Liverpool turned up to White Hart Lane trying to overturn a spell of poor results at the Spurs home ground in the past few years, not winning in six attempts, and did so on Sunday through hard work, determination and playing scintillating football.
In this article I will examine the two midfield trios from each side, consisting of Mousa Dembele, Paulinho and Sandro for Spurs – and Joe Allen, Jordan Henderson and Lucas Leiva for Liverpool.
Dembele, Paulinho and Lewis Holtby – vs – Joe Allen, Jordan Henderson and Lucas Leiva (with an appearance from Sandro)
Where do we begin? An abject performance from all three players this afternoon in terms of a Spurs perspective. It’s hard to fathom why the two Brazilians and the Belgian didn’t turn up today, when considering their decent respective performances against Manchester United two weeks ago. But, Sandro, Mousa Dembele and Paulinho simply didn’t turn up, while Joe Allen, Jordan Henderson and Lucas bossed the midfield, we will compare both midfields in terms of tackling, passing breakdown and creativity.
To begin, here are the player influences from FourFourTwo’s Stats Zone:
Look how bold Henderson, Allen and Lucas are compared to Dembele, Paulinho and Holtby. Quite incredible really. Liverpool were simply outstanding in every department today, and I don’t think many pundits predicted Liverpool to boss the Spurs midfield in the manner quite like they did. Simply outstanding.
This was a day when Joe Allen finally looked like he deserved the praise that Brendan Rodgers placed upon his head when signing for the club in the summer of 2012. The Welsh midfielder made a total of 8 tackles, successfully tackling his opponent 7/8 times – a tackling success rate of 88%. His team-mates were not quite to his level in terms of total tackles, with Henderson making, and winning, both of his attempted tackles, while Lucas made 1 tackle, and won it.
The Spurs midfield trio, however, made a total of five tackles between them, with Paulinho winning 4 out of 4, and Mousa Dembele making just one, and Sandro not making a tackle in his brief encounter with the Liverpool midfield. Although, when Sandro was substituted, his replacement Lewis Holtby made a total of three tackles, winning all three.
In terms of ground duels, Spurs’ midfield trio totalled 30 ground duels, winning 11 of these – while Liverpool made 29 ground duels, winning 17 – with 15 of those total ground duels coming through Joe Allen, who successfully won 11 of them. Not a bad display for the central midfielder.
When analysing the possession element of the two midfields performances, Lucas Leiva tops interceptions with (4), while Allen totalled (2) and Henderson (1). The Spurs midfield made just (1) interception through Mousa Dembele. The ability of Liverpool’s reading of the game the telling statistic of how they simply dominated from Spurs from start to finish.
Total losses of possession is also a telling factor in the game between the two sides, the Spurs trio accumulated a total of 34 possession losses, while Liverpool accumulated just 23.
What is astounding of this Spurs midfield display is that the Spurs midfield trio are there to intimidate, and Liverpool’s midfield three are there to play neat football and keep hold of possession, today, Liverpool did both to outstanding effect.
This category is a straightforward victory for the Liverpool midfield trio. As expected.
Joe Allen completed a total of 44/49 passes – a 90% pass rate. Jordan Henderson completed 58/63 passes – a 92% pass rate. Lucas Leiva completed 51/54 passes – a 94% pass rate.
Spurs’ midfield trio pales in comparison of Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool side. Mousa Dembele topped the midfield passing stats with a passing rate of 86%, 24/28 passes found his man. Lewis Holtby found his man just 69% of the time, successfully completing 20/29 while Paulinho also completed just 20 passes, out of a total of 27, a pass rate of 74%.
When looking at the passing breakdown of both midfields, the breakdown will be judged in terms of defensive, attacking and final thirds.
Paulinho’s percentage in terms of passes in terms of the three different areas of the pitch reads as 21% in the defensive third, 79% in the attacking and 31% in the final third.
Mousa Dembele averaged 50% of his passes in the defensive third, 50% in the attacking third and 18% in the final third.
Lewis Holtby averaged 32% of his passes in the defensive third, 68% in the attacking third and 35% in the final third.
While this doesn’t really paint a picture of the ineffectiveness of Spurs’ display, the next statistic may sway you.
In terms of final third entries, passes into the final third, Hugo Lloris and Kyle Naughton made the most final third entries for Spurs, both making (8) entries. Not a great statistic for Spurs as a collective. In comparison, Liverpool’s final third entries ranged from the likes of Philippe Coutinho (13), Glen Johnson (9) and Jordan Henderson (8) to Lewis Holtby (5), Nacer Chadli (5) and Kyle Walker (7).
Spurs rarely look comfortable on the ball at White Hart Lane so far this season, they rarely look incisive, rarely look creative and their home performances really have begun to look more and more depressing when analysing it in depth. If Andre Villas-Boas is to save his job, he will have to make his side quicken the tempo, be more creative, and in general, try to attack sides that come to White Hart Lane, rather than filling midfield with three players that don’t create anywhere near enough chances to supply the Spurs forward players with.
As stated above, Spurs midfield trio is not creative – and only looks like there may be some flair within the midfield when Lewis Holtby came on for Sandro. The German midfielder created (2) chances for his side, with one coming from a set play and one coming from open play. Sandro and Paulinho both created one chance apiece.
Whereas Jordan Henderson created (3) – grabbing an assist in the process. In terms of creativity from midfield, it seems Spurs have won that particular battle, but these stats deceive the eye, with Spurs’ chances created coming to nothing when considering the team didn’t managed to get one shot on target at home. A truly abject performance.
Mousa Dembele successfully completed three dribbles in the 5-0 home loss to Liverpool, with Lewis Holtby successfully completing two. The Liverpool midfield trio attempted a total of 0 dribbles.
In case you haven’t noticed yet, I’m a huge Spurs fan and was witness to this mauling from Liverpool at White Hart Lane. As stated above, Liverpool were simply outstanding on the day with Luis Suarez running Michael Dawson and Etienne Capoue ragged; Raheem Sterling bossing Kyle Naughton; Philippe Coutinho bossing things in the final third, and the Liverpool midfield trio of Allen, Henderson and Lucas winning the battle of midfield against Dembele, Paulinho and Holtby, something at the start of the game I couldn’t possibly imagine.
It’s hard to judge how Spurs will react to this, the fans are even more split on the manager more than ever, they don’t have consistency flowing through the team like Liverpool do, and it’s hard to judge how Daniel Levy will react to this thumping from Liverpool.
Irrelevant to the argument of the two midfields, but one particular statistic is startling when analysing it – Liverpool have scored more open play goals at White Hart Lane than Spurs have done all season. Let that one sink in – also – Spurs had 9 shots, with none on target. Worrying times ahead for Spurs over a hectic Christmas schedule.
Liverpool, on the other hand, look like genuine title contenders, and currently have the best player in the Premier League up front for them. Brendan Rodgers has Liverpool playing magnificent football, and with Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard to return for the Merseyside club, it’s exciting times for the Liverpool faithful.