Andy Robertson on cusp of greatness after Liverpool snatch victory over Spurs

Alam Khan 31/03/2019
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A 90th minute own goal from Toby Alderweireld kept Liverpool’s Premier League title hopes alive in a dramatic win over Spurs.

The Belgian defender was aghast after keeper Hugo Lloris pushed a Mohamed Salah header against him.

It settled a tense encounter at Anfield after Lucas Moura had cancelled out Roberto Firmino’s 16th-minute opener.

Andy Robertson burst down the left and delivered an inch-perfect cross for the Brazilian to head home.

But Liverpool were wasteful with opportunities and Spurs came back stronger to level in the 70th minute.

Harry Kane’s quick free kick found Kieran Trippier on the right, and he picked out Christian Eriksen whose scuffed cross was finished by Moura.

Moussa Sissoko then blazed over when clear before the frenetic finale that saw the Reds move two points clear of Manchester City at the top.

SPURS DID NOT BACK THEMSELVES

Having seen Chelsea snatch victory in Cardiff, this was a game Spurs could not afford to lose in the battle for a top-four place.

But Mauricio Pochettino’s decision to play a three-man central defence reeked of fear when they should have been fearless.

This is a side that has gifted individuals and is in the Champions League quarter-finals, good enough to stop Barcelona and overcome Borussia Dortmund in style.

Pochettino should have had greater conviction that his side could win at Anfield for the first time since 2011.

In Jan Vertonghen and Alderweireld they have two of the best centre-backs in Europe, and with Kieran Trippier and Danny Rose in support at full-back, they should have had enough to cope with the Reds attack.

What this change in system did was invite pressure and allow Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold space to drive down their flanks as there was this lack of support in those areas.

Trippier and Rose were isolated, exposed and the centre-backs had a man spare when needed elsewhere.

In one comical incident that summed up the uncertainty, Vertonghen tackled Davinson Sanchez.

And when Firmino headed home the opener, all three were there and couldn’t deal with two Liverpool forwards.

Just after Sanchez was sacrificed in the 69th minute and the system changed, Spurs got their equaliser and looked stronger.

HEND OF THE ROAD FOR SKIPPER

It is commendable that Jurgen Klopp has faith in his players. He trusts them and backs them.

Many would not have gone with Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum in midfield against Spurs.

Too similar, too static.

For an hour they served Klopp dutifully and were dependable. They worked hard and were warriors against the waspish visiting midfield who buzzed around looking to create opportunities.

But it came at the expense of Liverpool’s own creativity. They were lacking in someone to take control, take command and hold the ball amid the wave of Spurs pressure.

Henderson was perhaps once that man, but maybe it is now time for Fabinho – who came on with just 15 minutes to go – to take centre stage. The Brazilian offers more than leadership and effort. He is clever and confident on the ball and the Reds are desperate for someone to make the most of their strengths. They had just three shots on target in this game. That is not good enough for a side chasing the title.

HANDY ANDY GROWING IN STATURE

Liverpool have been blessed with great defenders over the years.

And while Virgil van Dijk is rightly mentioned as a contender for Player of the Year awards and Alexander-Arnold in the Young Player category, the merits of Robertson cannot be ignored.

When he placed a left-wing cross straight onto the head of Firmino for Liverpool’s opener, it was his ninth assist of this league campaign.

In terms of left-backs, only Andy Hinchcliffe 14 years ago and Leighton Baines in the 2010-11 season have bettered that tally with 11.

Given that duo usually took free-kicks and corners and Robertson has to compete with others for that opportunity, it makes the Scot’s statistics all the more remarkable.

What he possesses is an attacking instinct reminiscent of some of the finest full-backs, someone like Marcelo at Real Madrid or David Alaba at Bayern Munich.

He is improving on his defensive awareness too as he showed when making a vital block to deny Christian Eriksen.

Robertson may not get the attention and plaudits he deserves and that may have something to do with Scotland’s struggles on the world stage.

But he has a drive and desire that others should seek to follow and, at 25, is likely to displace Alan Kennedy as Liverpool’s best-ever left back.

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Liverpool and Egypt superstar Mohamed Salah reveals career highlight

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Mohamed Salah during a press conference with kids at Dubai Mall

Liverpool superstar and Egypt icon Mohamed Salah delighted UAE-based school children by holding a press conference at Dubai Mall in his role as adidas ambassador.

Kids aged between seven and 10 years old from Dubai’s DES School were invited to fire questions at the 26-year-old – some football-related and others a little more light-hearted.

Asked for his career highlight so far, Salah, who has been rested during the international break, unsurprisingly picked one of his proudest moments in an Egypt shirt as he said: “I would say the day I scored the goal which qualified Egypt for the World Cup 2018.”

Naturally questions deviated to a more relaxed theme and Salah was quizzed on his favourite and worst subjects in school.


There was only one vocation he has loved, though.








“I didn’t have a favourite subject in school so I’m glad I know how to play football,” Salah said.


Following the Q&A, Salah then made an appearance at the adidas Originals store at The Dubai Mall to greet competition winners and fans, as well as enjoy a performance by local Abu Dhabi-based rapper, Freek with his own track ‘Mo Salah’.


But the day will be long remembered by the school children who were given the opportunity to engage with one of their heroes and one student, Yusef Aneel, said: “I had the best day with Mo Salah. I got the opportunity to ask him questions and play with him after.”



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Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk earns AC Milan legend Franco Baresi's praise

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Virgil van Dijk has been outstanding for Liverpool

AC Milan legend Franco Baresi believes that Liverpool have grown as a team thanks to Virgil van Dijk.

The Dutchman is clearly having the best season of his career with Liverpool, thwarting any danger that comes his way.

The Reds are two points ahead of Manchester City – who have a game in hand – in the Premier League table and a slight slip-up from Pep Guardiola’s men could fetch Liverpool a maiden title of the modern era.

His performance for Liverpool has earned a lot of praise from top players and managers so far, but words from the legendary Baresi surely carries more weight than the rest.

Baresi spoke highly of the 27-year-old and Ajax starlet Matthijs de Ligt. Although, he was not ready to make any comparisons across different eras.

Baresi told AFP: “It is difficult to make comparisons. I like Van Dijk and De Ligt, they are both very strong and very athletic.

“Liverpool have grown hugely as a team recently and a lot of that is thanks to Van Dijk.”

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