The Big Kill: Liverpool 3 - Spurs 2

Michael Regan

Liverpool finally put one over a top six side, with some luck.

I know I've seen the opposite side of this script. Road side in complete control of a match, overcoming a 1-0 deficit to deservedly take a 2-1 lead in the second half, and looking in complete control. Then a stupefying defensive error, a keeper charging out to where the buses don't run, a finish into an unguarded net. Home side gets a 2-2 draw it scarcely deserves. Seen it before.

What's that? Liverpool won? Off a penalty that Suarez got? You're fucking mad. No way.

In somewhat seriousness, we've bemoaned the "goals change games" mantra from the wrong side countless times. But it's true. Liverpool were pretty good in the opening exchanges, and got a wonderful team goal. But then Spurs regained a foothold, and once they got their first, you kind of felt they would get a second and that would be that.

But once Liverpool were gifted their equalizer, it really felt like only they were going to get a third. It sounds such a stupid and simplistic explanation of football at times, because the object of the whole fucking thing is to score goals. But it can't be much clearer than today's match just how much they can swing the tide of a match.

Liverpool were second best to Spurs for most of the match in most ways. The points-gap between them was pretty evident at times on the pitch. They needed some luck to get back into it. They finally got some. But I suppose a side on the uptick takes advantage when the door is kicked open for it, and doesn't wait around to see if it's ok to charge inside. So we'll take it, because god damn it feels good.

Bullets:

-I don't know where to start. So I'll start with Phillipe Coutinho. There are lots of miles to go before we declare him a star. There are matches to come when managers specifically plan for him. There will be kickings and hard fouls. But right now, you can't ignore the touch and vision. It's still breathtaking to see a player bring any pass under his control and keep the ball at his feet. He sees all the angles while still on the move. He creates space for himself, which might be the true sign of genius. Yeah, he gets muscled out at times, but that's something that can be solved with time and age. It's hard to not get excited.

-I have to admit that I wasn't thrilled with the starting lineup. With Suarez dropping into the hole, it left a gap in midfield in front of Gerrard and Lucas, who were preoccupied with covering up the space that Bale and Sigurdsson and Dembele love to get to. It allowed Parker and Livermore all day. With Spurs playing such a high line, Liverpool needed a midfield runner to expose it. That should have been Jordan Henderson. They also needed Henderson's pressing of the defense and midfield. I didn't see why Downing had to play.

Of course, Downing went on to be man of the match.

With Liverpool bleeding out in midfield in the 2nd half, I was sure that Henderson would be brought on for a fading Coutinho to cauterize. Instead it was Allen. I'd seen Allen in an attacking role before, and I gave it a thumbs down.

But of course, it worked. Suddenly there was more spice and pressure from Liverpool's midfield, and Spurs just didn't have the ball nearly as much.

What do I know?

-Liverpool's defending from set-pieces though.....damn. The first goal stemmed from one, the second directly off. Yes, both were soft free kicks (Gerrard had won the ball). But on the first goal, Bale's cross had four Spurs attackers waiting for it against three Liverpool defenders. How does that happen?

The second? You could probably chalk it up to bad luck a bit. Carragher was hog-tied and couldn't cleanly head away. Bounce fell right to Vertonghen. But Agger or Johnson should have reacted quicker. FIX THIS.

But other than that, Liverpool defended well as only Sigurdsson blasting wide when through and a couple other chances raised the pulse from open play.

-Bale must be the best player in the world now if he's getting those calls.

-I love it when a team protests a penalty decision, but the player who actually committed the foul says nothing. Tells you just about everything you need to know.

-Lucas's passing was off, but his main job of shield hasn't been better this season. Bale and Dembele both had to get wide to get away from him to do much.

-Not Sturridge's best day, but next time he sees a team playing such a high line, he'll wreak havoc. Still opens up space for others.

Whether we like it or not, the chase for 5th is truly on, as Liverpool sit right on Arsenal's shoulder now (though having played a game more). One of the few fixtures we said could get icky is now three points. That 29 of 33 we asked for before the final kick is now down to what, 25 of 29? Still hard to do, but doesn't seem so far out of reach now.

Yeah, I'm excited. I didn't want to be. But I am.

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