Tottenham vs Liverpool: Hugo Lloris expects Spurs to wipe away shame of 4-0 and 5-0 defeats last season
Tottenham suffered heavy defeats home and away against Liverpool last term - but Spurs are hoping things will be different this time around
Friday 29 August 2014
For Tottenham Hotspur and Hugo Lloris, tomorrow afternoon brings not just a chance to move forward, to continue their winning start and to stay on top of the Premier League. It is also a chance to atone for the humiliations of last season, the routine humblings Spurs faced from the league’s best sides.
Liverpool are the lunchtime visitors to White Hart Lane and Spurs will be desperate to make up for what happened in this fixture last year... and in their trip to Anfield... and in their two games against Manchester City.
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Across those four matches against the Premier League’s top two sides, Spurs conceded an implausible 20 goals – as well as another four at Stamford Bridge – revealing a team clearly deficient in the character and structure required to take on the best.
“Last season it broke our confidence,” admitted goalkeeper Lloris, when asked about those particular defeats. “When you lost once it could happen, but when you lost against top teams twice, three times, four times, it means there is something wrong in our side. So this is why we are working to find the best solution, to improve as a team.”
Spurs do look like a team on the up, having won all four games under Mauricio Pochettino’s management this season. Lloris has started all four and conceded just one goal. There is a new feeling at the club, which Lloris ascribes to a collective faith in the new manager’s approach.
“I am still young in my career and I have played a lot of games, and important games, so I have the faculty to switch from game to game,” said Lloris, 27 and captain of his country, France. “Collectively it is never easy to bounce back but this is why it’s important always to believe in yourself, your team-mates, your team, your club and the manager’s philosophy to always try to keep in a good level.”
If Tottenham have looked like a team short of direction in the last few years, that is not true now, with the squad visibly keen to embrace Pochettino’s understanding of the game. The new head coach has spoken at length of the importance of the players embracing his philosophy and style, and they certainly seem to be doing so.
“He has his philosophy of football and the most important thing is that everyone in the changing room believes in this philosophy,” Lloris said, enthusiastic about the new regime. “And it is important to keep the right spirit for the team. After that, there is no reason that things cannot be fine.”
Pochettino’s philosophy has been evident already this season, not least in the 4-0 destruction of Queen’s Park Rangers last Sunday. Spurs were fantastically fit, sharp and aggressive, pressing QPR high up the pitch, winning the ball back quickly and breaking with pace when they had it.
Some goalkeepers might just watch and admire, but Lloris – the best footballing keeper in the league – is an important part of how the whole team plays, showing for the ball and distributing it like a classy centre-back.
“I am more involved in the build-up,” Lloris explained. “I will touch the ball a lot with my feet. It is important to be involved for my team-mates on the pitch, for there to be movement and I try to find the best solution, the best pass. We know that from the goal-kick we try to keep the ball on the floor, and to not kick long ball for the opponent.”
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It has worked well so far, although Liverpool will provide a very different challenge tomorrow. In this fixture last December, Liverpool produced one of the performances of the season, shredding Spurs with their quick movement and winning 5-0. Andre Villas-Boas, the Tottenham manager, left the club the next day.
Liverpool celebrate after Luis Suarez scores against Tottenham last season
This year, Tottenham will have their own fast-moving front line and the evidence of Liverpool’s first two games suggests that Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren can be put under pressure. Liverpool, of course, do not have Luis Suarez any more and so the likelihood is a brisk, intense, tight match decided by whichever team is more ruthless in front of goal.
Lloris, then, who was powerless in most of the high-profile defeats last season, can hope for a different outcome tomorrow. He will not set targets for Spurs’ season quite yet, but taking Liverpool’s scalp would make very clear just how serious the Londoners’ challenge to the Premier League’s big guns might be.
“We are just at the beginning of the season,” Lloris said. “We need to keep working, keep the same spirit as we showed in the last few games, and to have confidence in the changing room. You need to win, win, win. This is what we expect for this season.”
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