Liverpool 3 Tottenham Hotspur 0: Toothless Spurs run out of excuses

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The Independent Online

It does not require a scientist to work out why Tottenham Hotspur are enduring a run at odds with their expectations. A mathematician, maybe, to count the number of minutes since they last scored in the Premiership, but other academic attributes are not required.

It is now more than seven hours since they last located the net in the league and the optimism of five weeks ago is dribbling away. A Champions' League place was their aim this season but if they continue in their current vein a position in the Premiership might be the height of their ambitions. Certainly, their Uefa Cup ambitions are becoming less of a priority.

Losing 3-0 at Anfield is not a disgrace but it was the way they succumbed that was most galling. One moment Jermaine Jenas was making a bid for the worst miss of the season, the next Mark Gonzalez was beginning what became a rout in the final 20 minutes as Dirk Kuyt and John Arne Riise unleashed thunderbolts past Paul Robinson. You could make a case for misfortune, except Tottenham are making a habit of pleading for mitigation.

They could have beaten Manchester United at Old Trafford, they might have been 1-0 up against Liverpool with less than half an hour to go. But they keep missing their chances and the excuses are becoming repetitive. The fixtures they face after Slavia Prague on Thursday are hardly encouraging either as they meet resurgent Portsmouth and Aston Villa.

"I'd rather have an average performance and get a result because, at the moment, we need one," Danny Murphy said, showing a realism that is urgently required. "It's easy to say we haven't had the rub of the green and that little things aren't going for us, but we've got to score some goals and win some games.

"The table doesn't tend to lie, but it is early. Our three away games that we've lost were Bolton, Manchester United and Liverpool: three of the hardest games you'll get. Really tough. The defeat to Everton at home was really disappointing, but we've got to do better. There's no point hiding behind excuses or hard luck stories."

As a former Anfield man, Murphy, naturally, was complimentary about Saturday's opponents and while Tottenham are pondering how to turn round their season, Liverpool, with successive wins, appear to have made the manoeuvre. That, in part, is down to Rafael Benitez playing the same set of strikers for four matches in succession which has at least made it easier for midfield players, who no longer have to spend moments remembering whether they should be hitting the ball high or long for Peter Crouch or Craig Bellamy.

"Liverpool could go on and achieve anything," Murphy said. Equally, they could be undermined by Benitez's endless tinkering. Expect a change against Galatasaray on Wednesday.

Goals: Gonzalez (63) 1-0; Kuyt (73) 2-0; Riise (90) 3-0.

Liverpool (4-4-2): Reina; Finnan, Hyypia, Agger, Riise; Gerrard, Alonso (Carragher, 84), Sissoko, Gonzalez (Aurelio, 77); Bellamy (Garcia, 68), Kuyt. Substitutes not used: Dudek (gk), Crouch.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Robinson, Chimbonda, Dawson, King, Assou-Ekotto; Jenas, Zokora, Murphy (Mido, 80), Tainio (Davids, 61); Keane, Defoe. Substitutes not used: Cerny (gk), Lee, Huddlestone.

Referee: H Webb (Yorkshire).

Booked: Liverpool Hyypia.

Man of the match: Dawson.

Attendance: 44,330.

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