EFL CUP: LIVERPOOL REST FIRST 11 AS YOUNGSTERS GRAB QUARTERFINAL SLOT VS SPURS
A lot has been said about Liverpool’s attacking prowess.But until they learn to defend with greater authority, their unmistakable attacking flair will continue to be undermined. Nevertheless, there is a vibrancy and bounce about much of their football that currently makes them compelling to watch.
On Tuesday night it was the turn of the supporting cast but there was little change. Liverpool won again and once again it was despite themselves. There was no clean sheet and no gentle stroll towards the finishing line.
But Liverpool’s play with the ball was typical of what they have given us this season. impressive.
It would appear that even at the level beneath Jurgen Klopp’s established first XI, players have been imbued with the same buccaneering spirit, the same spirit of freedom and adventure.
At one stage early in the second half on Tuesday night, Anfield buzzed with appreciation as young Belgium forward Divock Origi terrorised Tottenham.
The noise at that time exceeded anything we heard last week as Liverpool and Manchester United met in a bloodless Premier League encounter. That is what good football can do, no matter how far this competition has slipped down the pecking order.
It seems Klopp’s teams will play only one way and on Tuesday night it proved just too good for Spurs.
Liverpool really should have won more comfortably. They moved the ball quicker, played with more imagination and cohesion and created the better chances. That they didn’t record a more comfortable victory can be attributed to a problem that was evident when they beat West Bromwich by the same score at Anfield on Saturday.
Liverpool are not clinical enough and can be reckless at the back. It almost undid Klopp’s team when West Brom came back at them and it happened again here.
Indeed, had 19-year-old Tottenham substitute Shayon Harrison not frozen before the lights of the away end with only a minute left, Spurs would have taken this game into extra-time and that, on the balance of play, would have been faintly ridiculous.
So, yes, Liverpool’s very obvious achilles heel may yet hurt them at some stage but, ultimately, it didn’t happen here, which allowed us to reflect on what was good about another attacking display of rich flavour.
The two important goals went to Daniel Sturridge, one in each half, and the consequences in terms of form and confidence for the England centre forward may be significant.
At times, it was possible to see the poise and the instinct returning and Klopp will hope this does not prove to be a false dawn.
When Sturridge finds his rhythm, he is some player. Overall, however, he was slightly outshone by the dazzling Origi.
The powerfully built striker was unplayable for a period in the second half, his runs down the right side proving too much for Tottenham left back Ben Davies. Origi was withdrawn not long after Sturridge’s second strike and it was difficult to see why.
At that stage Liverpool were in complete control and had been put there by Sturridge and his two goals.
With both teams packed with reserve players or senior figures returning from injury, the fact Sturridge was playing at all reflected his recent problems with form and fitness.
But he scored after only nine minutes as Liverpool pushed their opponents back from the start.
The root of the goal was a mistake by Tottenham’s Georges-Kevin N’koudou but when the Frenchman slipped, Liverpool were quick to capitalise as Marko Grujic progressed down the right to see his shot deflected into Sturridge’s path. From six yards he couldn’t miss and didn’t.
For a while, Liverpool threatened to come fully to life but didn’t quite get there.Origi set up Sturridge for a first-time shot that lacked power while the goalscorer played Grujic clear down the right only for the Serb to to drag a low shot across goal and wide.
At the other end, Tottenham had struggled to penetrate but Vincent Janssen was left free to head over at the far post while a low shot from the Dutch forward was pawed away by Simon Mignolet.
Into the second half and Liverpool found some fresh gears. Driven forward by Origi and assisted from deeper by Georginio Wijnaldum, they were irresistible for a period.
Sturridge contributed an air shot to a lovely Origi cross, Wijnaldum then crashed a drive against a defender after the Belgian set him up and then Origi himself was denied by Vorm’s agility.
All that happened within the space of three or four minutes and before long Liverpool did score again as Origi and Wijnaldum combined to free Sturridge down the centre. His shot, between the keeper’s legs at the Kop end, rolled into the net and seemed to signal the end of the contest
It should have done but Lucas hacked at Spurs sub Erik Lamela three times in the penalty area with 14 minutes left and Janssen drove in the penalty.
It was a stupid spot-kick to concede and after that the outcome was anyone’s guess. Sturridge hit the bar, substitute Danny Ings was denied by Vorm and Spurs’ Harrison failed his team when they needed him most.
One day soon Liverpool will learn their lesson. Until they do, it will be hard to take our eyes off them.
culled from the dailymail.co.uk