It’s been an interminable wait for two weeks due to the international break but from now on it’s clear sailing until the end of the season; the question is whether we will be in a title race until May or will we end up fighting to hold onto second place? We simply have to win our games to keep the pressure on Leicester, and hope they slip up at some point, which they could do against a useful Southampton side tomorrow.
Going to Anfield with only winning in mind doesn’t seem like an ideal scenario, but it’s important that we forget about our struggles to win there over the years, and instead focus on the inconsistent and erratic team that we’re playing. Why should the venue make a difference to our objective? Yes, we’ve only won one out of 21 league games there, but we were the better side in quite a few of them and just didn’t have the nous to see it through. Judging from how our team has developed this season, I don’t see that being such a problem today if we find ourselves in a winning position.
In terms of team selection, there’s pretty much general agreement about the line-up now, and especially since there are no other competitions to think about. It is vitally important that Alderweireld got over his stomach bug and is playing today, otherwise the whole balance of the team would have to be upset. Lamela is a player whose workrate as well as his quality would have been useful in a game like this but he is not recovered from his knock and Son will take his place.
After the type of game that pundits will describe as “a proper English Premier League game”, we’ve come out of it with a point. On the way the game played out, it’s a perfectly acceptable result, but if the aim is to win the title, it’s a setback. While playing against an inconsistent team is a good thing, unfortunately we found Liverpool on the upswing today.
It was breathless and frenetic in the first half as two pressing teams collided; there were few chances as possession was turned over time and time again, on both sides. Our first touch in the attacking third was a big problem in the first half as moves broke down quickly, while you could see that we’re not used to being pressed since most teams pack their half against us, and we took too much time on the ball in our half that led to a number of Liverpool chances. However that pressing by Liverpool also gave us chances to get in behind and Kane had a few chances to make it count.
However we couldn’t get that first goal as Coutinho scored 5 minutes into the second half; a tough blow but with plenty of time to recover and with a team known for turning around deficits, not a terminal one. That’s exactly how it turned out as we finally clicked into gear and made things happen, however the chances were not converted until Kane collected the cross and spun before shooting into the corner. I would have bet anything on a winner soon following it but instead we had to settle for a point. There is uncertainty of how good that is but not it seems in Pochettino’s mind as he pounded the turf in frustration. Our margin of error has just gotten a lot tighter if we are going to be lifting that trophy in May.