Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur – as it happened

Liverpool moved above Everton into sixth in a breathless game that was sealed by a Steven Gerrard penalty


Michael Oliver blows his whistle very hard to make it heard above the celebrating Liverpool fans and that, readers, is that. The home fans are making a right old din showing just how much it means for them to a) move above Everton into sixth and b) beat a 'top' team for the first time in the league this season. Suárez and Dembele are having a bit of beef as they leave the pitch and have to be separated. It must have something to do with the exchange they had prior to Liverpool's winning goal. In that incident they grabbed each others' faces and said a few less than kind words, one assumes. I presume this daft posturing is a continuation of that. Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker are on hand to put an end to it. A draw would have been a fair result, but I'm sure Liverpool would have said the same after they were beaten at White Hart Lane. And in the great Street Fighter 2 face-off between Luis Suárez and Gareth Bale, the former won comfortably. His first-half penalty and all-round peskiness proving too much for Gareth Bale, who influenced the game all right, but not to the extent of the Uruguayan. Thanks for your emails. Ta ra.


90+2 min: You'll Never Walk Alone rings out around Anfield and the jig looks to be up for Spurs. Downing keeps possession in the right corner and a breathless match looks to have run its course.

90 min: Spurs are committing men forwards and leaving the cupboard very bare behind them. Liverpool are looking to launch the ball forwards to Suárez whenever they gain possession and catch them out.

Substitutions: Carrol on for Assou-Ekotto for Spurs. Henderson on for Sturridge for Liverpool.


88 min: Gerrard and Vertonghen clash in the middle of the pitch. Spurs emerge with the ball, which is worked out to Bale. He whips a cross in from the right but Carragher clears.

87 min: "Maybe the Kop was right with that chant. Downing has outscored Bale," offers Captain Corduroy.

86 min: Liverpool should have had another penalty there. Johnson nicked the ball away in front of Vertonghen, who went to ground and clearly took the Liverpool defender's feet. Liverpool continue to pile forwards …

85 min: Liverpool are going at this as if they need to claw back a two-goal aggregate disadvantage. Spurs are back on their heels. It's refreshing to see.

Goal! Spurs 2-3 Liverpool (Gerrard 83 pen)

But then Defoe, under pressure, miscontrols and flicks his foot at the ball in an attempt to poke it clear, but he only manages to direct it behind him towards Suárez (not the best idea), who advancing into the penalty area. He chests the ball in front of Assou-Ekotto and is caught by a few of the Spurs defender's appendages as he tries to race past him. He tumbles to the turf. And Oliver points at the spot. Gerrard, after missing a penalty very recently, coolly slots home into the right corner.


79 min: The game's got a bit of needle in it now to add to the endeavour being shown by both sides. Suarez and Dembele get involved in a bit of face flicking and Liverpool win a free-kick. Gerrard whips it in but Spurs clear …

76 min: Liverpool just had a very good shout for a penalty there. Sturridge collected a pass on the inside-right channel 25 yards from goal. He advanced into the box flanked by Vertonghen, only to take a kick to his standing leg from the Spurs defender. He leaps into the air a bit theatrically but it is a foul. And should be a penalty. Vertonghen is very lucky.

75 min: "Gareth Bale versus Gerrard just then. Anyone reminded of Zlatan skinning John Terry? That was frightening. The passing of the baton," reckons Paul Ewart. 

71 min: The match has leapt to life. Spurs are charging forwards at will as are Liverpool when they're in possession. It's a very convincing impression of a Cup match on Cup weekend. Sturridge hits the sidenetting with a header from four yards out on a very narrow angle after a cross was lofted into him from Downing on the right. Then Bale should do much better with a header that skids off his forehead from six yards after he had got a jump on Agger in the box. Sturridge and Suárez fail to combine in other assorted attacks in a breathless few minutes.


69 min: Sturridge comes to life with a rampaging run down the inside right channel but Vertonghen shows class, using his head to let the Liverpool striker perform a Cruyff turn and a flick before timing his interception to perfection and emerging with the ball on the edge of the six yard box.

Goal! Spurs 2-2 Liverpool (Downing 66)

They can. It's Spurs who make the howler at the back that leads to a goal. That's reverse football bingo. Walker, for some reason only known to him, decides to hoik a pass back towards Lloris from the right touchline that bounces in front of the Spurs keeper. The Frenchman, unwisely, tries to knock it past Downing to Assou-Ekotto, but he flicks a lame boot at it and Downing nicks it away from him and advances on goal. Vertonghen stands before him on the touchline and Downing is quite lucky to blast it through the defender's legs with his right foot. That could so easily have been blocked but kudos to Downing for hitting it hard, at least.


63 min: Did I say there goes my Pulitzer. That wonky scoreline down there probably did for that. Damn. Anyway, this is exactly the kind of situation that Liverpool struggle to deal with. Can they come back?


61 min: I wonder if I can Photoshop Vertonghen's head on to that pic at the top. There probably isn't time. Ah well. There goes my Pulitzer.


59 min: Liverpool have gone to pieces somewhat. Spurs look mean, ruthless and ready to pounce on any loose ball. Dembele stings the palms of Jones after some neat footwork to create the opening for himself on the edge of the box. Then Allen gives the ball away with his first touch and causes all kinds of panic down the left flank. 

58 min: Liverpool substitution – Coutinho off and Allen on. Seems an odd one to me. Coutinho looked a creative threat and hadn't done anything wrong, particularly. Fitness?


56 min: Spurs have got it on them now. Bale absolutely annihilates both Gerrard and Carragher for pace on the right wing, getting to the byline and clipping a ball to the back post where Sigurdsson has got free of Johnson (not a difficult task today). He takes one touch and drives towards Jones's near post, but Johnson deflects his shot on to the post. The corner comes to nought.

Goal! Spurs 2-1 Liverpool (Vertonghen 53)

This is abject defending from Liverpool. Worse than the first in my opinion. But a sweet finish from the Spurs defender, who does it again. Lucas gave away a debatable foul between the halfway line and 18 yard box, clawing at Bale's shoulder. Bale whipped it in reasonably well, but it wasn't a fantastic ball by any stretch. Dawson jumps in Carragher's way, causing the Liverpool defender to head weakly down instead of high and away from goal. Then Vertonghen peels off Johnson again and slams home a left-footed strike from 12 yards that Jones could only watch go into the left hand corner of his goal. It could have been cleared before he got his shot away in my humble one.


50 min: Action. First Suárez gets away from Assou-Ekotto on the right and crosses towards Sturridge. He has a good chance to control and shoot but his first touch is poor, bouncing off him behind him where he could retrieve the ball but doesn't really bother two. Then …

49 min: Daniel Sturridge has been pretty quiet so far today. He's doing a lot of running but seeing very little of the ball, thus far. Gerrard tries to find him with a disguised pass from the centre circle, curled in at him in an attempt to send him behind the centre-backs rather than around them. But it's cut out.

48 min: Liverpool play a very risky game of triangles at the back once more. They're kind of loading the gun and pointing it at their foot, but not quite pulling the trigger.

47 min: Coutinho makes a couple of handy tackles over on the left touchline. He's a lovely player to watch. He seems to be able to make the game slow down when he's in possession. And that's no mean feat in the high octane Premier League.

45 min: We're back underway. Hopefully the second half will be as entertaining as the first. it was an intriguing clash of styles. We almost have a bingo point as Lucas almost gets caught in possession by Defoe, but just manages to nick his pass away to Johnson before the Spurs striker can tackle him.

I've just seen a replay of what should have been a certain penalty for Liverpool in the first half just after they had gone 1-0 up. Suárez had played a fizzed-in cross between the defenders and keeper, and Coutinho was clearly pulled back by Walker. I can understand why the referee didn't give it, though, as the break was so fast that Oliver couldn't keep up with play and didn't have the best view.

An email

"Here's a bingo point: guessing to within two minutes when Bale will score the winner," offers Seamus Devlin.


So that cross from Bale wasn't quite a Ha Dou Ken but was probably more of a spinning helicopter kick in the world of Streetfighter 2. A very effective weapon if not quite a killer blow. What a time for Spurs to score too. Liverpool edged the half but Spurs looked more and more dangerous as it wore on. They were good value for the equaliser when it came.


Goal! Liverpool 1-1 Spurs (Vertonghen 45)

Liverpool's defending of crosses leads a lot to be desired once more. However, it is a fine cross from Bale on the right, who picks up a short pass back to him from Defoe. A vicious whipped in ball heads for the backpost where Vertonghen leaps above Johnson, who makes a half-hearted attempt to throw his hip in the way of the Spurs defender's run, but can't stop him glancing the ball into the far corner. Game on.


42 min: Gerrard is given a talking to by Oliver after winning a header against Bale, but catching Bale with his arm. Gerrard's head made a clean connection with the ball and his arm followed through. But I don't see how he could have avoided catching him as he has a run into his jump, whereas Bale was standing.

39 min: This is Spurs' best passage of play. They are steadily creating more chances and forcing Liverpool's midfield to drop deeper. Assou-Ekotto shoots straight at Jones under pressure from Enrique on the left-hand side of the 18-yard box. Oh, and moments later Parker catches Suárez with a late tackle. But there isn't much in it. I think Suárez made more of it that he needed to – perhaps because he has had a few elbows in the back in previous challenges with Spurs defenders.


36 min: Sigurdsson goes inches wide after dragging his right-footed shot somewhat when he should have done much better. Bale created it with a flick that even the legendary Liverpool winger Stewart Downing would have been proud of.


34 min: "You're just a shit Stewart Downing," sing the Kop in Bale's direction. That's irony of the highest order. Poor Stewart. He's playing too. And doing OK.


32 min: Liverpool are having to do some robust defending at present. Spurs have found some rhythm in midfield. It's more a dubstep frenetic rhythm than a Barça-style chilled house style one. But it results in Bale having two shots that don't bother anyone other than that bloke in row 33 of the Kop. But it's better endeavour from Spurs.

31 min: "Your reply to Michael Bertin implies that, although you yourself don't have the power, there is someone at Guardian Towers who could make someone disappear. Are you guys part of News Corp now?" asks Captain Corduroy. Not that I'm aware of Captain. But, the way they operate, you never know. There may be tanks lined up outside Guardian Towers right now.


27 min: The outside of Coutinho's right boot is oozing silky touches and passes at the moment. He almost sends Suárez clear again with a lovely ball down the inside-left channel, but Suárez is flagged offside.

26 min: Suárez has gone into overdrive – he often does that, mind – and Liverpool are all over Spurs now. Gerrard finds the Uruguayan, who sneaks in behind Assou-Ekotto, and he zips in a cross between defence and goalkeeper that Lloris paws away with Coutinho advancing.


24 min: So Suárez throws the first Ha Dou Ken of the match. Bale must be readying his energy levels.

Goal! Liverpool 1-0 Spurs (Suárez 21)

This is a sublime finish from the Uruguayan – his 50th goal for Liverpool - after some beautiful build-up play from Coutinho. The Brazilian, who moments earlier narrowly drove over from 20 yards, drags the ball back under close attention on the left touchline, he then flicks the ball to Enrique, who plays a return pass with him and gets on his bike. Coutinho then plays a perfectly weighted pass to Enrique in the box behind his marker. And he in turn slides Suárez in who evades the offside trap and finishes brilliantly with the outside of his right foot 10 yards from goal on the left of the box before Lloris can so much as throw a hand after it. Lovely goal.


15 min: "It's easy to laugh at Brendan Rodgers," writes Gary Naylor. "But ... actually, after yesterday, I'll leave it there." Spurs have started to hold on to the ball much more comfortably now. Liverpool's midfield has dropped a little deeper, perhaps due to the concern that Bale and Dembele are causing by trying to find space between defence and midfield. The home fans suddenly sound a little nervous. A few exasperated shouts greet an errant ball forwards from Enrique, as he tries to find Sturridge but misses him by miles.

12 min: And Bale causes Jones to go the wrong way with his usual swerving, dipping, powerful effort, but the Liverpool keeper manages to divert it wide very uncomfortably. He puffs his cheeks out with relief as the ball goes out for a corner. Bale overhits that though.

10 min: Liverpool have had the better of the first 10 minutes but Spurs have just started to turn the tide of Liverpool attacks. A bit of scrappy stuff in midfield by Parker and Livermore results in Dembele picking up possession. He glides forwards and throws in a couple of stepovers to bamboozle Agger, who brings him down for a free-kick in Bale territory, 30 yards from goal …

9 min:"I know you're not responsible for what appears in the right gutter on the website, but is there some way you can make Russel Brand go away? And I don't mean just that picture on the website, I mean him from planet earth," pleads Michael Bertin, assuming I have much more power than I do at Guardian Towers. "Urgh, I'll have to find another way to follow the match. I can't look at that for two hours." Put some masking tape over it Michael. An old-school solution.


7 min: Liverpool continue to press. Lucas wins back possession in the Spurs half and finds Coutinho. He turns and plays a neat ball with the outside of his right boot behind the Spurs defence to Sturridge, who is clear of Dawson. He has just to nick it past Lloris and slot home from 15 yards, but his first touch is a heavy mess and he ends up somewhere near the corner flag and the chance goes begging.


5 min: Downing robs the ball off Assou-Ekotto on the halfway line as the full-back looked ahead of him and saw nobody free and dallied on the ball. The Liverpool winger plays an early ball into the inside-right channel for Sturridge, who sprints to the edge of the box and slices a shot high and wide disappointingly. He was under a bit of pressure from Vertonghan though.


3 min: Liverpool have had pretty much most of the possession thus far. "Can we add another point to the bingo? Liverpool's back four knocking the ball around in pretty tiki-taka triangles, before passing it directly to Bale 20 yards from goal?" adds Matthew Kemp. Yup, that's on there now.

2 min: Suárez and Sturridge show the signs of what Spurs can expect with some neat interplay that Kyle Walker does well to snuff out. Suárez found space between Parker and Vertonghen very cleverly there. He'll be hard to pick up in a deeper role today.

Peep! Michael Oliver blows his whistle very hard indeed and we are off.


There'll be a lot of pressure on Brad Jones today. Not just to avoid making a howler, as he did against Oldham. But to make sure his distribution is up to scratch. Reina is particularly good at getting play moving from the back. Jones not so.

You'll Never Walk Alone quivers around Anfield as the teams line up for pre-match handshake niceties. It's sung heartily too.


Oh, here's an email: "Anyone want to play Liverpool-Spurs Bingo?" asks Wilson Beuys.

"Bingo point (1) Even though Charlie Adam is no longer sullying your team, given the way recent games between Spurs and Liverpool have gone, my money's on any two of Carragher, Agger and Gerrard putting in an aggressive reducer early doors on Bale and standing over him, shouting angrily about his having dived and setting the tone for the match.

Bingo (2) Bale to get increasingly caught up in his own publicity (he showed signs of it against Inter) and get increasingly greedy with the ball, but to do nothing special.

(3) Given (1), Bale then to get booked for diving.

Bingo (4) Livermore is not a Premiership standard player. It baffles me how he gets in the Spurs side at all. So: Livemore not to be mentioned in commentary more than 12 times in the match.

Bingo (5) Parker to get kicked in the back by someone at some point, just because he's Parker.

Bingo (6) Parker to concede five free-kicks in dangerous positions; Suarez to score from at least one of them.

(7) Walker to get caught 60 yards out of position upfield at least four times.

(8) Dawson is too slow, has slow reaction times (his heroic last-ditch lunges are usually the result of being left behind, out of position or slow to react in the first place) and has the turning circle of a stretch limo. Sturridge, Suarez and Coutinho will have a field day. Therefore Dawson to condede a penalty.

Should none of these come to pass, I accept no responsibility for the failure of the game."

It will be all your fault when this ends 0-0 with no notable incident. All your fault, Wilson.

Right. Well we're not far away from kick-off now. I've been informed by some among the 45,000 at Anfield that it's a real hands-in-your-pockets Baltic Merseyside day. So expect chants but not much in the way of hand-clapping.


A reader, Peter Crosby, has been busy making a film about the Cosmos Copa – an annual tournament of 36 'national teams' comprised of the communities that make up New York City. You can watch the trailer here …

"Brendan just called Geoff Shreeves 'Geoffrey'," points out Gavin Cooney. That's so very Brendan.

Carragher makes his 500th club appearance for Liverpool today. The last time he played in a milestone game – his 150th European game (against Zenit) – we all know what happened. At least Hulk's not playing. It's just Bale.

Reina is out with a calf injury, apparently. Perhaps sustained while reaching for the Ready Brek this morning. Or maybe he is still having flashbacks to that free-kick at White Hart Lane and is sat rocking in the corner of his living room looking at a sent text that says 'Calf injury boss, sorry'.


So, no Reina for Liverpool. I can only presume that he has picked up an injury today as all the indications are that he was going to start. Perhaps it was a Michael Stensgaard aggressive ironing-board style injury or something. The only other reason would be if something had happened of a personal nature. In which case, let's hope all is well in the Reina household.

The lineups themselves suggest this could be a very open game. Rodgers' XI is particularly bold, with Sturridge, Suárez, Downing and Coutinho all starting. I still expect it to be a 4-2-3-1 with Suárez part of the trio behind Sturridge.

As for Spurs, Livermore's presence instead of Holtby suggests they are going to be a little less gung-ho. Lennon's pace will be missed, as he can offer drag defenders away from Bale and give the Welshman a little more room to operate. Expect a few long range efforts from Dembele to test Brad Jones's palms early on too.


Liverpool: Jones, Johnson, Enrique, Agger, Carragher, Lucas, Gerrard, Downing, Coutinho, Sturridge, Suarez.

Subs: Gulacsi, Wisdom, Skrtel, Henderson, Allen, Shelvey, Sterling.

Spurs: Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto, Parker, Livermore, Sigurdsson, Dembele, Bale, Defoe.

Subs: Friedel, Naughton, Caulker, Gallas, Huddlestone, Carroll, Holtby.


Ha Dou Ken! Well, this could be tasty. Spurs can move two points behind second-placed Manchester City if they win at Anfield. While Liverpool can leapfrog West Brom and Everton and move into sixth and strengthen their claim for European football if they win. That's a reasonably big if, mind. Their record against Spurs over recent years is nothing short of abysmal. The last time they beat them was in January 2010. It was so long ago that Rafa Benítez was still Liverpool's manager. Liverpool were still talked about as a Big Four club. And Gareth Bale was still considered a lightweight injury-prone problem. Yes, that Gareth Bale. The one who is currently shooting fire out of his hands and turning water into wine week in week out.

In fact, that match may have been somewhat of a turning point in Bale's career. Having struggled throughout at one point in the second-half he was outpaced and completely dominated physically by Jamie Carragher in the right corner in front of the Kop. That's probably the last time he let such a thing happen to him. In much the same way that Andy Murray added physical attributes to a rare and potent talent, Bale did something similar from that moment on. And he hasn't really looked back since.

My recollection of that match led me to search for a video clip of that moment to highlight the difference in Bale's physique and body language since. But instead, I stumbled upon the weirdest preview video I've ever seen. Imagine Radiohead's Fitter Happier or the intro to an epic Andrei Tarkovsky sci-fi film with Rafa Benítez's garbled quotes being read out and references to a Ryan Babel outburst instead. In fact, it's much more interesting than the Bale-Carragher clip. Enjoy.

As for how I expect today's match to pan out. Liverpool cannot afford even so much of a hint of a mistake at the back. Spurs are the most ruthless team in the league at capitalising on sloppy passes and slack marking. André Villas-Boas likes to squeeze the game into the middle third of the pitch, knowing full well that if Parker and Dembele intercept a loose ball they can spring an attack quicker than their opponents can react. They've done it time and again throughout the season.

That said, Liverpool's passing has been more accurate in the past few matches than at any other time of the season. Lucas finally looks like he is fully fit and his economical use of possession and clever positional sense has given Liverpool a more solid feel in midfield. Then there's that Suárez fella. He's not bad. And with Daniel Sturridge perhaps starting just in front of him, expect Jan Vertonghen and Michael Dawson to be given a torrid old time by two of the Premier League's most mobile forwards.

My prediction: Liverpool 2-2 Spurs


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