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article imageLively Liverpool force Spurs into defensive errors at Anfield

By Tyrrell Meertins     Mar 30, 2014 in Sports
Tim Sherwood is not an astute tactician, but he surely could have learned from Spurs’ home defeat against Liverpool in December that led to Andre Villas-Boas’ sacking.
With both sides straying away from playing defensive-minded midfielders, goals were expected. Though, while Liverpool has displayed their tactical flexibility throughout the course of the season, Spurs have looked a side desperately lacking a tactical identity under Sherwood.
The contrast between both sides was evident –– Liverpool comfortably thrash opponents at Anfield, while Spurs have been on the receiving end of heavy defeats against Chelsea, Manchester City, and Brendan Rodgers’ side, this season.
"You have seen enough of me ranting and raving but I have to analyze it. Our performances against the top four have not been good enough."
Here, Liverpool didn’t create many clear-cut chances in the opening half, but the front three constantly pressed Spurs’ back four, which saw them concede possession on numerous occasions, and make unusual defensive mistakes. Rodgers’ side were ruthless on the break, and clearly the superior side for majority of the match. Sherwood's simplistic approach saw Liverpool stroll past the North London side.
Within the opening minute, the home side found themselves ahead as Christian Eriksen failed to track Glen Johnson’s run, and the Liverpool right-back’s cross deflected off Younes Kaboul and into the net. Spurs’ frailties at the back continued to haunt them as a simple misplaced Steven Gerrard ball was utilized poorly by substitute Michael Dawson. Dawson’s pass enabled Luis Suarez to dispossess Kaboul, and run clear on goal to double Liverpool’s lead. Matters got worse for Kaboul as he conceded possession on the left flank, which saw Raheem Sterling latch onto the loose ball, and play an inch-perfect cross to Suarez at the far post, but Hugo Lloris’ acrobatically pushed the Uruguayan’s effort off the cross bar.
"The game was finished after two mistakes," Sherwood said. "Anyone can make errors it is just a shame we get punished as we did."
Despite Spurs’ poor play in the first half, the away side received opportunities to shift the momentum. The oddity behind Sherwood’s decision to field Eriksen on the left and Nacer Chadli as the no.10 remain, but the duo both completed powerful runs into the final third; however, the duo lacked a final ball when they got into dangerous positions. Likewise, Spurs enjoyed possession in Liverpool’s third, which resulted in Simon Mignolet comfortably saving Roberto Soldado and Nabil Bentaleb’s efforts –– but they failed to get behind Liverpool’s back four.
In the second half, Sherwood’s decision to press Liverpool in advanced areas proved costly. Jon Flanagan bypassed Spurs’ press and found Philippe Coutinho in a pocket of space near the halfway line. The Brazilian ran towards the box –– with no Spurs players aiming to close him down –– and fired a terrific shot past Lloris.
"To perform like we did from the first whistle it was an immense performance and I am very proud of the them today," Rodgers said.
"It is credit to the players, the mentality in each game, we have shown over the course of the season the flexibility in the team - we have a played a 4-4-2 diamond in recent games today but today it was back to 4-3-3 but with two strikers up-field with one side open - so that is credit to them the flexibility and the ideas we have in games, but everyone knows their job and when to press."
While the players responsible for the individual mistakes can be held responsible, Sherwood’s approach was baffling. The Spurs manager doesn’t possess a well-thought out plan, nor has he offered the North London club a tactical identity. The arrival of a new manager usually offers a response within the squad, but Sherwood has yet to make any significant improvements since his appointment.
Spurs are still in search of their best eleven, and although the lack of quality in defence is vivid, Sherwood’s inability to utilize the attacking options at his disposal, along with adopting a pragmatic approach will see him suffer the same fate as Villas-Boas.
Champions League football will rightfully elude Spurs for the fourth consecutive year.
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