching us 'lose' the game from a should have been winning position. Typical Spurs right? Nope. No. No no no.
Football is a game where top class sides punish other top class sides for the smallest infractions and half yard steps. We should have defended better. We didn't. That's life and death in a game like this. Yet Spurs still played like they played at the start of the second half. We still believed in pushing forward and forcing something, anything to happen. The tempo against Manchester United was superb, brimming with confidence and bullish tenacity. On Sunday, it was stone cold patience. That original trait Poch introduced to the club, that unbreakable spirit. 'Just say no to defeat'. Cue Erik Lamela leaving the Kop end looking like an army of foaming Zammos, collapsed in a heap of oblivion.
The ref doesn't initially give it, the lino does. He spots the kick on Erik's back, tells him it's a pen and the ref points to the spot. Cue more salty tears and cries of 'cheat'. Watch the clearest reply angles and it's blatant. He was kicked, in the pen area. It's a pen. All day long. Twitter then gets treated to some of the worst angles imaginable suggesting it was a clear dive. Imma gonna wait for the Zapruder film based on the Liverpool fans dismay and 'evidence' proving otherwise. Seriously though. Shut up.
Harry Big Balls steps up and buries it. Last kick of the game. Nerves of steel. Ridiculous. Hence the conflicted disappointment. We could have / should have won. We might of / almost lost. Football in a nutshell right there. With the NLD up next, if (when) we win that, then seven points from nine isn't too shabby. The nervous energy is already simmering but nowhere near the p*ss being boiled by everyone that isn't Spurs.
Again, let's not ignore how we dictated so much of the game after a poor start. A good test of character and from looking leaderless to super focused, a nice bumpy reminder that Spurs should be achieving so much more when seeking to game manage (re-actively or otherwise). We are capable of levels we're not quite reaching this season. Which is fine, we've discussed his before. It's not been an easy campaign.
Highlights and talking points:
The aftermath. Honestly, the standard of victimisation and conspiracy the Liverpool supporters are churning out is horrifically comical. Guess this happens when parents give their kids uncensored internet access. The lengths they go to. Talking of which, someone hacked (allegedly) Dele Alli's icloud and shared a picture of him in an intimate position. Well, not that intimate as someone was obviously recording him and a girl friend at the time. The type of position that no doubt most of the virgins crying about the robbery at Anfield have yet to experience. Go on Dele son. Video was an oldie from the looks of it (no tattoos on display). If it's true and it was a Liverpool fan that did the hacking...wow. Kane, change your password and mothers maiden name mate. They're gonna find and share those pics of you and that Tom Brady poster any day now.
From the Extra Inch podcast feed (the more serious sister podcast of The Fighting Cock):
The switch in the second half was vital - Dele playing closer to Kane and Son, allowing us to play vertical passes earlier & break the press. It caused Liverpool to tire quickly & ultimately forced them into subs that stifled them. Meanwhile our subs were all involved in goals.
Eriksen (12.78) and Dele (12.60) ran just about a kilometre more than the next highest runner today. Every single week they run the furthest. Insane athletes. Firminho with an astonishing 101 sprints; next highest on pitch was 89 (Dele).
I really like this. For the minority that still like to dig at Dele because all he does is score goals and he doesn't score goals anymore, astute and quite obvious insight on how that focused and patient play broke Liverpool down during the second half. Both of them were on fire, grafting hard and showcasing that leadership we lacked during the poor first half. The subs we made were also influential on the pace of the game, in our favour, whilst I couldn't tell you what the Liverpool subs were. Completely forgettable.
Loved Harry telling the camera after the game "You can't give me two tries". Also adored Poch protecting the ref and lino at the end from a fuming and hilariously muggy Klopp. Jurgen running 60 yards to celebrate 'the winner' was also golden. Is there a more punchable face in football management? Pardew aside. Wouldn't mind slapping Big Sam. Wenger would get choked out.
Salah is a great player, although the less said about him as a person the better. He's at the perfect football club, they protect those sorts well there.
Dele diving and attaining a yellow card was a bit naughty. Dele loves being naughty. Ooh. He doesn't need to do that, let's not pretend we accept that type of behaviour. I'm talking about the half arsed dive and not baring his arse and other bits on camera.
Van Dijk accusing everyone and everything post-match whilst clearly being obstructed by the £75M price tag waving around in his face. Again, shout out to the Great Unwashed and the 'Lamela looked for the foul by positioning himself to be kicked' brigade.
I've already mentioned the urgency to get back into the game after going 2-1 down but it's worth citing as it illustrates that Spurs do still have that mettle. Need it all the time now, from here to the end of the season.
Harry Kane. 100 league goals. Please, take your time to read this. It's a thing of beauty. Digest every word. Love him even more. Love Poch just as much.
We’ve lost a little edge this season, guess it’s an unavoidable quirk of evolution where you have to retain a freshness in momentum whilst fighting against stagnation. Slowly slowly we might be regaining that never say die trait. Onwards. We have another heart in the mouth occasion on Saturday.