Spurs: Højbjerg 49’
Reds: Firmino 45+4’, Alexander-Arnold 47’, Mané 65’
The big news pre-match is that our makeshift centerback Fabinho is out with a “minor muscle injury,” making him the second makeshift centerback to pick up a knock in as many weeks. Thankfully our other makeshift centerback, captain Jordan Henderson is back. We are literally limping along at this point.
Elsewhere, things are mostly as expected. A win would be nice, but it seems almost inconceivable given recent performances, referee conspiracies, and a ball that just won’t seem to bounce for us. Anyway, up the Reds.
Never mind. Martin Atkinson is the ref tonight.
Sadio. My man. Sigh.
Salah put him through 1 on 1 with the keeper, but the Senegalese put the effort wide from about 8 yards out. You cannot miss chances like that. Not ever, really. But definitely not tonight!
Because...that. Son goes down and immediately takes his chance.
BUT! A VAR REPRIEVE! Son forgot to clip his toenails this morning, and was correctly (?) adjudged to be offside. Whatever, we’ll take it. Anyway, a lively opening 3 minutes! It could, probably should be 1-1, but it’s somehow still scoreless. The ball is round, VAR is VAR, etc.
Meanwhile, Firmino is trying to get in on some of that sweet Manchester United magic penalty sauce, but to the surprise of absolutely no one, Atkinson isn’t buying it.
Half way through the half and Liverpool are actually playing pretty well. As well as we’ve seen in recent weeks. Which is to say, not stellar but it’s a low bar to clear. Despite having the majority of possession, and surviving the early scare, Son remains terrifying on the break.
Harry Kane throws himself into Henderson, loses out, and then fakes an injury for several minutes. Business as usual.
Meanwhile, Mané has been Liverpool’s main threat. Though, still hasn’t managed to do the thing that we need him to do: score a fucking goal. Firmino has also impressed with his passing and hold up play so far tonight.
GOAL! Or Mané could forget about the whole scoring business. And Bobby can forget about the whole pulling the strings business. Sadio is played through into acres of space and he picks out Bobby for a tap in from about 2 yards at the stroke of halftime.
So, good news, bad news. Bad news first: Nat Phillips is on for Joel Matip. Please, don’t be anything serious. Good news:
GOAL!! Moments after Liverpool nearly double their lead through a Salah effort, Trent Alexander-Arnold latches onto a Sadio Mané rebound, hammering it home with a first time effort.
Goal. Well, that two-goal cushion didn’t last long. Højberg hits a venomous shot from outside the box. It needed to be special to beat Alisson, and it was.
And then Phillips goes into the book. Interesting opening 5 minutes to the half.
VAR giveth and VAR taketh. Of course, VAR has mostly taketh from Liverpool this season, as it did again just now. It looked like Firmino and a freshly-bandaged Dread Pirate Thiago combined to start a fantastic counter that culminated in a thunderous Mo Salah goal. But it was chalked off for a handball, because Bobby touched the ball while being bearhugged by the Spurs defender. Martin Atkinson was not going to waste this opportunity.
GOAL!!! THAT ONE COUNTS. Alexander-Arnold sends in a cross from deep with just Sadio Mané in the box. It was a low-percentage effort. But the ball was perfect, and the first-time finish was unerring.
Liverpool did the thing! They won! A Premier League match! And these might be 3 vital points. While Liverpool’s title hopes have probably evaporated over the last month’s goal and point drought, they’ll need to start picking up results to finish in the Top 4. In that regard, winning tonight and keeping Tottenham at bay was a big result.