By Nathan Brennan- @NathanBrennan__
Goals from Gini Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino ensured that even a late Erik Lamela-inspired push from Spurs would not thwart a fifth win in a row that ensure that Liverpool have earned all-15 points available thus far in the Premier League.
As the Reds faced their biggest test so far this campaign ahead of our most important run of games so far, that could determine whether or not we are contenders for domestic competitions and the Champions League. A good start against Spurs at Wembley was essential if we wanted to seriously put our foot down and show the rest of the league what we are made of in this Premier League title challenge.
Some (*cough*, Ian Doyle) were trying to save themselves by leading us to believe that Jordan Henderson not starting is some kind of shock, but it wasn’t.
It was also nice to see Fabinho back involved in the squad as he impressed over the international break with Brazil at right-back, I am sure it won’t be too long until he is starting games as the regularity of games increases and squad depth is needed.
I thought the first-half was mostly in Spurs’ favour, as we played like we have in every game bar West Ham on the opening day this season, but that tempo picked up later in the first-half, which I thought of as unfortunate at the time. As, just as we begin to ease into the game, half-time was approaching, giving Spurs time to potentially rejuvenate and time also for us to fall off the pace in the second-half.
One of two things could have happened in the second period with the Reds leading 1-0 – either Klopp would inspire his men on to take the game to the hosts and increase the advantage, or his opposite number would encourage his Spurs side to claw their way back into the game.
Thankfully, it was the former that happened for most of the half, with the Reds taking less than 10 minutes to double the lead through a tap in from Firmino after great work on the left from Mané – shout-out to Michel Vorm for making it all possible by failing to prevent it getting to the feet of our Bobby.
There were a few scares along the way – most prominent when Lucas Moura should have scored after leaving Joe Gomez for dead but only found the near post – but Liverpool maintained control for most of the second half and it should really have been more than a two-goal lead.
Though as they say, a 2-0 lead is the most dangerous in football and, sure enough, Spurs wormed their way back into it with an injury time goal from substitute Erik Lamela, but in truth the Reds never really looked like surrendering their lead, and 15 points from as many available so far this season were confirmed.
Gini Wijnaldum – Coming into this game I thought it was an absolute travesty that Wijnaldum was chosen over Henderson, let alone Fabinho. His performances in away matches in the Premier League have been notably poor for whatever reason, but the Dutchman’s showing today was indicative if his superb form so far this season and getting his first away goal in 58 Premier League games will surely be a weight off his shoulders. We can now finally stop hearing commentators mention it every time he touches the ball, as if it actually matters.
Andy Robertson – It was a mixed performance from the otherwise consistent Scotsman today, a very poor first-half where he needed to constantly be covered positionally by Wijnaldum, but an improvement somewhat in the second-half as he began to find his feet in the game. Not one of his best games in a red shirt but definitely nothing to be concerned about. Not to forget the brilliant over-the-top ball he played to Mane which ultimately led to our second goal also.
Joe Gomez – Another stellar performance from the young centre-half today, despite nearly gifting two goals to Spurs, he had bailed us out with last-ditch challenges and blocks, and that more than enough made up for the occasional minor lapses in concentration.
Roberto Firmino & James Milner – The work rate from these two throughout the game was what won us this game. On a day where most of our midfield and forwards seem to let the game pass them by, Milner and Firmino put in maximum effort and whether it was silky touches and passes by Bobby or crunching tackles from Milner in the 95th minute, it all adds up and contributed hugely towards the win. It’s hard for me to decide between them but I’d have to say I’d give the MOTM to Firmino as he scores in back-to-back games for the first time this season.
Alisson 7/10 – Didn’t have much to do, and barring a few out of place passes, he had a solid game.
Trent 6.5/10 – Solid first-half, but had to be bailed out by Milner and Gomez several times in the second-half. But, not a bad performance by any means on the 19-year-old’s 50th game for his boyhood club.
Gomez 7/10 – A few lapses in concentration that luckily led to nothing, but other than that, a solid performance which gave many shows of dominant defending.
Van Dijk 7.5/10 – Just classic Virg. Looked at ease.
Robertson 5.5/10 – Really, really poor first-half positionally, but improved marginally in the second. Had to be helped too much by Wijnaldum.
Keita 6.5/10 – Could have had two opportunities to score today, but didn’t really do much, especially in the first-half.
Wijnaldum 7.5/10 – Didn’t set the game alight but did his job and got his first away goal in the Premier League. His covering of the often-errant Andy Robertson was key to Liverpool’s holding-on in the second half.
Milner 8/10 – World-class. Honestly, he gets better with age, every season, every week. Still can’t quite believe he was free.
Salah 6/10 – Greed got the better of Mo today as he looked frustrated at his lack of goals in the last few games.
Firmino 8.5/10 – His best performance so far this season and a fantastic show of skill and precision, my man of the match.
Mané 6/10 – Same issue as Salah today, greed got the better of him in many scenarios. Still got an assist, though.
Five wins from five is as much as we could possible have asked for at this stage, and we can look forward to the upcoming fixtures with confidence. The title challenge is certainly in full-flow at Liverpool, but there’s a long way to go yet this season.