Yup, bipolar Spurs were doing their dullard passive routine in the first half and then their hyper all action routine in the second half, yet again, but this time Cote didn’t get away with it.
So far this season Spurs have played 6 of the other 7 teams that currently fill the top 8 places in the league. From a possible 18 points, they have just four. A draw with Chelsea and a win against Brighton.
The games against Arsenal, Man U and the first half against Liverpool were shockingly embarrassing. The happy clappers were stating after the dismal performance at Old Trafford that Spurs shouldn’t expect to do well against a team like that. They lost to Villa at the weekend.
Liverpool were coming off a two game losing streak in the league, losing to bottom of the table Forest and to lower table, then struggling, Leeds. They hadn’t won an away game. A defence that was floundering, a defence full of recrimination. A team that was there to attack, especially at Spurs home ground.
But no. Conte sent them out with the old flat back 10 routine. A routine that Conte has seen fail in the first half against the likes of Bournemouth . But no Spurs sit back and just fill the opposition full of confidence.
Again Conte fielded a starting IX instead of an XI. Emerson and Sessegnon filling the wingback places. I saw someone state that Emerson is picked because he can run fast. Well, he can but when he’s up the pitch he tends to amble back. Also that Emerson is always in space, well yes, that’s because no opposition rate him. They know he can be left alone, he’s not going to hurt you more than likely he’ll play his own side into trouble, that’s if he’s not just giving the ball away. Via a bad pass, or a cross that flies out for a goal kick or a throw in.
Sessegnon ain’t much better on the left. It didn’t work him there and Perisic up front with Kane. But it was Emerson that Liverpool targeted. They started on their right but quickly got the ball to all that space where Emerson should have been if he hadn’t been tight up against Dier, as Spurs just sat off, as the ball is played into the box, there’s three red shirts to four white and yet Salah is all on his lonesome as the ball, he’s still like that when the ball is squared to him for a far too easy goal.
Spurs could have been level shortly after. Again it’s Kane putting in a ball that Kane would love to be on the end of. His cross was headed off the keeper onto the post by Perisic. Then they should have had a penalty. Perisic winning the ball he played the ball into the box for the charging Sessegnon – yes he can run – who was pushed in the back by the floundering Alexander Arnold – he was all arms and grabbing, all game. It’s a foul, it always has been. Yes football is a contact sport but pushes in the back have never been allowed. It was such a penalty that the four ex-footballers pundits I saw talk about the game said it was. Now they normally haven’t a clue but this was so obvious. But of course VAR didn’t see it that way.
What is more a clear and obvious error than getting something completely wrong? But it’s Spurs, it’s Liverpool. It would have been like the Man City game the day before, a penalty and a red card but the officials bottled it.
The eventual winner came from one of those predictable and oh so regular defensive mistakes. This time a hump up the park from Liverpool’s keeper – under no pressure – Dier – under no pressure – tries to head the ball back to Lloris. It was a shocker by Dier, he was halfway in his own half, to far away from the box to be trying this, even if Hugo was on the edge of the box, which he wasn’t. Even if he’d made decent contact with the header, not headed it off his own shoulder. Again it was far too easy for Salah to score.
From getting back into the England squad, Dier has been awful in defence.
It was screaming out for half-time changes, but of course none came but there was that usual post break lift in tempo. All of a sudden Spurs could press. They could be further up the park. Dier went from camped on the edge of his own box to being camped in the Liverpool half putting in decent crosses, Bentancur went from having to cover for Emerson – a complete waste of his talents – to being a fixture in the Liverpool box. They could look like a team that was bothered, that actually wanted to play and try and win.
People, like Graeme Souness are asking why some are coming out against Conte. This is why. Why can’t he send his team out to play like they did in this second half, for a whole game? No, you’re not gonna dominate for the whole game but you’re at least gonna be in it. Not giving the opposition a free ride and easy goals for 45 minutes. When you’re facing a team that’s low on confidence, you’re not going to lift them up. With players like Spurs have, attack is the only form of defence.
Also Conte watches this not working and keeps on doing the same thing. Playing Emerson. Well, things really got got better the moment he removed Emerson and thankfully Sessegnon at the same time.
It took Conte 70 minutes to make a change. It took 83 seconds for the returning Kulusevski to make the difference. Oh how we’ve missed the Ginger Swede. Linking up with Doherty, who came on with him – the pair did seem to link up well before various injuries – he played the perfect ball through to Kane who didn’t hesitate but banged the ball past the keeper.
From here it was Liverpool with a flat back 10. It was all Spurs, though Kulusevski wasn’t seeing as much of the ball as you’d like. He did put one ball through that would have been glorious but for a late interception.
This is why we’re angry with Conte. You could start games like this, not wait until you’re two behind because like this game things don’t come your way. You don’t always get the rub of the green. Posts are hit instead of the back of the net. Crosses are just missed instead of being met by a thundering header.
I said in the last post that the rope-a-dope won’t always work and when it doesn’t it highlights what a complete waste that first half was. What if Spurs had attacked the visitors and gone in at the break two up, Liverpool having to commit and all that space opening up in the second half. What ifs because Conte is committed to this dullball routine, that’ll see Leeds run all over them for the first half next weekend… Marsch doesn’t send his team out to flat back 10 it.