60 min LIV 1 TOT 1
Mane rolls Aurier, the full-back plants his face in the turf and is awarded what looks like a cheap free-kick. Mane and Klopp protest but to no avail.
59 min LIV 1 TOT 1
First change: Lucas Moura replaces Lo Celso, who was booked a few minutes ago.
57 min LIV 1 TOT 1
A Son-Kane-Bergwijn triangle in the centre-circle – a key zone for Mourinho’s Spurs – only fails to put the Dutch flyer away because Henderson was alert, raced over and got a toe in.
55 min LIV 1 TOT 1
Liverpool corner on the right, defended well by Tottenham but when Liverpool come back at them Firmono diddles Hojbjerg 40 yards out and the Spurs No5 grabs his shirt and drags him back. Yellow card.
53 min LIV 1 TOT 1
Kane, fed by Lo Celso’s pass, spanks a right-foot riser from 25 yards that vaults the bar. A whole different Tottenham this half.
51 min LIV 1 TOT 1
Alisson shanks a clearance and is off his line when it lands with Kane who goes for the chip and the keeper has to scramble back and make sure it wouldn’t dip in.
49 min LIV 1 TOT 1
Jones slaloms past one defender when found by Firmino but he flays his shot into Alderweireld.
48 min LIV 1 TOT 1
First yellow card of the game – Lo Celso for a late sliding tackle on Robertson. Spurs have switched formation to 4-2-3-1 with Son behind Kane, Bergwijn on the left and, for now, Lo Celso on the right. That’s why he was out there.
46 min LIV 1 TOT 1
They’re away, Spurs kicking off and attacking the Kop.
And straight off Bergwijn is the beneficiary when Williams misjudges a crisp diagonal. He mistime his jump and it parts his hair, Bergwijn latches on to it and drives towards the box. Alexander-Arnold is with him and though he doesn’t get the ball does enough spoiling, pulling his arm a touch, barging him a little, harrying him a lot, to put him off so he scuffs the shot with the outside of his right foot that arcs away from the right post.
Half-time LIV 1 TOT 1
Liverpool have bossed the game on every metric apart from the scoreline and Spurs struck back with skill and clinical efficiency of the counter-attacking assassins Mourinho has made them. Salah looks lethal, though, with his movement and will get more chances.
45 min LIV 1 TOT 1
Mane spins Aurier but the Spurs right-back sticks to his task tenaciously and stabs the ball away as Mane was poised to shift it up to Firmino.
42 min LIV 1 TOT 1
Mane takes the ball, back to goal, 20 yards out, rolls Alderweireld and shoots, slicing it a little and he berates himself when it flies straight at Lloris.
38 min LIV 1 TOT 1
Great save from Lloris, diving across to his right to turn Firmino’s right-foot diagonal strike away.
36 min LIV 1 TOT 1
Brilliant pass from Lo Celso in the centre-circle, switched it with the outside of his left foot down the inside-right. Son was on Williams’ blindside and about an inch onside when he received it and spurted into the box. He opened up his body as if he was going to bend it in at the far corner but closed his ankle at the last minute to drag it inside the near post.
It came only a moment after Sane had bicycle-kicked Henderson’s long header down Lloris’s throat.
32 min LIV 1 TOT 0
Don’t know who those impostors in the red shirts at Craven Cottage but the genuine article is here tonight. Lovely crossfield pass from Alexander-Arnold has Ally McCoist purring.
30 min LIV 1 TOT 0
Spurs are wilting under the cosh of Liverpool’s possession and pressure. Aurier cracks, misplacing a pass that is picked off by Jones. He drives into the box from the left, cuts across the 18-yard line and thrashes a daisy-cutter shot that Lloris gobbles up.
28 min LIV 1 TOT 0
It was on target and will be given to Salah but his left-foot shot was actually deflected by Alderweireld as the two centre-backs tried too close the gap. It loops off his foot over Lloris and into the top right corner. Excellent play by Jones to set up the shop, immaculate control and clever shielding of the ball down the inside-left channel before picking out the appropriate pass.
25 min LIV 0 TOT 0
Liverpool continue to probe but they cannot, as yet, break down Spurs’ two banks of four, often augmented by Kane. Spurs simply can’t get hold of the ball and maintain possession for more than 30 seconds max.
22 min LIV 0 TOT 0
Robertson bombs down the left after being picked out with a Fabinho pass chipped over the top. He cuts inside Aurier, darting past his inside shoulder and picks out Salah 14 yards out to the left of the penalty spot. The pass has pace on it but Salah’s strike is clean but not powerful and he shunts it straight at Lloris who drops to one knee. Had he scuffed it, it may have gone in.
20 min LIV 0 TOT 0
Brilliant close quarters defending from Dier and Alderweireld to see off Salah in the box even if the former inadvertently used his left arm. Spurs break through Sissoko and Kane is clear through the middle. Sissoko chips it across to him but by the time he’s controlled it and brought it down, Alexander-Arnold has raced back to nip it off his toe and send it behind for a corner. Liverpool defend the set-piece well.
18 min LIV 0 TOT 0
Aurier chases back and keeps pace with Mane to hook away Robertson’s long ball up the left.
16 min LIV 0 TOT 0
Mane is punished for handball when missing a header and the ball hits his arm in front of his midriff. Wijnaldum uses the break to get in the referee’s ear about some rough treatment.
14 min LIV 0 TOT 0
Tottenham have it in for Wijnaldum, now Hojbjerg nips him with his studs but Liverpool have the advantage and Robertson, in the box, is in a dangerous position and Alderweireld makes an important tackle to knock the ball out for a corner that comes to naught.
12 min LIV 0 TOT 0
Liverpool drive the free-kick diagonally into the box. Firmino peels off Dier and meets the cross with his head, checking he’s onside before he connects. But he steers it within Lloris’s arc and the keeper dives to his right to gather.
10 min LIV 0 TOT 0
Sissoko is penalised for a painful, raking nibble at Wijnaldum’s achilles. Free-kick, 40 yards out on the left. A minute earlier Alexander-Arnold had blocked Davies cross out for what looked like a corner, and in fact should have been according to the replay, but the referee gave a goalkick.
8 min LIV 0 TOT 0
Mane flashes over a deep cross from the right but its trajectory was perfect for him stepping in off the left. But he was deliverer not recipient and Aurier ushered it away.
7 min LIV 0 TOT 0
Firmino and Salah gang up on Dier who is trying to play out from the back and he has to go back to Lloris. The crowd are thrilled by the intensity of the press.
5 min LIV 0 TOT 0
Sissoko dribbles 40 yards up the right, Robertson happy to shepherd him and keep him penned by the touchline so he has to roll the ball back rather than whipping over a cross. Liverpool smother the attack when they go backwards, snapping into the press.
3 min LIV 0 TOT 0
Tottenham in a 4-4-2 to start with Sissoko on the right, in his old Newcastle and France role, and Bergwijn the left of midfield.
2 min LIV 0 TOT 0
Deep, floaty corner that requires the header to impart too much power on it himself rather than using the force of the cross. Hence Henderson beyond the back post can’t get enough on it to trouble Lloris.
1 min LIV 0 TOT 0
After the players take the knee, Liverpool kick off, attacking the Kop, obviously switched around by Spurs. They work the ball forward quickly to Alexander-Arnold through the inside-right and his 25-yard effort takes a deflection and goes out for a corner.
Of You’ll Never Walk Alone precedes a minute’s silence for Gerard Houllier.
Out come the players
First Tottenham, led by Hugo Lloris, followed by Liverpool with Jordan Henderson leading them out.
Liverpool academy director Alex Inglethorpe
On sending Rhys Williams out on loan to Kidderminster Harriers:
He played 26 games, suffering the usual centre-back perils of a broken nose and a sending off. “Some players have an ego and turn their nose up at playing at a certain level. Not Rhys,” said Inglethorpe. “Credit to him doing it.”
Williams’ temperament is rated among his greatest assets. He was spotted aged eight playing for Cadley Juniors in Preston and joined a Liverpool age group including Curtis Jones and Neco Williams. But for his loan, Williams would have featured in the FA Cup and League Cup last season, yet the frustration of missing out has served him well.
“Players need to realise it is a snakes and ladders board,” says Inglethorpe. “The night of the Villa game [last year’s League Cup quarter-final], it might have looked like the centre-halves who played were a touch ahead. Now it looks like Rhys is a touch ahead.”
And in black and white
Liverpool Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, R Williams, Fabinho, Robertson; Jones, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Substitutes Kelleher, Phillips, N Williams, Keita, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Minamino, Origi.
Tottenham Hotspur Lloris; Aurier, Alderweireld, Dier, Davies; Sissoko, Hojbjerg; Bergwijn, Lo Celso, Son; Kane.
Substitutes Hart, Reguilon, Rodon, Alli, Winks, Ndombele, Lucas Moura.
Referee Anthony Taylor (Wythenshawe).
There will be a minute’s silence for Gerard Houllier tonight
There have been many moving tributes but none more heartfelt than this from Jamie Carragher:
I was leaving Liverpool’s training ground at Melwood when Gerard Houllier summoned me.
“Jamie. Wait. I will give you a lift,” he said as I made my way towards the car park.
I had sensed the Liverpool manager was going to call me eventually. The previous Sunday I had been on the front of a tabloid newspaper after some drinking shenanigans at the club’s Christmas party.
The subsequent pep talk on the short journey to Anfield, where the team coach was waiting to take us to a Boxing Day game in Middlesbrough, was possibly the most important of my life and career.
The Bernabéu seems longer than 18 months ago when Liverpool beat Tottenham 2-0 to win the Champions League final by virtue of Mohamed Salah’s penalty and Divock Origi’s left-foot shot that bookended a curious game. Was that the moment Daniel Levy began to think that Mauricio Pochettino’s star had faded, given how listless Spurs were and how uncharacteristically sentimental a decision it was to persevere with a patently unfit Harry Kane? He was gone within months to usher in the era of Jose Mourinho 4.0, a manager the analysts are now anointing as the king of Covid football tactics.
As they sit in first and second place respectively, Tottenham leading on goal difference, the temptation to view this as a re-running of the strategy Mourinho employed during the match against Chelsea, all power, patience and quick counter-attacking with lethally quick and clinical forwards, is persuasive. It didn’t come off for him that day but he got the point he will always settle for in away games against fellow top four sides and I think he will be looking for the same today. He’ll be delighted to nick it – a la Chelsea in 2014 – but won’t risk losing to go for the victory by freeing his midfielders and wide forwards from their defensive responsibilities when not in possession.
As for Jürgen Klopp, he will be looking for more fluency and a positive reaction to their worst first-half performance for years against Fulham. He has won three and drawn two of his five home league matches against Tottenham but the balance of his defence and midfield, with Virgil van Dijk out and Fabinho filling in, does not seem right until Thiago Alcantara is fit enough to fill the Fabinho-shaped hole in the middle of the park. Sadly he, along with Diogo Jota, Xherdan Shaqiri and James Milner, are still missing while Joel Matip, who had a back spasm at Craven Cottage and had to come off, is a major doubt. If he has to fill in with Jordan Henderson as well as Fabinho, a striker as clever as Kane must fancy his chances down the inside-forward channels.
For Spurs Gareth Bale is still injured and Erik Lamela has also been ruled out. We will have the team news at 7pm for the 8pm kick-off. As we’re all watching on Amazon Prime, I suspect there will be a slight delay in relaying the action as there’s often a little lag on the stream as opposed to direct to one’s dish/through cable. Apologies in advance.