After a frustrating game marred by poor refereeing and VAR decisions, we take a closer look at what it all means for the Reds.
Well that was certainly something. In a game that honestly should not have been played with covid rates among players and the UK alike rising at an alarming rate, Liverpool, Spurs, and referee Paul Tierney/VAR leaned into the chaos. Liverpool were left short handed, especially in midfield, with a bevy of players out with covid and other illness, leaving Jürgen Klopp to field 19 year old Tyler Morton. Liverpool started fast, but Spurs generated plenty of problems for Liverpool through direct play on the counter. After conceding and weathering a strong stretch from Spurs, Liverpool came on strong to take a 2-1 lead before two moments of madness turned the game on its head, ending in a 2-2 draw. Both teams will feel aggrieved not to have taken all three points, and both were lucky not to have lost. In the end, with everything that transpired, a draw was probably fair. Let’s tuck into the mayhem, shall we?
Diogo Jota isn’t instrumental in the build up, but he just has a knack for popping up in dangerous spots to put the ball in the back of the net. Jota yet again managed to find a sliver of space in the box to win a header despite being surrounded by much taller players, placing the ball perfectly back to the near post for his goal. He was also very unlucky not to have been awarded a penalty after being bundled over in the box. The Portuguese forward now has seven goals in his last nine goals for Liverpool.
It’s been almost a month since Mané last recorded a goal or an assist for Liverpool, but he is doing so much of the dirty work to get the ball into good spots. He was sensational, especially in the first half, beating Emerson time and time again. Mané was the one who put the initial ball into the box that led to Liverpool’s first game, and also sent a wonderful ball across to the back post that Trent Alexander-Arnold almost scored from as well.
James Milner and Naby Keïta
Early in the game, the midfield was out of sync, playing several misplaced passes. As the game wore on, however, but Milner and Keïta became more and more influential on the proceedings, especially after they dropped into a double pivot in the second half. They both got involved in the attack, with each getting three shots off, with one on target. On the defensive end, they both were popping up everywhere to put out fires. Keïta led the team with eight tackles, while Milner was second with four tackles. They both also came up with two interceptions, and did a fairly good job of helping to cover the space behind Trent Alexander-Arnold as he pushed forward into the attack.
Alisson and Andy Robertson
Let’s start with the good, shall we? Both Alisson and Andrew Robertson were essential to Liverpool earning a point. Alisson made several massive saves, including a couple of 1v1 opportunities against Harry Kane and Son. He was also quick off of his line to come out of his box when defenders were beat on the counter, helping to limit the shooting opportunities.
Andy Robertson, for his part, had a goal and an assist from his left back spot. He combined well with Sadio Mané to terrorize Emerson for most of the game, and sent in a perfect cross to Diogo Jota for Liverpool’s opening goal. He scored a stooping header, taking advantage of the chaos in the box to get into a good spot to receive the ball from his full back compatriot.
While they both were essential in a positive aspect, of course that leads us to…
Alisson and Andy Robertson
…the moments of madness from both. Alisson came first, streaking out of his box to slide in and clear a ball ahead of Son in the second half. Alisson took his eyes off the ball for a moment, and then completely whiffed, leaving Son clean in on an open goal to tie the game.
Just a few minutes later, Andy Robertson hauled back and whacked Emerson, initially earning himself a yellow card from Paul Tierney. The referee was asked to take a second look at the challenge, and deemed the force used worthy of a straight red card. In a vacuum, I honestly don’t have any qualms about the decision to change the card from yellow to red. Andy Robertson has a history of shithousing, and he got caught this time. Of course, none of this occurs in a vacuum, which leads us to…
…some absolute shambolic VAR reviews/non-reviews. With Paul Tierney deciding to go full English referee and swallow his whistle, VAR became a deciding factor in several key points that changed the tenor of the match. Harry Kane went in late and high with his studs into the shin of Andy Robertson. Had Robertson’s foot had a little more weight on it, he leg would undoubtedly been broken rather than just getting cleaned out. Tierney gave a yellow to Kane, but VAR declined to have a second look at it, which made the process for Andy Robertson’s red card later in the game even more confusing and frustrating.
VAR also declined to have Tierney take a second look when he waved off Liverpool’s penalty appeals later in the first half when Emerson went through the back of Diogo Jota in the box, getting nothing of the ball. The replays made it clear that Emerson came in from behind, made plenty of contact, and never came close to the ball.
This is less an indictment of Mo having a poor game by his standards, and more that he failed to register a goal or an assist for the first time in 15 straight Premier League games. He will remain tied with Jamie Vardy as the only other player to do so rather than breaking the record.
From The Manager
Get him Jürgen
“I have no problems with any referees. Only you.”
Audio from Jurgen Klopp’s confrontation with referee Paul Tierney after the game pic.twitter.com/jkcx4slwRk
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) December 19, 2021
What Happens Next
Well, in theory Liverpool are supposed to play Leicester City in the EFL League Cup quarterfinals on Wednesday. However, with covid counts rising, there is a pretty good chance the game will be postponed. Liverpool are supposed to play twice more in the Premier League before the end of the calendar year, but everything seems up in the air as to whether games will happen at all over the next couple of weeks.