Tottenham Hotspur (Assou-Ekotto 44′, Bassong 59′) 2-1 Liverpool (Gerrard pen. 56′)
Stadium: White Hart Lane, England
Competition: English Premier League
Date: 16 August 2009
Kickoff: 16:00 BST, 15:00 GMT, 11:00 EST
Liverpool’s 2009-2010 season got off to a terrible start as they drop a 2-1 contest to Tottenham Hotspur! Soccerlens brought you the action live! Click below for the liveblog and feel free to leave comments.
If there were ever a season for Liverpool to break their title drought, this would have seemed to be the one. They were edged out for last season’s title and posted a club-record for points in the Premier League. With Manchester United losing one Cristiano Ronaldo, as well as Chelsea’s age and inability to land a superstar like David Villa or Franck Ribery, Liverpool were looking like the clear favorites to win their first League Title since 1990.
However, Liverpool have been hit with some defections of their own. The biggest one was Xabi Alonso, the influential midfielder who turned in a career year before heading off to join the Galacticos at Real Madrid. The loss of Alonso will be huge for a number of reasons, however the biggest one might be that his replacement, the £16.9 million man from Roma, Alberto Aquilani, won’t be available for a couple of months due to injury. That means that Lucas Leiva will get an extended look in the center of midfield next to the unsettled Javier Mascherano. To say that Lucas has yet to play up to his potential is a lot like saying that Steven Gerrard has an important role on this team. How Lucas responds could go a long way towards determining if Liverpool finally break that title hoodoo, especially since Fernando Torres and Gerrard have missed a significant amount of time in the last couple of years.
As for Tottenham, they have lofty aims after finishing last season on a high note. After languishing near the bottom of the table for much of the first half, the Spurs ended up finishing 8th. Harry Redknapp got the team playing excellent defense and they made a slow, but steady improvement. From February until the end of the season, they only lost to Blackburn, Manchester United, and Liverpool and got a huge win over Chelsea that, more or less, ended the Blues’ slim chances at the title. Wilson Palacios got a lot of credit for the improvement, as did Robbie Keane, who returned to the team after a nightmarish stint at Liverpool.
As such, Tottenham didn’t do much in the offseason, acquiring former Liverpool striker Peter Crouch from Pompey and defender Sebastian Bassong from Newcastle, and saying goodbye to Darren Bent while dangling Roman Pavlyuchenko and David Bentley to anyone who will have them. Harry Redknapp will hope that the progress his team showed at the end of last season will carry over into this season and that Tottenham will be able to realistically challenge for a Top Four spot.
Who will get off to a good start? Will Liverpool take the first step towards securing the elusive Premier League trophy? Or will Tottenham announce their intentions of crashing the party? Tune in and find out!
Tottenham: Gomes, Corluka, King, Bassong, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Palacios, Huddlestone, Modric, Keane (c), Defoe.
Subs: Cudicini, Hutton, Bentley, Pavlyuchenko, Crouch, Naughton, O’Hara.
No Pompey reunion as Crouch will start on the bench in this one. King will get the start, which means we can probably rule him out of next week’s clash. Bentley is out of jail and on the bench for this one, along with Pavlyuchenko, the other big-ticket acquisition from last summer that looks to be on the move this year.
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Insua, Kuyt, Mascherano, Lucas, Babel, Gerrard (c), Torres.
Subs: Cavalieri, Voronin, Benayoun, Spearing, Kelly, Dossena, Ayala.
Referee: Phil Dowd
The big news is that Gerrard has been deemed fit to play after suffering a groin injury and will start in his usual spot behind Torres. Glen Johnson will make his first Premiership start for Liverpool and Babel will make his first Premiership start in what seems like forever. And, of course, the man on the spot, Lucas, will partner Mascherano in the center of midfield as Liverpool will try and forget about Xabi Alonso. I’d be shocked if Voronin came on, but then again, I’ve been wrong before.
90′ + 4 There’s the whistle and we’re done! Liverpool’s season gets off to a poor start as they lose at White Hart Lane for the second year in a row! Thanks to everyone who followed along! See you next time!
90′ + 2 Tottenham make the change and here comes Pavlyuchenko. Meanwhile, Huddlestone and Lucas get into a shoving match. No cards, though, as it was really more posturing than anything else.
90′ Three minutes will be added on. Pavlyuchenko will come on for Defoe as Spurs look to waste some time.
89′ Liverpool assistant manager, Sammy Lee, has been sent into the stands. Presumably, he said something to Dowd that the ref didn’t appreciate.
87′ Needless to say, Rafa is not happy about that non-call. Torres gets it in the box and tries to cross it. It hits Assou-Ekotto and Liverpool want a handball. The linesman says no, and we’ll play on. On the replay, it did hit the arm, but only after Assou-Ekotto pulled it up and pressed it against his chest.
86′ Voronin almost makes good as he gets a great through-ball from Benayoun and he’s alone with the keeper. Assou-Ekotto shoves him down blatantly, but no penalty! That’s going to be a talking point after the match.
85′ Long pass down the left for Defoe, and he nearly gets past Ayala, which would give him a clear path towards the box. Ayala grabs him, though, and is called for a foul.
83′ Long pass into the box for Torres, but it eludes him slightly and Gomes is able to hold on. King looks like he may have gotten a touch on it, in which case it would be an illegal backpass, but it’s not called by the refs. Meanwhile, Modric will come off for O’Hara as Spurs will try and preserve this lead.
82′ Long punt from Reina and he nearly connects with Torres. They did that a lot last season, too. Torres can’t quite get to it, and Gomes corrals it.
81′ Well, time to see what both of these teams are made of. Can Liverpool fight back and salvage something from this match? Can Tottenham hold on and keep Liverpool off the scoresheet?
79′ Kuyt comes off for Voronin. I would have withdrawn Lucas, but that’s just me. Meanwhile, Corluka and Defoe clear the corner from immediate danger.
78′ Hell has frozen over and Voronin looks like he’s coming on. They must be desperate. Benayoun gets some space along the edge of the box and he fires a shot that takes a deflection off King for a corner.
77′ Assou-Ekotto throw it so high and far that not even Crouch can get to it. He’s only 6’7”, you know. Not seven-feet tall.
76′ Benayoun looks to bring it down with his arm near the center-circle and the refs take their time before calling the infraction. That draws some boos from the Liverpool fans in attendance.
75′ Skrtel will finally come off and the youngster, Ayala, will make his EPL debut.
74′ Assou-Ekotto tries to play the jump-ball into the box for Crouch, and he gets his head on it (and really, he has no excuse not to win that one). It lacks pace, though, and Reina takes it easily.
73′ Corluka gets caught out of position and Gerrard blows by him down the left. He goes for a shot but it lacks power and Gomes easily smothers it.
72′ Johnson sends in a great cross into the center of the box and Torres gets his head on it but he can’t direct it on target. King and Corluka had him well played there.
71′ Miscalculation by King as he jumps in front of a cross but it eludes him and falls to Torres in the box. King recovers, though, and is able to get it away before Torres can do anything with it.
69′ Great run from Lennon into the box and he cuts across and shakes Carragher off his tail. He sends a cross into the center of the box, but Modric can’t get to it in time. He gets hit with a great tackle from Mascherano and Reina saves the corner but gives up the throw.
68′ Babel will come off for Benayoun, and Babel’s lackluster effort will not endear him to his manager. Meanwhile, Keane will be replaced by the former Liverpool man Crouch. Gerrard’s free kick into the box is poor as Huddlestone easily clears it away.
67′ Crouch is also standing at the touchline and he’ll be coming on, probably for Keane. Meanwhile, Assou-Ekotto gives up a free kick in a dangerous area deep down the right flank. He gets booked and this ref is certainly giving out these cards like they’re going out of style.
66′ Keane sends a hard shot from long-range that stings Reina’s palms but ends up giving the keeper very little problem.
63′ Benayoun gets his instructions and he’ll be coming on soon. Liverpool could use some of his magic right now.
62′ Gerrard sends in his corner but Huddlestone heads it away.
61′ Well, things have certainly picked up, haven’t they? Liverpool win a free kick from about 30 yards out on the left flank. Gerrard curls it towards goal, but Gomes knocks it out for a corner.
59′ GOAL! Long pass to Defoe and Carragher elbows him in the face and prevents him from getting on the end of it. That’ll be a booking for Carragher and Spurs will have a free kick from a good 40 yards out or so. Modric sends it towards the far post from the right wing and Bassong heads it strongly past Reina at the near post! Gerrard had jumped for it but it ended up going over his head and right into Bassong’s path! What a great debut for the ex-Newcastle man!
58′ Defoe gets the long pass into the Liverpool box and he turns and fires it. Carragher slides in and makes a great tackle and it’s a corner. Nothing doing on the corner as Liverpool clear it easily.
57′ Liverpool attack again as Babel gets it deep down the left. Corluka stays with him and wins it with a strong tackle.
56′ GOAL! Gomes gets booked for the challenge and Gerrard will step up to take it. He sends it down the middle and it easily beats Gomes, who dove to his right. Well, Gomes has no one to blame but himself.
55′ Johnson makes a strong run into the box and splits the defense. Gomes comes out and is called for the foul and Liverpool have a penalty! Well, that will certainly change the complexion of the game.
54′ Nothing doing on the corner as Defoe gets called for a push inside the box.
53′ Insua tries to clear it, but it’s right into Modric’s path. He takes a strong touch, though, and loses it. He had acres of space to run to and really could have made things interesting there. Keane then sends it long to Defoe who holds it up well. He lays it off to Palacios, who makes the run down the center. He fires a great shot that forces an even better save from Reina.
51′ Skrtel gets booked as he fouls Keane down the left wing. Benitez has Ayala warming up, so Skrtel’s day could be finished soon. Maybe they should have kept Hyypia after all.
50′ According to the commentators, Skrtel and Carragher have switched places because Skrtel can only turn his head to one side. Why not substitute him, then?
49′ Resolute defending from Spurs as Gerrard gets it inside the box. Corluka pokes it away and Liverpool come back with another chance, this time through Kuyt. Spurs clear it away but Kuyt gets it back. He sets up Gerrard from long-range, but his shot is just wide of the post. It looks like Gomes may have gotten a finger on it, but the refs don’t give the corner.
48′ Another charge from Spurs and Modric gets fouled by Mascherano and the Argentine gets a talking too from the official. He better be careful, as he’s already on a yellow.
47′ Nothing doing on the corner and Lennon gets it and makes a brilliant run down the right. He waltzes into the box, but he loses it as Lucas is back to make the excellent tackle.
46′ Liverpool kick off and we’re underway. Liverpool win an early corner as Assou-Ekotto deflects Kuyt’s cross out.
46′ Well, Liverpool were a second-half squad all last season. Will it be the same today?
46′ They replay the Assou-Ekotto goal and I really didn’t do it much justice here. That was a brilliant shot, especially from a guy with zero career goals.
Spurs outplayed Liverpool and deserve to be up by more than 1 goal. If it weren’t for Pepe Reina’s brilliant goalkeeping, then this one could already be out of reach for Liverpool. Lucas has yet to get into a groove with Stevie G and Torres and the Spurs defense has done a great job shutting them down. This is where both managers earn their money, and Rafa Benitez will have to figure out how to get his team going and Harry Redknapp will try and stop them from getting to gear.
45′ + 4 There’s the whistle and we’re at halftime! See you in the second half!
45′ + 1 There will be four minutes added on due to all the injuries.
44′ GOAL! Huddlestone’s free kick hits the wall, but it bounces out to Assou-Ekotto, who is outside the right edge of the box. He fires it to the far post and it tucks in at the top corner! What a rocket of a strike and Spurs will take a deserved lead!
43′ Palacios gets fouled by Skrtel on the edge of the penalty box, and Spurs keep getting opportunities.
42′ Robbie Keane with another chance as Palacios heads it towards him on the left edge of the box. Keane tries to volley it on target, but it’s over the bar. This certainly isn’t the effort Keane wanted, especially against his old team.
41′ Liverpool on the break and Babel keeps it rather than try and set up Gerrard or Torres. He fires a shot that’s easily handled by Gomes
40′ Palacios makes a good run down the right, but his cross into the center of goal for Keane is knocked away by Johnson.
39′ Gerrard’s corner is knocked out by Huddlestone for a throw. Johnson tries to feed Gerrard in the box, but King is there to kick it away.
38′ Long pass to Torres, and the Spaniard is flagged for being offside. King gives him a little push to the ground, and Torres takes exception to that. Nothing comes of it, though, and Liverpool come back and win a corner.
37′ Poor throw-in from Liverpool and Modric casually jumps in front of it and nearly makes something out of nothing. He loses it, though, and that would have been an embarrassing moment for Liverpool if Spurs had scored there.
35′ On the corner, Defoe gets a free header, but it’s off target.
34′ Keane with another great chance as Modric makes a run down the center. He lays it off to Keane down the right and the Spurs skipper tries to chip it over Reina, but the keeper makes a great save to concede the corner. That’s two chances for Keane now.
33′ Spurs will have a free kick from about 35 yards, but it’s more centered than their previous one. Huddlestone takes it and it takes a slight deflection out for a corner.
31′ Mascherano barges into Lennon and the Argentine is booked for the foul. Mascherano is down, though, and he spends a lot of time on the ground. Ultimately, he’s up and he declines the stretcher. What a gamer!
30′ Great chance for Spurs as Keane brings it down and sends it to Lennon. He fires a cross from the right flank to the far post for Modric, who then chips a nice cross towards an unmarked Keane in front of goal. Keane heads it towards the back of the net, but Reina makes a great save! Wow! That one had “goal” written all over it.
29′ Gerrard fires a speculative effort from long range and it’s well wide of the post.
28′ Kind of a dull game so far as neither team has come close to scoring.
27′ Defoe gets it inside the box, but Carragher makes a great tackle on him before he can square up to shoot. To be fair to Lucas, Defoe hasn’t really done much today, either.
25′ Lennon loses the ball and sticks out his boot as he tries to take it away from Skrtel. He gets none of the ball and plenty of Skrtel and Lennon gets booked for a stupid foul. Skrtel, meanwhile, seems to be complaining of double-vision and he’s on the sideline getting looked at. He probably has a concussion. I doubt it’s because Lennon is so fast that Skrtel is having trouble seeing him.
23′ Carragher sends a great long cross from the right flank to the left edge of the box to Torres. He splits the defenders, but he can’t control the header. Otherwise it probably would have been a goal for him.
21′ Tottenham get a free kick and Modric will take it from about 35 yards out or so. Terrible delivery from him, though, as they try to play it across to Assou Ekotto. That was an interesting choice. Anyway, Spurs get a throw and Lennon has the ball inside the right edge of the box. He tries a shot, but it’s wide of the post.
20′ Gerrard gets it and passes it to Lucas. He tries to feed it to Babel down the left, but Lucas’ pass is too strong and results in a turnover.
19′ Carragher has been bandaged around his head and it looks like he’s wearing a headband out there. Skrtel looks a little dazed, though, and he’s still seeing little birdies, that’s for sure.
18′ Skrtel is back on as Carragher is still off. The vice-captain looks to be getting stitches. Anyway, Reina smartly stalls to give Carragher as much time as possible. Spurs get it and Lennon tries to cross it from deep down the right. His effort is blocked, though, and Carragher is ready to come back.
17′ So, Liverpool may be playing without their center-backs for a few moments. Rafa is talking to Torres, so maybe El Nino will take command in the center of defense?
15′ Modric sends it in to Keane, who works on Skrtel deep down the left flank. Keane loses it as Skrtel makes an excellent play on defense. A few moments later, Carragher and Skrtel have a meeting of the minds and both men are down. Carragher probably should have backed off or called him off as Skrtel seemed to have the position, but it happened really quickly so it’s wasn’t really anyone’s fault.
14′ Some fancy footwork from Palacios and he seems to tie himself up as a result. He eventually loses it, but Tottenham end up winning a throw-in.
13′ Lucas finally gets a touch. He completed a short pass to Torres outside the box. Johnson then whips in a cross into the center of goal towards Torres, but King heads it away.
11′ Lucas Watch: I don’t think he’s touched it yet. Maybe he did during pre-game warmups, but he’s had no impact so far. It’s early, but it’s not an encouraging sign if you’re a Liverpool fan.
10′ Palacios sends in a dangerous cross that wins a corner. Modric swings it into the box, but Carragher clears it easily.
9′ Gerrard swings it out, but it eludes everyone. Eventually Liverpool play it into the box, but Gomes is there to collect it.
8′ Johnson sends it long down the right for Kuyt. Assou-Ekotto then gives up the corner and Liverpool will have a chance here.
7′ Long pass to Torres, but he backs off it as he was offside. Bassong then waits for it to trickle over the end-line and Torres has a conversation with the line-judge.
6′ Long pass towards the Tottenham box for Babel. Bassong misjudges it and Babel has it. Bassong recovers, though, and Babel can’t get the shot off. Liverpool did a lot of that at Old Trafford last season, to great success.
4′ Torres tries to work on Assou-Ekotto deep down the right flank, but the defender closes him down nicely. Torres has nowhere to go, and he loses it over the end-line for a goal-kick.
3′ Throw-in deep in Liverpool territory to Keane, and he wins a corner kick. Let’s see what they can do with this. Modric sends it in and it bounces out to the left edge of the box to Assou-Ekotto. He tries a shot from there, but it’s well over the crossbar.
2′ Huddlestone tries to play it down the right to Lennon, but Skrtel kicks it away.
1′ Tottenham kick off and we’re underway! Johnson gets his first (EPL) touch in a Liverpool shirt, and it’s a simple backpass to Reina.
0′ Well, pending the result of this game, if the season ended today, Arsenal would be the champs (so take that, Wenger critics!). Man City, Stoke, and West Ham would be in the Champions League. Wigan and Chelsea would be in the Europa League. Everton, Wolverhampton, and Burnley would be going down.
0′ A bit of a surprise to see Babel get the nod over Benayoun, but Benitez probably likes Benayoun as his impact sub. He scored a lot of big goals for them in the late stages of games last season, and Benitez, no doubt, had that in mind as he named his team today. That’s probably no small consolation to Benayoun, though.
0′ Keane gets the nod over Crouch today, and the Irish striker can put even more distance between the two if he scores against Liverpool like he did on the last week of last season. Keane also showed that he is a true class act as he refused to celebrate the goal, even though he was only at Anfield for a few months and Rafa treated him like crap. If it had been me, I would have celebrated so ostentatiously and outrageously that I would have made the “Robbie Fowler Snorting the End-Line Celebration” look like a casual fist pump.
0′ Owen finds the back of the net, but he’s flagged offside. Valencia then takes a shot from long range, but he’s well off the mark. Owen then gets a chance on a breakaway and he’s onside! He brings Hart off the line, and Hart makes a great kick save to deny Owen the goal! They don’t come any more giftwrapped than that. You can be sure that the critics will get on him for missing that one. Anyway, there’s the whistle and Manchester United have secured the win!
0′ 90’th minute and Birmingham are on the charge. Jay O’Shea (not to be confused with John) was absolutely owned by Evra a few moments ago down the right. This time, Jay O’Shea sends his cross in early and Foster easily grabs it. Three minutes to be added on, which probably doesn’t sit well with Sir Alex.
0′ 84th minute and Giggs does well to get a cross off from deep down the left wing. Rooney meets it with his head, but it’s just wide of the post. That was close.
0′ 78’th minute at Old Trafford and Benitez (not Rafa) has almost scored for Birmingham! He made a brilliant run and beat Brown into the box and unleashed a hard shot towards the far corner, but Foster makes a great save to deny him. That would have been ironic, wouldn’t it?
0′ Manchester United are up 1-0 against Birmingham, but it’s been a pretty tight game. They’re in the 75’th minute and Michael Owen has come on for Berbatov. Evans is off with an injury and United are starting to get depleted in the back.
0′ So much for getting through an entire live-blog without mentioning CR7.
0′ The biggest surprise from the weekend thus far? Has to be Everton giving up 6 to Arsenal. I didn’t see that one coming at all. Villa’s loss was somewhat predictable for me. I figured that they would struggle, especially on defense after losing both Laursen and Barry. I didn’t think they would look totally toothless on offense, though. Especially with their firepower. Then again, when you have Ashley Young trying to look like Cristiano Ronaldo for all the scouts in the audience, it’s not going to help your offense get into a groove.
0′ Hello everyone and welcome to another exciting season of the EPL! I’m Victor and I’ll be your liveblogger for today’s opening week match, which pits Tottenham Hotspur against Liverpool! I’m contractually obligated to inform you that if you wish to watch this match online, then you can go to the top of this page and click on the link for http://www.free-football.tv. If that doesn’t meet your requirements, then you can always consult this article for available streaming TV network options or this article for FREE P2P options.
Not a good start to the season for Liverpool as they were outplayed by a determined Tottenham squad. Sure, there were a couple of penalties that probably should have gone their way, but in the end, they were outhustled and outgunned by Harry Redknapp’s troops. Rafa Benitez will be concerned about his team’s effort and their lack of creativity on offense. Plus, he could have some serious depth issues if Skrtel ends up missing time. Taking a look at Liverpool’s bench for this game, and you could only point to Benayoun as a serious impact sub (although Voronin did have his chance late in the game).
As for Spurs, they have a lot to be happy about and are off to a much better start this year, as compared to last season. They defended well and showed heart after seemingly letting Liverpool back into the game after Gerrard’s penalty shot. They should have won by more, especially with Robbie Keane failing to convert on two excellent chances. Either way, they looked very strong and they could be poised to shake things up in the EPL if they keep playing like this.
Man of the Match:
For Tottenham, it was more of a team effort as their defenders did a great job and Palacios was excellent as a link-up man between the back four and the offense. Keane had his chances to put this one beyond doubt, and Modric showed the flashed of genius that made everyone drool after Euro 2008. As for Liverpool, Gerrard woke up after a lackluster first half and seemed to be the only one who was able to do anything on offense for his squad. Johnson had a good debut for Liverpool, while Carragher was his usual dependable self. In the end, King deserves the nod as he made many excellent plays to keep Liverpool at bay. We saw why he’s so important to this team, and iIf he can finally solve his injury issues, then he could be one of the best defenders in the EPL this year.