Football Features

From ‘Klopp’s Denis Law’ to TEN cards, stats and reaction from the madness of Spurs 2-2 Liverpool

By Ben Green

Published: 19:09, 19 December 2021

A pulsating, almost breathless encounter in the capital capped off a rather subdued Premier League weekend as Tottenham and 10-man Liverpool shared the spoils in a 2-2 brawl.

It is already being dubbed the ‘game of the season’ as Liverpool and Spurs went toe-to-toe in a flurry of leather, with the fistic subconscious of both teams bubbling to the surface as goals, VAR drama, tempers and cards (lots of cards) dictated this fiery showdown.

There were enough talking points in this game to, not only make up for the six Premier League fixtures postponed this weekend, but also to take us through for the rest of the festive calendar and possibly into the New Year.

Harry Kane scored and should have got sent off; Andy Robertson scored and did get sent off; Diogo Jota scored and should have got a penalty; Alisson produced the save of the season, then the blunder of the season; Son Heung-min got a goal; Jurgen Klopp was apoplectic; and Paul Tierney dished out 11 bookings.

There is a lot to unravel, but here we breakdown some of the best reactions and stats from a Premier League classic, step by step.

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Harry Kane: deadlock-breaker, red-card escapist

It was an eventful contest for Harry Kane. Struggling for form heading into this showdown, the reigning Golden Boot holder got Spurs off to a flyer with a trademark caress past Alisson, finally netting his first Premier League home goal of the season, meaning he has seven goals in 13 appearances in the top flight against Liverpool.

In truth, Kane should have had a hat-trick (at least) given the number of gilt-edged chances that fell his way. The Spurs marksman finished the game with the highest xG (expected goals) of any player (1.03) and over double the number of shots of his closest challenger (six, Milner, Jota and Keita all finished with three).

But, arguably the biggest talking point that will come out from this game, as far as Kane is concerned anyway, is his reckless lunge on Robertson during the first half. Charging in studs up, Kane’s mistimed ‘challenge’ caught the Glaswegian and sent him tumbling to the turf, with Tierney brandishing a yellow in his direction.

Klopp was naturally dismayed by the decision, with VAR carrying out a quick check to deem the foul worthy only of a cautious. The post-challenge reaction was a mixture of confusion and frustration as the video assistant referee appeared to miss out on what seemed a textbook red card (though Kane seemed to think otherwise).

During the half-time analysis Jamie Redknapp even intimated that Kane perhaps escaped further punishment because of his status as England skipper, while Jamie Carragher pondered whether the referees were somewhat influenced this weekend by last week’s flurry of ‘soft spot-kicks’.

Asked if Kane should have been sent off in the Sky Sports studio, Redknapp replied: “Yes. I’ve seen players sent off for less. Sometimes reputation, like being England captain, they do help you.”

Diogo Jota: jack-in-the-box, fox-in-the-box

Diogo Jota was once again sensational, scoring a ridiculously cool header, his third of the campaign to consolidate his standing as the division’s most aerially prolific player. In fact, since start of last season, only Calvert-Lewin (eight) and Christian Benteke (seven) have netted more headed league goals than Jota’s six.

Such has been Jota’s impact at Anfield that Carragher likened his playing style to that of Manchester United immortal Denis Law. Guest pundit Jermain Defoe meanwhile described him as the “smallest man in the box”, smaller than himself apparently, though we can, in fact, confirm that Jota (5ft 10in) is taller than Defoe (5ft 7in). 

Later that half Jota, racing through on goal, appeared to suffer a barge in the back in Tottenham’s area from Emerson Royal, but nothing doing from the referee’s perspective. Carragher believed Liverpool should have had a spot kick, even suggesting the eight penalties awarded last weekend may be influencing referees’ decision this week (Ederson escaped punishment for a challenge on Ryan Fraser in Newcastle United’s earlier defeat to Manchester City).

Klopp was naturally incensed and received a caution for his visible outburst on the touchline, before cameras captured him appearing to lecture Tierney in the tunnel…

Andy Robertson: Moment of magic, moment of madness

Robertson was also riding the crest of a wave this match until the red mist descended over him. He provided his 44th Premier League assist to tee up Jota early on — Leighton Baines is the only defender in the competition’s history with more. And he then followed up with his first goal of the season… before ensuing chaos.

The Scot lashed out at Emerson in the dying embers, prompting Tierney to hand out yet another yellow, but upon inspection from VAR and a quick glance at the monitor, the referee overturned his decision to send off Liverpool’s left-back, making it quite the day at the office for the defender.

Alisson: Save of the season, blunder of the season

A Jakyll and Hyde showing like no other. Two moments summed up the Brazilian’s game: first, a world class save to deny Dele Alli. Fingertip perfection. Then a mistimed sweep, charging out in typical style to clear the danger before the ball squirmed through his legs and Son tucked into an empty net.

Other stats that you might have missed among the madness