Date: 29th November 2012 at 12:02pm
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*Copy almost any Liverpool FC match report from last 18 months, and paste here*

You would forgive the above statement simply being used, to again describe the Groundhog-like display that all Reds fans have now become accustomed to.

Yet again, a simple, yet staple formula provided the inevitable outcome as Liverpool took on Spurs at White Hart Lane in last night’s Premier League fixture:

poor defending + not taking chances x possession domination – refereeing decisions = 0 points for LFC.

It looks as simple as that when you break down the latest 2-1 defeat.

It should have come as no surprise that the dangermen for Spurs came from both flanks, with Liverpool becoming increasingly susceptible to pace from the wide areas over the past few seasons; enter Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon, who were the home side’s chief tormentors (again) in this fixture.

Perhaps pace was the reason why Brendan Rodgers kept faith in Stewart Downing again, starting the ‘winger’ at leftback again for the second successive game. It made no difference, as the converted fullback suffered another uncomfortable evening in a Red (black/grey last night) shirt.

Shaky at the back, coupled with an un-functioning midfield three again, Liverpool were undone in a poor first 20 minutes. Gareth Bale had already come close twice in the opening 7 minutes before he created the breakthrough; galloping down the left before providing a low cross for fellow winger Lennon to turn in at the back post. One winger assisting the other.

Lennon would later return the favour and provide an assist for Bale in the second-half – unfortunately for them, it would be at the wrong end. But not before Bale got on the scoresheet himself at the right end of the pitch; firing in a 16th minute free-kick, which swerved viciously with the aid of a slight deflection.

Although Liverpool appeared to be blown away in this opening period, they were not without chances of their own, as for all of Spurs’ swash-buckling approach going forward, they too were far from comfortable in defence. Lloris made a smart save from Suarez, whilst Henderson should have done better to capitalise on a mix-up between the Spurs ‘keeper and Kyle Walker – the Reds midfielder failing to find the unguarded net from 20 yards out.

Jose Enrique continued his rich vein of attacking form, but was unconvincing when applying the finishing touches.

Liverpool didn’t panic, despite being two goals down. The philosophy now instilled by Rodgers ensured the side kept probing possession, pulling the home side’s defence this way and that. The Reds pressure should have brought a penalty when Steven Gerrard was blatantly bundled over in the penalty area by Mousa Dembele. But yet again the referee, this time Phil Dowd, failed to give what was obvious to many.

The challenge was later described as “near assault” on Gerrard, by Brendan Rodgers who was again left fuming at another injustice and the incompetence of the match officials this season:

“It’s incredible that we have gone through the season and haven’t had a penalty. Statistics will tell you we’ve been in box as much as anyone and although we know we need to be more clinical, to arrive at this stage of season and not get a penalty … I can go through a whole raft of [incorrect] penalty decisions and offside decisions that were actually pretty straightforward.”

Liverpool were on top for much of the second-half, and Spurs’ only dangerman was now Bale; however his fortunes were to nosedive, as firstly he was booked for…diving!

There is something quite sickening in the reaction of the mainstream media, who still persist with the line that Suarez ‘always seeks to dive’, while certain British players blatantly ‘outshine’ our Uruguayan in that department, and the media continue to give them the ‘benefit of doubt’ – “there was nothing dishonest about the fall” was one such comment I’ve read so far. Will Tony Pulis be telling this week’s media that Gareth Bale is a disgrace?

The Bale show wasn’t finished there though as minutes after his booking, the Welshman’s face got onto the end of an Aaron Lennon defensive clearance from a Steven Gerrard header, and the ball bounced into the Spurs net. A comedic own-goal.

Liverpool continued to fight for the equaliser, but it proved to be in vain. As usual, Suarez was the main threat and he fired a powerful drive inches over the bar in the 80th minute. Rodgers’ anger towards the officials was then further compounded as Suarez, like Gerrard earlier, was denied a strong penalty claim.

It finished 2-1 to Spurs and as mentioned at the top, the result doesn’t reflect the Reds performance…or perhaps, when you break it down, it does.

In any case it was hard to disagree with the Liverpool manager’s claim that the team deserved at least a point from the game:

“After the way we played we would have been disappointed not to win, so to come away with nothing is hard. But if we keep playing like that we’ll win plenty.”

L4L Man of the Match: Jose Enrique. His continued rise back to form continues as he flourishes in his new role. Like in his first 6months at the club – does everything Downing should have been doing, and more.

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