Premier League - Liverpool held by Spurs on Suarez return

Mon, 06 Feb 21:56:00 2012

Liverpool missed out on the chance to move up to sixth in the Premier League table after they were held to a 0-0 draw by Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield.

2011-12 Premier League Tottenham Benoit Assou-Ekotto Liverpool Luis Suarez - 0

Not even the return of Luis Suarez was enough to stop the Reds sharing the points on their own turf for an eighth time in 12 league games this season.

The stalemate means that Liverpool remain in seventh place, where they are now one point behind Arsenal. Tottenham remain in third following their first goalless draw of the season, five points behind Manchester United and seven short of leaders Manchester City.

This match had been circled in the calendar for many weeks by Liverpool fans because it marked the return from suspension of Suarez. The Uruguay forward was eligible to play for the Reds for the first time since Boxing Day after he completed his eight-match suspension.

However, it looked for a time as though he would again be denied the right to play as a thick fog settled over Anfield which threatened to see the match postponed. Referee Michael Oliver ruled the game could go ahead, but the conditions on a wintry evening in England were enough to make Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp miss the game as his flight from London was cancelled.

Mercifully the fog lifted as kick-off approached, giving all of Anfield a better chance to catch a glimpse of Suarez on the bench and for a phalanx of photographers to snap England manager Fabio Capello in the stand.

Spurs came into this fixture with a host of key players missing, although they were least affected by their absentees at the back as Michael Dawson and Ledley King started together for the first time this season.

Dawson had the Anfield crowd on their feet in the opening five minutes when he felled Andy Carroll with a sliding tackle inside the box after a weighted pass from Steven Gerrard, but Oliver correctly saw that it was a fine challenge from the Spurs defender.

Last Tuesday saw Everton's match with Manchester City at Goodison Park stopped due to a man handcuffing himself to a goalpost, and less than a week later another match on Merseyside was halted by a pitch invader when a cat ran on to the field. The ash grey feline scampered across the turf and past a bemused Brad Friedel before a steward calmly gathered it up.

That intrusion proved to be the main talking point of a first half in which both sides passed the ball around well in midfield but were largely unable to trouble the opposition keeper.

Jay Spearing had one fearsome strike from range but the ball swerved wide and struck the stanchion behind the net. The Liverpool midfielder still awaits his first goal for the club.

Glen Johnson forced a save from Friedel's legs just before half-time, but there was little to separate the two teams at the break.

The home crowd were made to wait for Suarez to be introduced as neither side made a change at the break.

Martin Kelly stung the palms of Friedel from range near the hour mark, but the game was given a big lift when Suarez did eventually make his entrance on 66 minutes.

He appeared to have lost none of his livewire movement or cunning guile during his absence as he was immediately involved, though the more infamous side of his game also emerged soon enough as he earned a booking for a boot to the midriff of Scott Parker less than five minutes after coming on.

Another Liverpool booking soon afterwards went to Martin Skrtel when the Slovakian defender lunged in with a challenge that caught Gareth Bale on the shin. Other officials may have seen that incident differently.

Carroll fired over the bar when he should have at least tested Friedel before Suarez was the most striking example of a Liverpool player who failed to meet a good delivery with a dangerous header.

Bale - who had earlier earned a booking for an act of simulation - could have won the game for Spurs when he beat the offside trap with five minutes remaining. The Welshman was one-on-one with Pepe Reina but the decision to finish through the Spaniard's legs was the wrong call.

With Suarez back among their ranks Liverpool can have fresh cause for optimism, but the fact they had 15 shots against Spurs and were once again unable to find a winner will be of great cause for concern.

Tony Mabert - @tony_mabert / Eurosport

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