After The Match 


Liverpool-Tottenham 2-2 (1-1)        7.10.07                         PL
Goals: Voronin (12), Torres (90)         Keane (45 & 47)
Team: Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Arbeloa, Pennant, Riise, Gerrard, Mascherano, Torres, Voronin
Subs: Babel (Arbeloa 63), Kuyt (Pennant 69),
Benayoun (Voronin 77)
Not used: Itandje, Leiva
Yellow: Dawson (63)
Red: None
Referee: M. Halsey
Attendance: 43,986
Shots on target: 7-3
Shots off target: 12-8
Blocked shots: 3-2
Fouls conceded: 19-12
Corners: 5-3
Offsides: 1-3
Possession: 48-52
Yellow: 0-1
HEADLINES "We were really poor
in defence..."

    Rafael Benitez

0910: Normal service will be resumed soon
0910: Carra calls for improvement
0810: Finnan baffled by Reds form
0810: Defensive blunders like knife through Reds'...
0810: Gerrard: Dip in form no crisis
0810: Much too early to throw title towel in
0710: Jol still in dark over Spurs future
0710: Benitez baffled by defending
0710: Last-gasp Torres saves Reds

Normal service will be resumed soon

By Ian Rush - Liverpool Echo

Steven Gerrard is spot-on with his remarks in the wake of Sunday’s draw with Tottenham.

Liverpool may have been struggling for form in recent weeks, but it is hardly a crisis right now at Anfield.

And the only way the side will recapture their best form is by sticking together as a team and a squad and working harder than ever to turn things around.

It was only a few weeks ago that Manchester United were supposed to be in something of a crisis after a poor start to the season by their standards.

Now they’ve addressed things at Old Trafford and suddenly everyone is saying they’re going to win the title again.

Of course there is a lot of media attention on a club of Liverpool’s size and expectations are rightly very high.

But we are only a few points behind leaders Arsenal and we have still made our best start to a season in years, despite the recent drop-off in performances and results.

I’m a great believer in judging everything at the end of the season – not now – and that is still an awfully long way off.

There are highs and lows ahead for plenty of teams, not just Liverpool.

There are also plenty of important Premier League points still to play for and the Reds will have big opportunities still to get back to the top and make that title challenge we all want to see.

In my experience, the main thing everyone at Anfield must do is just stick together as one.

When things weren’t going well when I was playing it was so important for us rally round as a team and a squad and fight it together.

It can be easy to form little groups and talk behind each other’s backs, but that is counter productive and I’m sure it won’t happen at the club.

Stevie’s take on it is dead right – and in urging the fans to keep the faith he is perhaps suggesting they too can help play a part.

It would be wrong for fans to lose faith because there are so many class players that I am sure things will pick up and someone will get a hiding before too long.

Things may have dipped but they are far from lost and I for one believe normal service will be resumed.

Benitez will be spurred by first half show

Rafa Benitez got the reaction he was looking for from his players in the first half against Spurs on Sunday.

Against Marseille, Liverpool were so off the mark they barely mustered a shot on goal.

But against Spurs they could easily have been two or three goals up before half time. Those two goals that were conceded really were killer blows, coming as they did either side of half time on 45 and 47 minutes.

And you can understand Benitez’s disappointment with the way they both happened.

To break a team of Liverpool’s quality down you should only do it by playing top quality stuff around them. So to see two goals come from route one punts down the middle clearly upset the manager.

I suspect Tottenham were fearful of trying to build from the back because Torres is so good at closing down defenders.

Hence Robinson, on more than one occasion, pumped it long to try to force the Reds deep.

Sami Hyypia has been so good in the air for so many seasons now that perhaps people just expect him to win those headers all the time. Your sort of take it for granted that Sami will claim everything.

When that doesn’t happen the others around him need to mop things up but twice Keane was able to nip in and, to be fair, finish well.

But give the Liverpool players credit for battling on after those setbacks to finally get the equaliser right at the end.

It was a terrific leap and header from Torres and don’t forget it keeps Liverpool’s unbeaten run intact.

It may not have been the result everyone wanted but it was a much better performance than in midweek.

There were positives to take from it and it does give Liverpool something to build on ahead of the game against Everton in 11 days time. That’s the big one now.

Carra calls for improvement

By Al Campbell - LFC Online

Jamie Carragher says Liverpool need to improve their home form.

This season Liverpool have improved their performances away from home but their displays at Anfield have been disappointing, something that needs immediate improvement according to legend Jamie Carragher.

"The results away from home have been fantastic but it's at home where we've had a few problems. It's something we have to put right. I don't know the reason for it, but we can't go on giving points away at Anfield," said our vice-captain.

"Tottenham played well on Sunday and you have to give them credit for that. In the end we were glad Fernando earned a point for us because it looked as though we were going to lose that game.

"We're just not playing well as a team at the moment. I think we all have to look at ourselves and make sure when we come back for the Everton match that we can find our form again because that is a massive game.

"I know we've had some criticism but that doesn't bother me at all. We're playing for one of the biggest clubs around and so when things aren't going well of course you're going to be criticised. I don't have a problem with that. If you want to play for Liverpool then you have to live with that pressure.

"It's a long season and there's still a long way to go. Don't forget, we're still unbeaten in the league as well. We just have to make sure we win at Goodison in a couple of weeks."

Finnan baffled by Reds form

By David Prentice - Liverpool Echo

Defender Steve Finnan admits he is baffled by the Reds’ recent poor form.

But the Irish international believes Liverpool can use the looming Goodison derby match as a platform to bounce back.

After yesterday's 2-2 draw against Spurs at Anfield, the Reds now face a fortnight's inactivity until they take on Everton in another lunchtime kick-off, and Finnan said: "It's half a dozen games now where we've produced poor performances, but we've got some big games coming up and we've got to get back to the form we were showing earlier in the season.

"There's a feeling of overall disappointment because we didn't play well again and conceding two goals either side of half-time made it difficult for us.

"But it's still early days and we're still unbeaten in the league."

Finnan believes that Fernando Torres' late goal, which preserves Liverpool's unbeaten record in the league, could prove vital to help restore damaged confidence.

"I just swung it in with my left-foot hoping someone would get on the end of it and Nando showed his quality in the air," he added.

"That helps confidence. It's nice to be unbeaten in the league and the fact that we are still unbeaten and still getting results, even though we're not playing well – apart from Wednesday night obviously – will help our confidence.

"We were relieved to score the late equaliser, but also disappointed to drop two points.

"We thought we weren't going to get anything from the game so for Fernando to pop up with a great header was a real relief.

"But overall we're disappointed because we didn't play well again.

"Conceding the two goals either side of half-time made it difficult for us.

"They played well and played some good football.

"But we're disappointed with both goals. Both could have been avoided."

Finnan is one of the many Reds players who will now disappear for an international double header and he said: "I don't know whether the international break has come at a good time or not.

"Sometimes it's good to get away and play a couple of international matches, but we'll have to wait and see."

Defensive blunders like
knife through Reds' heart

By John Thompson - Liverpool Echo

Lies, damn lies and soccer statistics. Or, if you like, pride comes before a fall.

Last week, ahead of that wretched Champions League performance against Marseille and as Liverpool's Premier league form hit the wall, it was being pointed out by those who preferred to see the glass as half full, that the Reds were in the middle of their best defensive run for 30 years.

French league flops Marseille may have punched well above their weight to put a dent in it last Wednesday, but that at least was via a sweet piece of footwork and an unstoppable strike from outside the box.

But yesterday, Liverpool surrendered their supremacy and then almost all three points, too, with defensive lapses which unfortunately will have set alarm bells ringing at Anfield today.

Sami Hyypia deserves to go down in Anfield history as a Liverpool great. For the best part of a decade now he has been a tower of strength on the field, a scorer of some vital goals, a model professional and, as an ambassador for the club, has done it proud.

Never blessed with outstanding pace – though never the slouch such a cruel and thinly disguised observation seemed to suggest – if there was one thing you could always rely upon big Sami for was his sheer dominance in the air.

But yesterday, perhaps as the rigours of a run of appearances caught up with him, Hyypia's aerial invincibility went briefly but crucially missing.

Twice, long, route one punts into his domain saw him contesting balls with Dimitar Berbatov – a man whose feet have a magical and graceful touch to them, but who should not get the better of a towering centre half when the ball is coming out of the sky for them to contest with their heads.

Yet twice Berbatov out manoeuvred Hyypia to the high balls down the middle. And twice the ever dangerous Robbie Keane profited to finish well.

Hyypia is entitled to question the cover behind him – no centre back wins every such ball in every game. But these almost carbon copy goals are the sort that have even lower league managers moaning at their central defenders. Good Premiership sides don't crudely concede possession and goals like these. Certainly not sides with the highest ambitions of all.

Both lapses proved intensely annoying for Benitez as he sent out a side intent on giving him and the supporters the reaction they wanted after the Marseille debacle.

Anyone who somehow expected the Reds to suddenly turn on the style yesterday was frankly expecting too much. The loss of form recently has been worrying and you don't sink as low as Liverpool did last Wednesday only to suddenly rise to the heights five days later in majestic fashion.

All that was expected, indeed required, against Spurs was a more professional display all round, with plenty of heart and soul battling at every challenge and hopefully a well-earned victory to restore some confidence.

For much of the first half, Liverpool gave their manager and their supporters what they wanted, including a goal from Voronin which seemed to steady nerves just as the doctor ordered.

That strike should undoubtedly have been added to before Berbatov gave Hyypia a crafty nudge before beating him to the ball to set up Keane at the Kop end.

It was an annoying, undeserved equaliser for Liverpool to concede. And as they regrouped a half time it must have tested their nerve and resolve, knowing they had to start all over again and respond to the setback in the right way.

But when another defensive lapse let in Keane again, Liverpool utterly lost their way for long periods.

It’s worth perhaps pointing out that the side never lost the support or encouragement of their fans – who showed they aren't quite as fickle in times like these as some elements in the media would prefer them to be.

Lifted by that support, somehow a struggling and often disjointed looking Liverpool kept trying to get back at Tottenham, forcing them deeper into their own half as the final minutes approached. And when Fernando Torres strained his sinews and leaped to meet another perfectly flighted cross from Steve Finnan, there was at least some sense of relief amid the ongoing disappointment.

Torres' late equaliser and the impressive performance from his strike partner Andre Voronin were perhaps the two main plus points to come out of another awkward and unsatisfactory day for Liverpool.

Their arrival at the club, with that of Ryan Babel joining Peter Crouch and Dirk Kuyt, was one of the reasons for all the optimism pre-season – and early season.

Many believed finally Liverpool had added the firepower to mount a realistic title challenge.

Perhaps they have. But what has maybe gone unnoticed until now, is that the squad looks at least a centre half short, too. With Gabriel Paletta so far struggling to make the grade and a young Jack Hobbs yet to emerge, there is a shortage of cover, particularly with Daniel Agger out for some time with his broken foot.

Liverpool are, in consequence, having to rely a bit too heavily on Hyypia and, in truth, Jamie Carragher, too, after he returned to the side earlier than was ideal after his recent broken rib.

So, if there's one area where Rafa Benitez does need cover and potentially another option, then it's surely at centre back.

That’s where any January reinforcements are surely likely to be sought now.

Whether by then Liverpool will have arrested their current decline enough to be within touching distance of Arsenal and Manchester United, we'll have to wait and see.

They are yet well capable of doing so.

But again it's been a weekend when they have surrendered another two points to their main rivals and there's little if any comfort in knowing it might have been three.

Perhaps we now enter one long international break which will not be quite so unwelcome after all at Anfield.

Gerrard: Dip in form no crisis

By Chris Stanton - Setanta Sports

Steven Gerrard admits Liverpool have been below par in recent matches but baulked at suggestions that Rafa Benitez’s team are experiencing a crisis of confidence.

After a bright start to the campaign that culminated with The Reds routing Derby 6-0, Benitez’s team have been decidedly less impressive, winning just two of their next seven matches.

Sunday’s 2-2 draw at home to Tottenham was hardly the expected fillip following the team’s disappointing Champions League defeat to Marseille in midweek.

Gerrard admits Liverpool’s loss of form has given Benitez much to ponder over the two-week international break.

"We haven't been ourselves of late, that's true," Gerrard told Liverpool’s official website. "The results haven't been good and the performances could have been better.

"We're going through a dip in form which all top teams do at some stage and we just have to make sure we play our way through it. We're not performing to the standards we can do but that will change.

"I'm asking the fans to trust me when I say there's no crisis here. We have fantastic players and a world class manager and we will get things right again, there's no doubt about that.

"We've got an international break now which will give Rafa the chance to look at things and work with the players who are staying behind. For those of us going away, we have to get the jobs done with our countries and then come back ready for a massive match at Everton.

"If we can turn in a performance in the derby and win the game then things will be looking better again. That's what we'll be aiming for."

Much too early to throw title towel in

Comment by Nick Smith - Liverpool Daily Post

The lesson should have been learned from the snitches who tried to stitch up Lewis Hamilton’s world title hopes last week.

That is, if you’re going to make a protest, make sure you’ve got a genuine grievance to get worked up about.

And just as Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel were sent out by the FIA with their tails between their legs after failing to get Hamilton’s points total slashed, the supporter who threw his scarf onto the pitch before leaving Anfield early yesterday got similar just desserts.

Instead of joining in the celebrations on the terraces, the scarf-chucker was probably stood forlornly on Anfield Road, staring back at the stadium wondering what the roar rising from it was all about.

For that hasty fan’s information, it was all about Fernando Torres’s equaliser. One that preserved a record of one home league defeat in two years as well as Liverpool’s unbeaten record in the Premier League this season.

In fact, Liverpool would have still been in fourth place even if Torres hadn’t made it 2-2 in the injury time that so many other supporters decided to give a miss.

And they’re better off points and position-wise than they were this time last year, thanks chiefly to sound investment by their manager, not only with the record signing of Torres but fellow scorer Andriy Voronin, who he got for a more than reasonable-looking nothing.

But ill-advised tantrums aside, there must be some validity to many Anfield regulars’ misgivings about how much closer Liverpool really will get to that elusive 19th title this season.

The midweek defeat to Marseille was dreadful but not damaging in the long term, particularly if the double header against Besiktas can be negotiated successfully. The Champions League situation can be rectified.

As, indeed, can the mind-numbing simplicity of the defending Liverpool should have executed to prevent Robbie Keane netting the first goals in open Premier League play to find their way past Pepe Reina this season.

What, however, can’t be altered are the standards Liverpool need to reach to maintain the championship ambitions that the summer spending spree ushered in with such fanfare.

There have been so many times this season when, despite such a relatively encouraging start, that it has fallen decidedly flat.

Because while Liverpool have looked to be making a few steps forward, they’re just not quick enough to keep up with the frightening pace their predicted rivals for title honours are setting ahead of them.

Before yesterday Liverpool had impressively kept five consecutive clean sheets in the Premier League. But on Saturday Manchester United went one better with six in succession as the 4-0 win over Wigan also suggested that, to add to that new-found defensive steel, the shining lights of their attack are ominously back to full power.

United made a sloppy start to the season that was in stark contrast to the goal glut Benitez’s men emerged from the blocks with, but on Saturday lunchtime there the champions were, back at the top of the table once again.

Only to be overtaken yesterday by a side who suffered similar problems on their own ground by conceding two goals to Sunderland. Yet Arsenal responded by finding enough to take all three points and maintain their own unbeaten record.

An indication that they and United are already finding the ruthless edge champions must have to make that key difference – Liverpool aren’t.

They’ve barely even managed to take advantage of the mini-crisis Chelsea have suffered and before Torres struck they were due to go into the international break level on points with the one side from last year’s top two that really are there for the taking this time.

Failing to convert one point into three in three-quarters of their home games this season is at the centre of this struggle to put a marker down in the opening two months of the campaign.

It’s a pattern that needs addressing and the next Anfield league game against those leaders from London would be the ideal time.

That’s why the manner of how Torres came to the rescue yesterday means dropping two points at home can, on this occasion, be just about tolerated. But they can’t afford many more.

And it’s also why this is no time for littering the pitch with stuff like scarves or shredded season tickets – although nobody will be spraying it with champagne or ticker tape any time soon either.

Jol still in dark over Spurs future


Martin Jol admitted he does not know what his future holds after Tottenham made it six games undefeated with a deserved point at Liverpool.

The Spurs chief has been under pressure all season as Spurs have struggled around the foot of the table.

But they produced another spirited display and were leading against Liverpool until the second minute of injury time when Fernando Torres' header forced a 2-2 draw.

A Robbie Keane double had put Spurs in control, but Jol insisted: "I do not know about the future, I do not pull the strings and I do not have any control over the scenario. If I did, everything would be quiet.

"But see my team, they want to fight and they fight every game. The players always stay the same, it is very positive."

Andriy Voronin put Liverpool ahead early on, but Spurs attacked constantly and looked as if they were heading for their first Anfield win since 1993.

Jol said: "We could not get the third (goal), we had the breaks and that would have ended it. I just couldn't understand how we didn't achieve that.

"Everyone has said we deserved to win, and that is how we feel. In particular in the second half we were on top of them and caused a lot of problems.

"That was good. They had suffered a bad defeat against Marseille in midweek and we knew they would want to do better and we expected a difficult match.

"Then we conceded a goal like that at the beginning, which didn't help, I felt we did well to come back into the game. We raided quickly, were strong in midfield and Robbie Keane scored a couple of good goals.

"But in the end it was a bad result for us. But we have got a great spirit, everyone can see that, we have done a lot of travelling in midweek to Cyprus and then up here to Liverpool.

"It has been a difficult time for us. But we took a lot of confidence from this."

Benitez baffled by defending

By Peter Fraser - Sky Sports

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez was at a loss to explain his side's defensive display in the 2-2 draw with Tottenham.

The Reds took the lead in the 12th minute when Andrei Voronin fired home, but Robbie Keane then tore the home defence apart in copy cat style to give Tottenham the lead.

Fernando Torres rescued a late point for Liverpool, but Benitez was more concerned with the adrift defending which allowed Keane to latch on to flicks from Dimitar Berbatov.

Torres' late show saved Liverpool from their second home defeat in five days, following Wednesday's UEFA Champions League loss to Marseille, and Benitez is unimpressed.

"We were really poor in defence," Benitez told Sky Sports News.

"It is difficult to explain because we have a very good record, but there were two big mistakes today.

"Also we had chances in attack, so I think that it was a very disappointing day.

"At least the team was playing well in the first half, creating chances and controlling the game.

"At the end when we scored it showed good character, that is the only thing."

Last-gasp Torres saves Reds

By Joseph Caron Dawe - Setanta Sports

Fernando Torres scored a late goal to salvage a point for Liverpool as Rafa Benitez’s side rescued a 2-2 draw from the jaws of defeat at Anfield on Sunday.

Andriy Voronin gave Liverpool the lead in the 12th minute before Robbie Keane struck either side of half time to put Spurs in front.

Martin Jol’s side looked to have held out for a momentous victory, but Torres rose at the far post in the dying moments to snatch a point for The Reds.

Keane's brace led an inspired comeback to guide Jol’s men to within a minute of only their second Premier League win of the season before being cruelly denied by the Spain international.

The signs had looked ominous for Spurs and Jol when Voronin gave Liverpool the lead as he gobbled up a Paul Robinson spill to fire Rafa Benitez’s side into the lead.

However, a dogged performance from Spurs produced a quickfire double, but for all their fight and determination they could not keep Torres out as he displayed why he is such a vital player for Liverpool with an injury-time equaliser, rising at the far post to meet Steve Finnan’s cross and nod past a flailing Robinson.

Gareth Bale went within inches of giving Spurs the lead after barely two minutes when he bent a free kick around the wall after Voronin had felled the impressive Didier Zokora, but it was the home side who took the lead with the game’s first effort on target.

Voronin’s goal came after Jermaine Jenas fouled Steven Gerrard on the edge of the area, and The Reds’ captain took the set piece himself.

Gerrard’s shot was spooned out by Robinson and Voronin was first on the scene to put Liverpool in front from close range.

Keane tried to inspire Spurs into an immediate fightback with a flicked header from a Jenas free kick on the right, but the ball crept past the far post untouched.

Torres went within a foot or so of doubling Liverpool’s lead when he shot wide as half an hour approached, and Gerrard almost went one better when he rattled the post with a free kick which had Robinson well beaten.

Dimitar Berbatov kept the end-to-end action flowing as he went painfully close to equalising after a delightful move involving Zokora and Keane. The Bulgarian’s strike partner played a brilliantly deceitful flick which allowed Berbatov to stab the ball past Jose Reina. Jamie Carragher was on hand to divert the ball as it trickled into a gaping net as the game continued to entertain.

Voronin then squandered a glorious chance to net his, and Liverpool’s, second when he opted for some inexplicable reason to square back to Gerrard instead of hammer home after Torres opened Spurs up with one of his trademark runs. By the time the England international was able to get a shot off Michael Dawson was there to block and a single goal remained between the sides.

In a premonition of Spurs' imminent equaliser Berbatov attempted to set Keane up with a nodded header as Sami Hyppia arrived to clear the danger, but on the stroke of half-time the Republic of Ireland international could not be stopped as he got between Carragher and Steve Finnan to bag his third league goal of the season.

Berbatov beat Hyppia to a long ball and his headed connection saw Keane steal in and poke past Reina with a deft touch for a much-celebrated finish.

Incredulously, Spurs scored a carbon-copy of the goal two minutes into the second half as yet again Berbatov and the effervescent Keane linked to allow the latter to nip in and give Spurs the lead.

Having not conceded in open play in the league this season, Liverpool found themselves two down in such a short space of time. Questions were being asked of the home side and the answers were not forthcoming.

Reina came well out of his area to shepherd Berbatov away from goal as Spurs characteristically looked dangerous on the attack, but with their prowess up front the Londoners continue to appear less than assured at the back, despite a fine show from Dawson.

Liverpool started to build some momentum as the game entered its final 20 minutes, but for their hurried attempts to break Spurs down Zokora stood firm in the middle as he persistently held firm to complement Dawson’s strength behind him.

The centre back was on hand to save Robinson’s blushes as the Spurs keeper spilled a Finnan shot with Torres lurking menacingly 15 minutes from the end, and the England number one pulled off a good reaction save to deny Javier Mascherano at his near post as full time approached with haste.

The Argentinian was not far off with a long-range shot as it looked like it was not to be Liverpool’s day, but Torres stepped up to the plate to deliver in the second minute of injury time, beating Dawson and Chimbonda in the air to leave Spurs deflated.

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Thor Zakariassen ©