The Game of Errors – Spurs 4-1 Liverpool

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I could scarcely believe my eyes, indeed, I was predisposed to turn off the television and hide. Yet even then, I couldn’t bear to even cover my eyes, and instead watched in shock as Liverpool fell apart inside 20 minutes.

Twenty minutes later though, and Liverpool were a few mere minutes away from somehow getting through to half-time a single goal down, despite Spurs’ early dominance, then came the killer blow; the goal that ended the match before the second-half had even started.

It’s utterly unbelievable and unacceptable: every week I look at the Liverpool goals, and it’s the same old story each time – an individual error costing Liverpool the points. I was sure it could not go on, but despite the odds suggesting otherwise, it still happens.

I really do feel for Klopp – how can you accommodate for the errors that characterise all four of Spurs’ goals? There is no way Lovren is instructed to charge for a ball, on the half-way line, of which the overall offensive impact to Liverpool is marginal, and the threat to Liverpool defensively is total.

Here we are again though, and whilst the stats below are not totally reflective of the scoreline, I do feel there is a point at which I can stop giving players the benefit of the doubt, nonetheless, we’ll be looking at the five goals from the game, and just how Liverpool managed to lose 4-1, to a team that they’ve had so much success against in recent years.


THFC: 2.63 (tegen), 3.0 (Caley)
LFC: 0.7 (tegen), 0.6 (Caley)

Shots (on target)
THFC: 14 (6)
LFC: 12 (7)

THFC: 36.2
LFC: 63.8

THFC: 560
LFC: 830

Passes (success rate)
THFC: 359 (87pc)
LFC: 629 (629)

Key passes
LFC: 8

The passing and positional map tell a story in themselves, with Liverpool’s midfield presence completely different to that against Maribor. Whilst only Salah pushed Spurs’ defensive line, which sat deep with a base of 5, without possession, and was protected by three midfielders in front of that.

The Goals

1-0, Spurs, Kane,

To understand the first goal, we need to first look at the build-up: Lovren is deeper, as you would expect him to be, as Spurs have a throw-in, and a player cannot be offside from a throw.

Lovren then moves up, and leaves Kane – with Kane now in an offside position.

Initially, I was confused as to what Lovren was attempting to do in this goal situation – however, as we can see in the frame below, he makes a step forward – attempting to play Kane offside.

However, Gomez, on the far side does not step up, and it’s not communicated effectively by either of the two senior centre-backs to him.

Whilst Lovren’s decision to play Kane offside is not an error in itself, the actual error is the product of inaction, as Lovren watches the ball go over his head, but does not act.

Lovren expects the linesman to raise his flag, but even if Kane was offside, Lovren should be attempting to header clear in case the official does not call it. And if Kane was offside, and the linesman realised, Liverpool would have been awarded a free-kick, instead of conceding possession, if Lovren cleared with a header,

Mignolet recieved considerable criticism for his performance, but in fairness, it appears he tried to make the right decision – coming out to attempt to win the ball.

In situations such as these, you should not expect the goalkeeper to succeed in the majority of instances, and it was a fantastic touch by Kane on his right foot, to lift it over Mignolet’s challenge which contributed to the goal – and that piece of ingenuity should be applauded. Naturally we would hope Mignolet claims the ball cleanly, but there is not much he can do when Lovren misses a routine header – expecting Joe Gomez to step up.

2-0, Spurs, Son

Four touches. It took four touches from the ball being in Hugo Lloris’ hands, to being in the back of the Liverpool net, in a swift counter-attack by Spurs. But this goal boils down to one key moment:

Lovren rushes out, and attempts to challenge for a ball several yards inside the Spurs half, and completely misjudges Lloris’ throw.

It’s an inexcusable error, as Kane races through, and goes onto pass into Son, who scores the goal.

With the ball in the air though, Lovren should assess the value of winning the ball in such a situation – he clearly feels he could affect Liverpool’s play, and sustain pressure, but with Spurs playing two strikers, it plays into their hands perfectly, as Kane goes onto attract the remaining centre-back Matip – creating space for Son, who escapes Milner, and finishes very well.

So far, we’re a mere 12 minutes into the game, and without two errors, it would likely still be 0-0. Nonetheless, Liverpool were soon to benefit from a bit of luck, as Salah scored, and Liverpool were suddenly back into a game that they seemed knocked out of.

2-1, Liverpool, Salah

Liverpool target and press Kane, turning over the ball – but key to this is the quick release by Henderson – which takes full advantage of Salah’s run, and does not allow Spurs’ back five to settle into shape, or Spurs’ midfield to assemble in front of it.

The gap between Vertonghen and Sánchez is unnecessarily large, and Henderson takes advantage of it, as Salah targets that gap.

Henderson and Salah are perhaps a tad fortunate though, as the ball deflects off Alli’s head, and offsets Lloris, who instead backtracks, as it falls nicely for Salah.

Salah’s finish bobbles its way onto the far-post and in, and suddenly Liverpool are back in the game. Many a time I’ve seen games in which one team has been dominant in the first-half, but did not take full advantage, only to lose or draw the game after the opposition responded in the second-half, but paramount to these performances is going into the half-time break within touching distance of the opposition – Liverpool let this opportunity get away from them with some careless and brainless work.

3-1, Spurs, Alli

Liverpool’s lifeline was thrown away, with a needless foul given away by Emre Can:

Liverpool’s setup from the subsequent free kick seemed fine initially, but that soon dissipated.

Matip wins the header, but blindly heads back into the danger zone, on the edge of the box. Additionally, Liverpool’s players have all dropped to a non-existent threat, with no players around them – with the goalscorer, Alli, actually outside the box.

Yet Mignolet also has a role in this too – he could well come and claim the ball, and relieve pressure from the defence.

The fault here though lies both with Matip, and the defenders that neglected All and Son. With seven LFC outfield players, and three Spurs players in the frame, conceding is simply unacceptable and inexcusable.

The final nail in the coffin, and Liverpool hammered it in themselves.

4-1, Spurs, Kane

Liverpool’s setup seems acceptable here too, if not negligent of the threat on the edge of the box though.

Mignolet has to be held culpable for this goal though, although Gomez does not help, by not getting out of the way – nonetheless it’s a communication error between the keeper and centre-backs, and Mignolet does not take the catch cleanly. Even here though, Liverpool are fortunate, as Firmino stops the subsequent shot, resulting from the fumble.

Even with this stroke of luck, the defence and goalkeeper have failed to recover and react to the ‘third’ ball, with it falling to Kane, on the edge of the six-yard box, who goes relatively unchallenged.

Four goals. Four utterly baffling errors.

‘This game wasn’t really down to tactics as it was to errors in key moments.’ – Paul Dalgish

How then do Liverpool stop games like this happening again? At this point it seems clear that Mignolet and Lovren struggle when exposed or challenged (which, in fairness, only the very best defenders and goalkeepers do not), and instead of persisting with this approach, maybe it’s time for Liverpool to employ a second defensive midfielder, or a third centre-back, or to play defensively tighter and further back to minimise the propensity of both Lovren and Mignolet to get exposed.

Beyond that there really is not much to take from this game. I hope I can shed some light on some better performances and Liverpool goals in the matches to come.

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  1. I disagree with the premise that these are individual errors only. This is an easy excuse to prevent incriminating Klopp. A lot of Kloppites use such ingenuous excuses to deflect blame.

    The second goal is predominantly an individual error but if both full backs are not so high, when there is no need to be, (as the goalkeeper has the ball in his hands) then this goal may have been prevented. Moreno may well have covered Lovren’s error & Gomez may have put off Son.

    It’s a common narrative that the 3rd goal was also down to individual errors. Gary Neville pointed out that when a free kick is from deep, with only Kane in the box & the centre backs haven’t come up, what is the need to set up like we’re defending a set piece from a wide position closer to goal?

    If it’s assumed that Klopp’s working on the defence, but the same basic mistakes keep occurring, then it’s obvious the personnel are not good enough, which leads to the question as to why Klopp’s not made this his primary issue to resolve?

    If the argument is that Matip, Klavan & Karius were the solutions, then the fact that only 1 of the 3 plays regularly, means that again Klopp’s to blame for failing to recruit correctly.

    It was Klopp who suggested in the summer that only Plan A would suffice. In other words, Van Dijk or nobody. The result is that after Lucas’s departure Liverpool have less centre back options in a Champions’ League season than they had when they weren’t in Europe in 2016/17.

    Ultimately, continuous shambolic defending, both individually &, in particular, collectively is down to Klopp as the man in charge.

    He’s had just over 2 years now to resolve it & hasn’t. Liverpool have, this season to date, conceded more goals away from home than Palace, who are bottom, & they sit 9th in the table, yet the majority of dimwit Liverpool fans continue to back him or remain silent.

    I do think that you’re cleverly trying to defend Klopp by blaming individual errors. I noticed you do the same with xG, arguing that xG demonstrates the tide will turn. You can carry on fooling yourself and others, but I am certainly not fooled.

  2. Muhammad, you are spot on. I am not surprised by both the City and Spurs thrashing. From the moment the transfer window closes and when Klopp says there are no better defenders out there other than VvD, i knew this was coming.
    You are right about the Klopp lovers, they are much like the Rodger lovers who keep finding ingenious ways to absolved their man, even when every single fact point to Klopp’s failure.

    1) Klopp had 4 windows to address our defensive and goalkeeping issues. Not only he does not do so, he actually sold our best defender.
    2) We now cant defend as well as can score better than last season. Does Klopp lovers have a different definition of progress?
    3) Henderson, Gini, Can. What do they have in common? All serial under performers and Henderson is the captain to boot. Why Klopp have to play them week in week out? Can wants to go to Juve? Gosh i would drive him there myself. This season our midfield is out of sorts to, another sign of progress?

    Into his 3rd season, we are not asking him to win the league for us but not fixing such glaring issues shows the man does not know how to do it. And over the last 2 years, Klopp also proves he is a one trick pony (no plan b remember) so every team in the league knows exactly what to do with us.
    Klopp often likes to potray he is a principle man. This is not true, he is a fraud just like Rodgers. A principle man would acknowledged he is out of his depth and resigns so someone like Rafa could come in and get the job done. Instead Klopp is hanging on, drawing a fat pay cheque while watching our team slides. Remember Dortmund is his last season, well it came early with us.
    As for FSG, they must be ashamed of themselves that for a second in a row, they had got conned. Instead of handing Rafa the job (based on his success with us) and backs him properly, they gives it to a Oral B spokesman and still refuses to act after such disaster. #kloppout

  3. Chan – People like the author of the piece above use the language of intellectualism, but when you pry a bit deeper, their arguments are shallow.

    This is the same writer that has suggested that being knocked out of the CL & League Cup will enable a sustained title challenge from January onwards.

    First, he forgot that we would most likely be in the Europa League & second he should now realise we are closer to the bottom of the league than the top, or to put it simply, 12 points behind City.

    In his delusion of grandeur, he probably still thinks a title challenge is possible? Stupidity is hard to rectify.

    These Kloppites will use any excuse, explicit or implied, to defend sustained mediocrity. They will cry or post stats showing how much we miss Mane (which is undoubtedly true) but they forget every team suffers injuries. For example, Spurs had Dembele & Wanyama missing and Rose was not considered ready enough to start the match.

    People like Hamzah seem to be living in the myth of ethics where they consider sacking a manager to be diametrically opposed to the concept of the “Liverpool Way” (whatever that’s supposed to mean).

    People like him are apologists for failure and are the worst type of fans the club could have.

  4. Muhammad, right again, with fans like this, why would we be surprised we have not won the league for more than 2 decades and counting? We can’t say we can’t sack anyone as he might turn up to be a “Ferguson “. Well, look how many titles supposedly trigger happy Chelsea, Utd had won? Would Pep still have a job if his team performed like ours?
    However we should not let FSG off the hook. They are a model of inaction and continously get conned by ppl like Klopp and Edwards. The one true man who would get us somewhere, Rafa is continously overlooked.
    Fans have to ask, why is Klopp here in the first place? If the team is in shambles even after 4 windows he had to fix it, what makes them think he is capable of doing any better next?

  5. What the hell is our defensive midfielder doing? Henderson can neither defend nor attack save for two moments a season. He’s a proven average player . Get rid? Before launching a staunch defence ask yourself if 1. You’d buy him in his current last 24 months, 2. Which top team he’d be a first team player in?

  6. John – Henderson is just another example of Klopp’s mismanagement of our club, he is the captain but consistently underperforms.
    He has no incentive to do well because he knows under Klopp just like Can he would be selected no matter what.
    Henderson, cant inspire an attack, can’t protect the back 4, passes side ways, really why is he in the first team?
    How many top teams would want such a player in their team?
    Only Klopp would.


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