Liverpool 0 Tottenham 0: Lessons from an Anfield stalemate
What lessons can we take from a closely fought stalemate between Liverpool and Tottenham at Anfield on Monday night?
The audition for England’s right-back position
With Fabio Capello in attendance, Glen Johnson, Martin Kelly and Kyle Walker all looked to impress the Italian ahead of Euro 2012. Johnson, perhaps in pole position for the right-back role, was asked to fill in for the absent Jose Enrique on the left side of defence and the 27-year-old nullified Walker’s attacking threat. In turn, while the Spurs defender’s trademark surges forward were ineffective, he ensured the in-form Craig Bellamy left only a minimal impact on the game. Martin Kelly, while unlikely to reach this summer’s European Championships, also impressed as he kept Gareth Bale quiet, forcing the Welsh midfielder to switch to the right after the break.
Despite another frustrating night for Liverpool at Anfield, Kenny Dalglish’s tactics were spot on as Charlie Adam and Jay Spearing both provided a shield for the Reds’ rearguard, freeing up Steven Gerrard from his defensive duties. It’s no coincidence Andy Carroll’s performances have drastically improved over the past month since Gerrard made his comeback from injury, and the Liverpool captain’s link-up play was excellent. Luis Suárez’s return provides Dalglish with genuine attacking options after Gerrard’s previous groin problems and the Uruguayan’s ban hampered the Reds.
Dawson nullifies Carroll’s threat
Without Harry Redknapp and a string of first-team players, Tottenham looked to be in for a difficult night on Merseyside, facing a Liverpool side fresh from successive victories. But Michael Dawson, making only his second Premier League start in a month, comfortably handled Liverpool target man Carroll, while excelling alongside Spurs stalwart Ledley King. The centre-half’s display was epitomised in the fifth minute, when he made a exquisitely timed sliding tackle on Carroll with the Reds forward seemingly through on goal.
Parker and Livermore impress for Spurs
In a refreshing change from the European feel to the top flight in recent seasons, there were a total of seven British representatives in the midfields of Liverpool and Tottenham on Monday. Spurs duo Scott Parker and Jake Livermore were key as the visitors earned a hard-fought point at a ground where they have traditionally struggled. Parker was superb in halting Liverpool’s attacks – and his distribution was flawless, perhaps serving as a lesson for Adam and Spearing, who were wasteful in possession. Meanwhile, Livermore, 22, slotted in effortlessly next to Parker and complimented his midfield partner in the absence of Rafael van der Vaart.
The Anfield cat’s cameo
Arguably the most exciting moment at Anfield came when a cat found its way onto the pitch and darted into Brad Friedel’s penalty area, rivalling Carroll for a quick turn of pace. The cat was eventually rescued by a friendly steward but it soon became an instant sensation on Twitter, with the “Anfield Cat” boasting its own profile and then proudly proclaiming, “In my three minute cameo I’ve ran past more players than Stewart Downing has all season.”