We went minute-by-minute for Monday Night Football as Liverpool and Tottenham met at Anfield.
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Liverpool 0-0 Tottenham Hotspur
19.29 – Evening all, and welcome to TheScore.ie‘s minute-by-minute coverage of Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield.
Tonight’s trip to Merseyside marks the beginning of a hugely important four weeks for Harry Redknapp’s men, who know that results between now and 4 March will have a significant impact on their title chances.
Newcastle, Arsenal and Manchester United await further down the line — but tonight, it’s Liverpool who, along with Manchester City, are the only Premier League side still unbeaten at home this season. Tasty.
Kick-off at Anfield is 8pm. I’ll have the team news for you presently.
19.37 – The big news for Liverpool is that star striker Luis Suarez starts from the bench on his return from an eight-game suspension. Craig Bellamy will start behind Andy Carroll in attack.
Liverpool: Reina, Kelly, Skrtel, Agger, Johnson, Adam, Spearing, Kuyt, Gerrard, Bellamy, Carroll. Subs: Doni, Aurelio, Suarez, Henderson, Coates, Downing, Carragher.
19.44 – Spurs will be without manager Harry Redknapp tonight. Redknapp, whose trial for tax evasion at Southwark Crown Court continues, was due to fly up from London this evening but his flight was cancelled because of technical issues with the aircraft.
Kevin Bond and Joe Jordan take charge in Redknapp’s absence. No Lennon, Defoe or van der Vaart for Spurs — Emmanuel Adebayor starts up front.
Tottenham: Friedel, Walker, Dawson, King, Assou-Ekotto, Parker, Livermore, Kranjcar, Modric, Bale, Adebayor. Subs: Cudicini, Saha, Rose, Nelsen, Khumalo, Luongo, Lancaster.
19.46 – The good news for both sides is that the heavy fog which enveloped Merseyside earlier this evening has since lifted. This photo, tweeted from the Spurs official account, was taken at 6pm this evening, but visibility has improved considerably since.
19.52 – “Why doesn’t Jose Enrique start? Pure selection decision, suspension or injury? #justcurious” asks John.
The official line from Liverpool is that Enrique has some muscle tightness and has been left out as a precaution. It looks like Glen Johnson will switch over to a less familiar left-sided role, with Martin Kelly coming in on the right of defence.
19.57 – We’ve been testing the water over on Facebook. Here’s a selection of your pre-match predictions:
20.01 – As the teams come down the tunnel, we just have enough time for a quick reminder of how things stand in the Premier League. A win for Spurs tonight would see them close the gap between themselves and Manchester United in second place to three points again, while three points for Liverpool would move them up to 41 points, two behind Chelsea in that coveted fourth spot.
20.01 – We’re off and running; Spurs play into the Kop end in the first half.
20.07 – A massive shout for a penalty goes up around Anfield, but referee Michael Oliver is having none of it. Steven Gerrard bounds forward through the middle and slips the ball between two defenders to Andy Carroll, who goes down under a perfectly-timed challenge from Michael Dawson. A big call for the referee early on, but he’s bang on the money.
20.09 – Scott Parker fells Glen Johnson right on the edge of the Spurs penalty area, but Gerrard can’t find a way through with the resulting free and it’s hacked clear by the Spurs defence.
20.15 – Last week, a man with a set of handcuffs delayed a game on Merseyside. Tonight, it’s a cat. Brad Friedel didn’t seem too sure what to do there…
20.18 – “We’re not racist, we only hate cats” is the refrain from the Kop as our feline friend is escorted off the pitch.
Fifteen minutes gone here at Anfield, and the game has settled down into a nice rhythm now. Liverpool have had the better of the early chances, but Spurs appear to be causing the home side a bit of confusion with their movement at corners.
20.25 – Kevin Bond and Joe Jordan will be very pleased with how Spurs are organising themselves at the moment. Liverpool have more than their fair share of possession, but they’re finding it very difficult to break Spurs down. Stephen Gerrard tries to set Craig Bellamy free on the left wing but Niko Kranjcar is tracking the run and is able to cut out the danger.
20.28 – A hint of indecision in the Liverpool defence almost hands Spurs a chance. Reina and Skrtel both move to clear a cross inside the six-yard box and, for a second, both of them look to leave it to the other before the keeper takes control of the situation.
20.29 – Adebayor takes the shortest route to goal and runs straight at the Liverpool back four, but he’s isolated and by the time Kranjcar gets up in support, Liverpool have dealt with the danger.
20.33 – Benoit Assou-Ekotto is tucking in a bit at left-full, and it’s leaving Martin Kelly and Dirk Kuyt plenty of room to work the overlap out on Liverpool’s right. Kelly hasn’t quite been able to deliver any dangerous balls yet, though.
20.34 – We’ve hit the half-hour mark here at Anfield, as Charlie Adam whips in a pacey free behind the Spurs back four. Kuyt gets his head on it six yards out, but can’t direct it on target. The flag was up for offside anyway.
20.37 – Chances at both ends as this game moves up a gear. First, Niko Kranjcar tries his luck with a daisy-cutter from 25 yards which Reina needs two attempts to gather. At the other end, Gerrard sets Spearing and the wee man lets the ball roll across his body before thumping his shot half a yard past the post.
20.40 – In other, cat-related news, there appear to be multiple Twitter accounts already dedicated to “the Anfield Cat”. Is this what we have become?
20.41 – Scott Parker is shown the first yellow card of the evening. Liverpool have a free-kick in a dangerous position, central and about 20 yards out, but Bellamy hits it straight into the wall.
20.43 – Liverpool very nearly fluke the game’s opening goal. Glen Johnson swings over a cross which dips in at Friedel’s back post, but the Spurs stopper is alive to the danger and gets down to push it away. Ledley King cleans up the scraps.
20.46 – Spurs look to finish this first half with a flourish, pumping crosses into the Liverpool box but the red jerseys are first to the ball every time.
20.49 – HALF TIME: Liverpool 0-0 Tottenham Hotspur
Glen Johnson stings Friedel’s palms with the final attack of the half and referee Michael Oliver blows for the break before Liverpool have a chance to take the resulting corner.
20.53 – That’s our lot for the moment. No goals in the first half at Anfield, but it’s been an entertaining contest with plenty of half-chances and a couple of interesting individual battles shaping up.
I’m off to stick on the kettle; back in five.
20.59 – That’s the end of the cat talk now, I promise.
21.04 – We’re back underway at Anfield. No changes for either side at the break.
21.11 – Six minutes gone in the second half so far, and it’s been a much quieter affair than the first so far. Luis Suarez takes a trot up and down the line to warm up — how long before we see him introduced, I wonder?
21.15 – Ooo er, it’s all getting a little bit hairy. Bale bursts down the line and takes a tumble as Agger steps across to challenge for the ball. There’s no contact at all between the two and Agger makes sure that Bale knows it, getting in his face to enquire about his make of studs, no doubt. Bale responds by shoving the Dane in the chest, for which he receives a yellow card.
21.17 – That was a chance for Tottenham. Scott Parker hooks a ball to the back post where Adebayor does well to keep it alive. Livermore has a chance to get his head on the ball before it falls to Bale unmarked at the back post. He snatches at the chance though and slices it high and wide.
21.20 – Martin Kelly tests Brad Friedel from the edge of the box, drawing a diving save from the keeper at his near post. It would’ve needed to be something special to beat Friedel from there, though.
21.26 – A huge roar goes up around Anfield as Luis Suarez comes on to replace to Dirk Kuyt for the final 25 minutes. Suarez immediately looks to link up with Steven Gerrard, and King has to intervene to turn the ball behind for a corner.
21.32 – It has taken all of four minutes for Luis Suarez to find himself at the centre of controversy. He challenges Scott Parker for a dropping ball in the Spurs area and catches the Spurs midfielder square in his stomach with a rather wild kick. Suarez is booked for his trouble.
21.35 – Oh, Andy Carroll — chances don’t come much better than that. Martin Kelly puts in a beautiful cross and, although it misses out Downing at the near post, it falls to Carroll on the half-volley at the back post. It’s by no means a sitter, but the striker should at least hit the target, which he doesn’t. Credit to Michael Dawson who put him under pressure as he shot.
21.39 – Gareth Bale is left rolling around on the Anfield turf by a crunching, studs-up Martin Skrtel tackle. The Liverpool man got plenty of the ball before he caught Bale, but I’ve seen people sent off for a lot less than that. Skrtel is booked and, after a moment’s recovery on the sideline, Bale is back.
21.42 – Superb goalkeeping by Brad Friedel who bravely comes through a crowd of players to deal with a deep Steven Gerrard free kick.
Liverpool have been well in the ascendancy in this second half but, with eight or so minutes to play, Spurs are simply refusing to crack at the back.
21.45 – For all of their possession and chances, Liverpool are living right on the edge here, and they’re very fortunate not to go behind. Gareth Bale breaks and he’s one-on-one with Pepe Reina, but his shot is straight at the advancing keeper who hacks it away with his legs. That’s the evening’s best chance, by a mile.
21.47 – This is absolutely frantic stuff now. Luis Suarez sees his name in lights as he finds himself with a free header four yards out. If he puts it either side of Brad Friedel, it’s a goal, but there’s no real direction on the header and the keeper clutches it gratefully to his chest.
21.48 – A minute plus stoppage time remains at Anfield…
21.50 – Another half-chance for Liverpool as Carroll flicks on the header to Suarez. The Uruguayan does well to get his shot off but it’s blocked by Ledley King and then comes back off Suarez’s hand. Free out.
21.50 – We’re into the second of four minutes of stoppage time here. Spurs have a free on the halfway line.
21.51 – Liverpool stream forward again but Johnson’s poor cross is met and cleared by Scott Parker at the edge of the box. He’s been brilliant tonight, a definite Man of the Match candidate.
21.53 – Glen Johnson puts too much loft on the ball and it drifts harmlessly behind for a goal kick. Is that Liverpool’s last chance?
21.54 – And again, Liverpool go long into the box. Andy Carroll controls the ball, but he does so with his hand according to referee Michael Oliver. That must be it.
21.55 – FULL TIME: Liverpool 0-0 Tottenham Hotspur
22.01 – Michael Dawson: “We dug deep because we had to. They’re a good team Liverpool, but we’ve come here and put on a good performance.”
22.04 – Man of the Match Scott Parker reassures us that the family jewels are still intact after that kick from Suarez; good to know. He’ll have done his chances of picking up the England captaincy no harm with a performance like that.
22.07 – So that’s it. For all of their possession, Liverpool couldn’t find their way past a well-drilled Tottenham side who defended brilliantly, marshalled by an inspired Scott Parker sitting in front of the back four. Gareth Bale could’ve nicked it late on, but Spurs will come away from Anfield happy with a scoreless draw tonight.
22.10 – Spurs remain third, but the gap between themselves and Manchester United in second is now five points.
It’s Liverpool’s eighth home draw of the season. They stay seventh tonight, four points behind Chelsea in fourth place.
22.11 – That’s it from us, thanks for stopping by. We’ll be back bright and early in the morning, see you then.