Sunday, 31 August 2014

Spurs v Liverpool Observations

In an all too familiar outcome between these two sides, Liverpool ripped Tottenham Hotspur apart at White Hart Lane.  In a battle between two Bielsa inspired coaches, the British overcame the South American as Brendan Rodgers charges out thought the team from North London.
Here are my takeaways from the game:

1. A Sterling performance
Raheem Sterling showcased perhaps his best overall performance of his career today. His pace was lightning but coupled with technical nuance and intelligence.  Sterling provides a touch of flair and pizazz to the team and has an eye for goal to add to his repertoire. It is safe to say that Rodgers is nurturing his talent correctly and if he remains at this level he will become one of the great English players.

2. No Dier call up
A few people were surprised by the exclusion of Eric Dier from the most recent England squad of Roy Hodgson this week, however, on a few occasions Dier's naivety was in evidence against the incisive passing of Liverpool. This lead to him conceding the penalty leading to Liverpool establishing a two-nil lead. His outstretched arm on Joe Allen was rightly penalised but it was more an indication of the training method employed at youth football, where players are taught to pull a shirt to stop forward progress. It might have been a 'soft' penalty but you will be surprised if Dier attempts again.

3. Mario will soon be Super
Mario Balotelli failed to score on his debut and he was quite ring rusty with some headers and a long range shot that he shanked terribly, but there were glimpses of a new emphasis on teamwork for the 24 year old Italian; he tracked back to tackle and do the nitty gritty and his strength was his strength against Younes Kaboul although his lofted pass was counter productive for the run of Sterling. The link up will prosper eventually and Super Mario shall return.

4. Over-manned midfield
Mauricio Pochettino was out manned in his midfield selection. His attempt for continuity in selection by starting the same XI that defeated QPR so convincingly last weekend, played into the hands of the Anfield club who had captain Steven Gerrard, the motor Jordan Henderson and Rodgers lynchpin Joe Allen faced the less than fearful Capoue and Nabil Bentaleb, who were outgunned and overpowered. Whilst he is out of favour the presence of Sandro might have made Liverpool think about a more combative approach. However, even an under par Gerrard did not have much to do as no pressure was forthcoming from a weary Tottenham side.
Perhaps Pochettino needs to focus more on motivation rather than tactical philosophies as Tottenham seem to currently freeze against fellow top 6 sides.

5. Mouth watering versus Madrid
The Champions League draw threw up the tantalising prospect of Real Madrid v Liverpool in back-to-back games at the Bernebeu and Anfield. These two encounters promise to be played at a neck break pace full of speed and passion at two footballing cathedrals, no need to pray, the prayers have been answered.

Follow me on twitter @JamieGarwood

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