A game regarded as the biggest of the Reds’ season so far lived up to its billing, as Liverpool and Tottenham produced a match of tight tactical warfare that was fascinating to watch.
In the end something had to give and the Reds snatched victory in the dying embers of the game, as Roberto Firmino firmly planted his third goal of the Premier League season into the top corner to spark wild celebrations on Merseyside.
Tottenham had forecast their approach to the game very early, which is what many expected, as they set up to keep the Reds out and catch them on the counter when the opportunity arose. Whilst Liverpool would dominate possession and try to break the down the Mourinho master plan in motion.
The Reds in the first period were sumptuous, dominating possession and nullifying any potential break that Spurs managed. The consistent pressure that was applied by Klopp’s side finally told after 25 minutes, as Curtis Jones was tackled just inside the area, the ball broke to Salah. His first-time strike was sent spiraling goal ward with Hugo Lloris scrambling across his area. Luckily for the Reds, the ball fell perfectly into the bottom corner of the Frenchman’s goal instigating a massive roar from the Kop.
It is what Liverpool deserved after the dominant start, but minutes later they were caught after a momentary lapse of concentration. Giovani Lo Celso broke away from Henderson, playing a perfectly weighted through ball to the inform Son Heung-min, who was clinical in dispatching the ball past the on rushing Alisson Becker. What Klopp had feared had come back to bite them just before the interval.
In the second period, the game seemed to kick up a notch with the game witnessing more chances from both sides. Chances for Steven Bergwijn and Harry Kane saw Tottenham come agonisingly close to taking the lead, whilst Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané were denied by Lloris and the bar respectively.
With the game looking like a forgone conclusion with both side taking a point, up stepped Roberto Firmino who pounced upon a free header, after beating Kane and Alderweireld, nodding past the motionless Hugo Lloris in the Tottenham net. It felt like a major moment, with both sides expected to be up there when the season gets to its conclusion in May, Liverpool had landed the first big blow.
Klopp will be thoroughly happy with his sides display after several impressive performances. Special mentions went out to Premier League debutant Rhys Wiliams and the excellent Curtis Jones. The academy graduates looked stellar throughout and just showed the depth that the Liverpool squad has.
Despite all of the injuries, the Reds find themselves top of the Premier League after 13 games which is an impressive feat. Now with a quick turnaround needed to get ready for the clash on Saturday lunchtime against Crystal Palace, Liverpool know they need three more points to take advantage of this major result against Tottenham.
Klopp made one change from the side who drew with Fulham on Sunday afternoon. With Joël Matip failing to recover from the back problem he suffered at Craven Cottage, Rhys Williams was thrown in for his Premier League debut to partner Fabinho in the heart of defence.
Here are my winners and losers from the game:
Curtis JonesEmbed from Getty Images
This young man is getting better and better every game he plays. His consistency is starting to come and his game management is now in line with the rest of the squad. He was the vocal point in midfield with the vast majority of play going through him to get to the front three. Watching him manipulate the Tottenham team to find an opening for a pass was an absorbing watch all evening.
His adaptability once again shone as he played in all three midfield positions, whilst taking up an attacking role alongside the front three during periods of the game. His work the other way was also brilliant, supporting Robertson and Alexander-Arnold in their defensive effort to halt counter attacks.
His major battle was with Pierre-Emile Højbjerg who looked to disrupt the teenager at any given opportunity. For the most part he was chasing shadows, as the Danish international struggled to engage fully as he never managed to get close enough. Jones worked cleverly though, taking up the previously mentioned positions all over the pitch to negate any tracking that the Tottenham centre midfielder tried to do.
His evening was capped with a first half assist for Salah, as his now signature mazey runs provided the opening for Liverpool to open their account. He didn’t get many chances to do this during the 90 minutes because of the way Klopp had the Reds set up, but when he did it was clearly effective.
It was another outstanding display from the 19-year-old who continues to develop and impress week on week. With a run of games now to his name, he feels comfortable in the side and this shows in his performances. He needs to continue this over the Christmas period so Oxlade-Chamberlain, Thiago and Keïta can be given the time to return when they are fully fit. Even then they will find it hard getting into the team whilst Jones is playing like this.
Roberto FirminoEmbed from Getty Images
At the start of the season a few fans started to doubt the Brazilian with his lack of goals being a cause of concern. After tonight he answered those whilst providing his best performance of the season in an all-action display in front of the adoring crowd.
His key attributes were all on show, proving why he is so imperative to this side now and moving forwards. Pressing from the front, taking up positions across the front three, linking play perfectly with his fellow forwards, filtering deeper to collect and take it forwards and all whilst doing the striker role you expect. He does so much a lot of people don’t even realise as a lot goes unnoticed.
Saying this, his display was more focused on his attacking mindset as the vast majority of the time he found himself in and around the Tottenham area. With Liverpool generally dominating possession, Firmino hardly had to track back and could focus on being the striker.
This paid off during the evening as he had multiple shots which were denied by a number of superb Lloris saves during the 90 minutes, but he made his telling contribution in stoppage time. With the game right on the edge, the 29-year-old evaded the attentions of Kane and Alderweireld to soar through the air and bullet a header perfectly into the top corner. His celebration to sprint the full length of the pitch to the fans showed what the goal meant to the team and him. Clearly, he knew about the early season murmurs about his from and answered them emphatically with this display.
This performance should dispel any doubts that anyone had about his quality and why he is in the team. He is arguably Liverpool’s most important player. He is the glue that puts this side together. Without him, this team cannot work to its efficient best.
Sadio ManéEmbed from Getty Images
A strange evening for the Senegal international who had good glimpses but was generally kept quiet by the superb Serge Aurier. The winger tried everything to get past the Ivory Coast international and succeeded on a handful of occasions, the main contribution when the forward struck the bar after turning the right back.
It was a contest that had people on the edge of their seat once they matched up during the game, with fans not knowing what to expect from every battle. However, the vast majority of the time Aurier came out on top, denying Mané any sort of fluidity that his game flourishes upon.
Generally, when not having a one-on-one with the Tottenham right back, the winger was pretty poor losing possession consistently as he misplaced passes and ran into dead ends that he could not make his way out of. This could be through a slight lack of confidence and pressure trying to make something happen as he hasn’t scored in a few games.
For me he shouldn’t be feeling any pressure. His goals will return to his game and he is just going through a spell were nothing is going his way. As soon as he gets one, I would expect several goals to follow quickly. Fans should not be worried as it is inevitable that he will return to form and the world-class standards he has set over the last few seasons.
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