Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Liverpool Six Things: endless possibilities for The Reds

Jurgen Klopp looks relieved! – @SkySportsStatto

Liverpool strengthened their title credentials at Wembley as goals from Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino gave them a 2-1 win over a well below-parTottenham Hotspur side. Here’s our Six Things from the game.

Timid Tottenham

Mauricio Pochettino’s side looked uncomfortable. In possession, full-backs Kieran Trippier and Danny Rose pushed high which left Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen nervous of the away side’s counter-attacking threat. We then saw midfielders like Harry Winks and Christian Eriksen dropping into deep areas to fill the gaps, when they needed to be influencing the game in a more creative sense. When others like Mousa Dembele picked up the ball, their body posture revealed a temptation to play backwards and avoid risks, rather than open themselves up and look for positive passes.

Liverpool’s superiority

Liverpool were by far the better side due to the brilliant work they did without the ball; the intelligent James Milner was one of the best players on the pitch in the 16th season of professional football. Milner’s excellent left-wing corner was unconvincingly punched away by Michel Vorm, allowing Georginio Wijnaldum to head goalward, with the stopper unable to halt the ball from going over the line. Wijnaldum deserved his first away goal in English football; he did some excellent destructive work in his own half and, in recent years, he appears to have embraced a more circumspect role.

Moura’s two moments

If the game was going to turn away from Jurgen Klopp’s troops, it would have turned early in the second half; two lapses of concentration from young centre-back Joe Gomez presented Lucas Moura with two transitional openings. The first time though, the outstanding Virgil Van Dijk bailed out his partner and the second, Moura struck the near-post. That proved a defining moment, becauseĀ  Sadio Mane’s cutback prompted a moment of miscommunication between Vorm and Vertonghen, the latter’s attempted clearance hitting the post to give the tireless Firmino a tap-in.

Final third greed

That second goal should have been the prelude to a rampant finale for the Merseysiders, but questionable decision-making and perhaps even selfishness from Salah and Mane on numerous three-on-three breakaways meant they had to suffer a nervy finale. In injury-time, bright Spurs substitute Lamela halved the deficit with a sharp, tight-angled strike, but it was too late for the hosts to salvage a point.

Spurs in flux

There have been a lot of issues at Tottenham: the uncertainty over the stadium move, the failure to sign a senior player, the reported friction between Alderweireld and Pochettino and the situation with Hugo Lloris. With so many problems within their own club, it becomes difficult to win problems against others and that was reflected in their performance here. On paper a return of nine points from five seems reasonable considering the opposition faced, but there have been imperfections in their performances. An awkward campaign may lie ahead.

Endless possibilities for The Reds

Liverpool’s front-three have proved time and again that, on their day, they have the wherewithal annihilate disorganized opponents. That didn’t quite happen here, but the fact they were largely comfortable away to a fellow top six side, without being at their best, is a scary indication of the potential of this Reds side. If this is what they can do when arguably below-par, what might they achieve when they bring out the A-game?