Liverpool put the final nail in AVB’s coffin with 5-0 drubbing

December 16, 2013 in Premier League by George Curtis

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Liverpool put in a performance of the highest quality at White Hart Lane on Sunday to leave André Villas-Boas staring down the barrel at his second sacking in English football. For Liverpool, it was their first win at White Hart Lane for five-and-a-half years, but for Spurs, they failed to muster a shot on target for the first time since Opta Stats began.

If there had been a criticism of Liverpool in the opening 15 games of a highly productive Barclays Premier League campaign to date, it had been their inability to convert brutal goalscoring incisiveness against the lesser teams into the bigger matches. Brendan Rodgers’ side was brushed aside with disdain by league leaders Arsenal in November, whilst being unable to find the net against high-flying Southampton back in September. They only put one past a floundering Manchester United side too, and people were beginning to question, as an encounter with Tottenham approached, whether they were clinical enough against the better teams.

Any such questions were quickly withdrawn and shredded during an afternoon of sheer ruthlessness on Spurs’ home patch, a destination Liverpool have had notorious struggles at in recent times. Tottenham, themselves, haven’t found many home comforts this season, suffering a resounding 3-0 defeat at the hands of London rivals West Ham United, who have been playing without a striker for much of the campaign, while also being downed by Alan Pardew’s Newcastle. This was by no means a fortress Liverpool were entering.

Tottenham fans were still scrubbing off the memories of their team’s 6-0 capitulation at the Etihad Stadium three weeks earlier when Luis Suárez slalomed his way through a static defence to slip his team into the lead after 18 minutes. Suárez is in the kind of form that no team can halt in a hurry, but the real cause for concern for Tottenham was the ease with which the visitors were closing down and winning back possession. Spurs wanted too much time on the ball, Liverpool wanted the ball back and duly took it, like a thief taking candy from a baby.


The gulf in class was such that Liverpool could double their lead before half time, through Jordan Henderson. Henderson, awarded the man-of-the-match accolade, put the finishing touches to another rapid Liverpool break after he and Suárez had both been denied by Hugo Lloris.

Spurs were finding retaining possession and inciting pressure hard enough with 11 men, so when Brazilian midfielder Paulinho was shown a straight red card for planting his studs into Suárez’s chest, there was to be little chance of a turnaround. John Flanagan made doubly sure that there was to be no Spurs fightback when he dispatched Suárez’s cross into the roof of the net for his first Liverpool goal, much to the unprecedented delight of his manager and teammates.

Things began to turn ugly for the home side when Suárez lobbed the onrushing Lloris to make it 4-0, and Raheem Sterling netted his second Premier League goal of the season in the dying embers after Suárez again slipped him through on goal.


Liverpool’s potency and profiency was as good as Tottenham were bad. All of the characteristics which have dogged them throughout the season came together in one big cauldron of ineptitude and vulnerability. They couldn’t keep the ball, they couldn’t win the ball back, Roberto Soldado was a stranded figure once again, and the defence pushed too high, allowing the pacey trio of Suárez, Sterling and Philippe Coutinho to run a mockery. Liverpool were simply mesmerising.

As for Spurs, the fallout from the defeat has seen Villas-Boas depart the club by “mutual consent.” It was perhaps a long time coming given the decline of a team who played some of the most adventurous, fearless football in the country under Harry Redknapp. Their negativity under AVB was emphasised by a dire goalscoring record.

Another question that should be asked, however, is that of Director of Football Franco Baldini, the person whom many believe to be in charge of Tottenham’s transfer dealings. The money received for the world-record sale of Gareth Bale was shared around like the great plague on unproven talent such as Etienne Capoue, Erik Lamela and Paulinho. Lamela, at £30mill, seems to be a seriously poor piece of business. But, was Baldini really in control of transfers? If so, did AVB have any say in the matter? Were any of the players Tottenham brought in given the green light by the manager? In all honesty, they’re questions that don’t matter anymore, but questions that Spurs fans will doubtless want the answers to.


Fabio Capello is the current favourite to take over the reigns from AVB, but will a manager of his ilk want to inherit a squad made up of underperforming players, who may not actually be good enough to compete at the top of the Premier League? I doubt, also, that Daniel Levy will rush to spend another £50mill to revamp the squad and readdress the blunders he made in the summer transfer window. They can, however, take solace from their Sunday opponents, who were dogged by a series of poorly-judged transfers under the stewardship of Damien Comolli. The Frenchman was responsible for bringing in Andy Carroll for £35mill from Newcastle, Stewart Downing for £20mill from Aston Villa, as well as the likes of Christian Poulsen and Paul Konchesky, two of the worst signings in Liverpool’s Premier League history.

Not two years later and the aforementioned players have all been sold, albeit for a huge loss, but sold nonetheless. Liverpool now have a fledgling youth setup and a scouting network that has helped them bring in the likes of Luis Alberto, Mamadou Sakho and Daniel Sturridge, all of whom are expected to play a massive part in Liverpool’s future. That’s just an indication of what can be resolved from a crisis.

For the time being though, it’s all a bit of a mess down in N17.