Tottenham did it the hard way on Wednesday evening against Liverpool, holding on through the second half after Gareth Bale had provided the early inspiration which had Spurs two ahead in the first sixteen minutes. The win takes Spurs into fifth place, above Arsenal and Everton and three points behind West Bromwich Albion and Chelsea.
Tottenham Hotspur 2 Liverpool 1
Scorers: Lennon, Bale Bale (o.g)
Team: Lloris; Walker, Gallas, Dawson, Vertonghen; Sandro, Dembele (Huddlestone); Lennon, Dempsey (Sigurdsson), Bale; Defoe Subs: (unused) Friedel, Livermore, Townsend, Naughton, Carroll
The only changes from last weekend’s win over West Ham saw William Gallas replace Steven Caulker in central defence and Mousa Dembele start his first match for Tottenham since the beginning of October. His presence in central midfield was evident in the first half as Spurs made a good start to the game. It was Bale, however, who brought the game to life in the opening moments causing the Liverpool defence considerable problems. Spurs started by pressing the visitors quickly and it paid instant dividends. A Bale free-kick was palmed away by Reina and was cleared with difficulty for a corner as Jermain Defoe tried to make contact.
Defoe then pressured Liverpool inside the Spurs’ half and set Bale off on a run on the left. With defenders backing off, Bale fired a shot across goal and just past the far post. On seven minutes, Bale got away again but this time his cross was met at the far post by Aaron Lennon who put it beyond Reina. Every Spurs fan was now content in the knowledge that Spurs wouldn’t lose – ‘Lennon had scored!’
Liverpool were rattled but had shown they would be a threat as Hugo Lloris saved from Suarez and Henderson missed an open goal as Kyle Walker’s attempted clearance after Lloris had raced out of goal fell to him but he put it wide. At the other end Henderson fouled Clint Dempsey and Bale’s free-kick deceived Reina and into the goal. Spurs play was pacy and slick in the opening half an hour but it is impossible to play a pressing game for the whole match and gradually Liverpool grabbed more control as the half wore on.
After the interval, Spurs tended to sit back and invite Liverpool pressure. Sloppy passes out of defence and long clearances when under pressure simply handed the ball back to Liverpool who continued to dominate possession (65% by the end of the match). Lloris was the busier goalkeeper with Reina having a relatively quiet evening after the opening skirmishes. With Dembele lacking match fitness Liverpool took greater control in midfield but were unable to find a way through on goal.
Just as Spurs supporters were hoping their team could find a third goal before Liverpool would get their inevitable strike, the visitors pulled one back and again Bale was involved. From a corner, Lennon, positioned on the post, cleared Gerrard’s header off the line but it smacked Bale in the face and rebounded into the net. Spurs fans had a nervous final eighteen minutes but they held out. JUST!!!
Brendan Rodgers felt Liverpool should have taken something from the game and Andre Villas-Boas tended to agree with him in his post-match press interviews..
“Brendan feels a fair result would have been a draw – I have to agree. We did extremely well to hold on to the lead. We got the result we wanted. The players have shown great strength and character throughout the season.”
The win for Tottenham was their sixth consecutive success over Liverpool at White Hart Lane in all competitions and ended the visitor’s unbeaten November, being their first loss in eight Premier League matches. By winning Tottenham maintained their record of not having lost in any game in which Aaron Lennon was among their goal scorers. Next up, Fulham at Craven Cottage tomorrow afternoon.