Tottenham 1-1 Liverpool: Talking points from White Hart Lane
By Peter Smith
Last Updated: 28/08/16 10:05am
From controversial calls to Tottenham's attack, we look at talking points from the draw at White Hart Lane...
Tottenham's Danny Rose struck in the second-half to earn a draw against Liverpool, after James Milner had earlier converted a penalty.
Here, we round up the talking points from a pulsating encounter…
Three close calls from referee Robert Madley and his officiating team proved significant in this clash between evenly matched teams.
After high profile penalties for pushing and shoving in the box at Stoke last weekend, Jan Vertonghen appeared to be taking a risk when he bundled Joel Matip to the ground at a Liverpool corner. The referee blew his whistle but, rather than point to the spot, simply spoke to both players. Jurgen Klopp was aggrieved on the touchline and told Sky Sports after the game his side should have had a penalty.
The Reds were eventually awarded a spot-kick just before the break when Erik Lamela clipped Roberto Firmino's heel and caused the Brazilian to trip over in the box, giving Milner the chance to convert.
Tottenham supporters may argue the contact came outside of the area but Sky Sports' Jamie Carragher felt the correct call was made. "Ninety-nine per cent of [Firmino's] body is in the box and it's very difficult for the officials," he said. "It goes either way. But I don't think Spurs can complain."
The Reds had the ball in the net once more midway through the second half, when Sadio Mane tucked home Adam Lallana's cross. However, the England man was adjudged to have strayed beyond Rose and was ruled offside.
It was a call which split the Sky Sports pundits. Jamie Redknapp called the decision a good one, Graeme Souness argued the benefit of doubt should have gone with the attacker and Carragher sympathised with the difficulty the situation presented the referee's assistant.
Jurgen Klopp said it was "not the biggest mistake in world football" - but its impact on the game was clear when Rose fired in an equaliser 16 minutes later.
Tottenham's trouble in attack
Liverpool's defending has come in for criticism already this season but Spurs - second only to Manchester City in the scoring charts last season - struggled to create openings against their visitors on Saturday. Their frustrations in the final third were summed up by the failure of either of their forwards, Harry Kane and Vincent Janssen, to register a single shot on goal.
Kane began the game leading the line but when Kyle Walker was forced off with illness on 28 minutes Mauricio Pochettino opted to alter his side's shape, moving the England striker to a No 10 role and sending on summer signing Janssen.
It proved to be a tough afternoon for the Dutchman, who found himself isolated from his team-mates for long periods. In his 62 minutes on the pitch he managed just one touch (18) more than Walker had before his substitution. Kane - who has not scored in 10 Premier League appearances in August and just twice in 13 games for club and country - completed just six of his attempted 19 passes before he was substituted.
However, Souness backed the pair to come good, saying contributions from Lamela and Christian Eriksen didn't help the Spurs frontmen. "Janssen was a yard off the pace that's need in the Premier League," said Souness. "But if I was playing against Tottenham, I'd prefer to see Kane in a deeper role. He's an absolute threat when he gets further up the pitch. He will get goals. He's an all-round very good football player. The problems weren't just with Kane - Lamela and Eriksen didn't get into the game."
Liverpool bring the intensity
Klopp's first game in charge of Liverpool in mid-October was notable for the fact his side became the first to out-run Tottenham last season. They brought the intensity to White Hart Lane again on Saturday, covering 116km to Tottenham's 115km. They recorded more sprints than their hosts, too (609 v 534).
Liverpool - Premier League 2016/17
|Distance covered (km)||Sprints|
That sprints figure is Liverpool's highest mark of the season yet, a four per cent increase on their total against Arsenal, and highlights the pace with which they pressed Spurs and so often pinned them back.
Philippe Coutinho should have scored from close range in the first-half when Firmino teed him up but the opening had come from Lallana and Jordan Henderson combining to close down and dispossess Eriksen. It was just one example of Liverpool's pressing paying off, from a typically intense performance.
Matip's encouraging debut
Matip made his Premier League debut for Liverpool against Tottenham and the summer signing impressed at the centre of defence - albeit after a shaky opening 20 minutes.
The Cameroon international was nearly caught out early on when he failed to spot a Dele Alli run and gave the ball away on several occasions in the early stages. He could even have given away a penalty, when he prevented Janssen from running onto a loose ball in the area. However, he settled into the match and earned praise from both Carragher and Souness for his display at the final whistle.
No player on the pitch made more clearances (10) or interceptions (three) and Matip even went close to marking his debut with a goal, heading a corner onto the top of the bar.
After seeing his side's first-half lead slip at Spurs - a week on from defeat at Burnley, despite dominance in possession - Klopp told Sky Sports he was frustrated to have four rather than nine points from the first three games of the season. Similarly, Milner said the team were "ultimately disappointed" with a draw at White Hart Lane.
The victory at Arsenal was a thrill to watch for Liverpool supporters and neutrals alike, but from the defensive errors which allowed the Gunners back into that match and Burnley to win at Turf Moor, to the failure to convert their first-half edge into a more comfortable advantage at Spurs, there remain issues for Klopp to address.
The same can be said of Pochettino and his Tottenham team who, like last season, appear to be taking their time to warm up. "It hasn't been a great start for Tottenham," said Carragher. "They didn't look like scoring a lot today, against Palace they needed a late goal and at Everton they didn't create too much there."