23 September 2006

Liverpool 3-0 Tottenham

It’s funny how a game can turn on a single incident. If Jermaine Jenas scored in the 63rd minute, as he well should have, I’d be writing a very different match report. But Jenas shot wide on an absolute sitter after Edgar Davids made a great run, and Liverpool went on to score three in the next 25 minutes. Gonzalez slotting in after Bellamy hit the post, Kuyt in the box after a Garcia pass, and a trademark Riise rocket (it’s great he’s back this soon, by the way) from 40 yards. You can’t complain about that sort of output, but you have to wonder if any of them would have come if Jenas hadn’t missed.

Don’t get me wrong, Liverpool certainly deserved to win the match. But the first half was fairly dreary, and going into halftime I had visions of the last few games against Tottenham, with very few chances and too many draws. There were some oppportunities; Chimbonda’s almost own-goal, Xabi shooting wide, and a penalty appeal, but you never felt like Liverpool had the goal in them. However, in the second half, Liverpool played the best soccer I’d seen them put out this season. But until Jenas missed, and Liverpool scored right away, it still felt like the last Chelsea game where Liverpool bossed possession but still lost out to a nicked goal.

After halftime Liverpool was able to put more pressure on Tottenham mostly because Gerrard saw more of the ball. Granted, the entire team pressed forward harder after the break, and Liverpool made better use of their possession, but I really believe Gerrard was the key. After being fairly quiet throughout the first half, he was involved in more and more of the play leading up to the three chances. It was his pass to Bellamy that led to Gonzalez’s goal, and he was involved in the build-up to Kuyt’s as well. He spent more time in the center, and Finnan compensated by playing more like a wingback when it became obvious Tottenham wasn’t going to offer much down the left flank. Garcia’s entrance also allowed Stevie more time in the center of the park, which only helped Liverpool kill off the game.

I also still really fancy Dirk Kuyt. He looks to be a great one. It was nice to see him get off the mark against Newcastle, and even better to see him continue on here. Robinson had no chance of stopping Kuyt’s shot; if he had gotten a hand to it, that hand would be broken right now. It is obvious Rafa really rates Kuyt as well, as he’s kept Crouch out of the team for four games now, which is very surprising seeing how much Liverpool has played to Crouch’s talents in the past.

Much like Newcastle, Tottenham did not offer much, and it’s still hard to tell how much this team is progressing. There are a number of good signs besides the 5 goals and 6 points; for the most part, the new signings are settling in nicely, we are starting to see a cohesive first team without as much rotation, Liverpool has had more possession, and is getting more useful with their possession, and has kept two straight clean sheets. 10 points from 6 games is a lot better than 3 points from 4 games, that’s for sure.

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