Tottenham Hotspur 1-3 Liverpool: Winners and losers as fabulous Reds emphatically return to form

Plenty of positive performances across the board, as Klopp finally gets his team singing from the same sheet again with an inspired performance in North London on Thursday evening. OLIVER LAWRENSON picks out the Reds’ winners and losers from the game.

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Yes, you are seeing that correctly. Liverpool have won and scored three goals.

Joking aside, after the rotten run that the Reds have been on in recent weeks, this result felt even more important. With this the first of a tough fixture run that sees Klopp’s side play West Ham (A), Manchester City (H), Leicester City (A) and Everton (H) in the next four weeks, getting a result at White Hart Lane was imperative. They didn’t disappoint.

It was a sample of what Liverpool fans have come accustom to – before the bad run – over the last few years under Klopp, as they consistently maintained a high standard throughout the 90 minutes, which hardly ever wavered. They answered all the critics with a display of vigour and power which, dare I say it, could be a return to form.

Three points and to successfully do the double over a side who thumped Manchester City earlier in the season, is no mean feat. This, all while the side functioned with zero first team centre backs for the second 45 minutes, is a serious effort from the team. Several stars returned to some form of normality which aided this display, but the entire team will know that they come away from Tottenham with the expectation that this is what is required every game until the end of the season if they want silverware.


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Unfortunately, a Liverpool match wouldn’t be complete without another injury problem at the back. Fabinho was not in the matchday squad after he picked up a minor muscle injury in training during the week, whilst Joël Matip – once again – went off injured after 45 minutes with suspected ankle ligament damage potentially curtailing his season. With another significant injury to Liverpool’s rear guard, the club’s hierarchy will surely grant Klopp his wish of a new centre half by the end of the transfer window.

With Fabinho missing, Jordan Henderson once again slotted alongside Matip at the back, with the young duo of Williams and Phillips remaining on the side-lines. Knowing the potential fragility of the back four, the Reds made quick start with Sadio Mané missing a major chance after finding himself one-on-one with Hugo Lloris inside two minutes. However, the Senegal international would blaze his effort wide, with his body language visibly communicating that it could come back to bite them.

Many thought this was the case two minutes later, as Son Heung-min was perfectly released upon Alisson, clinically slotting the ball home thinking he had given his side the lead. Luckily for the Reds, after a lengthy VAR check he was adjudged to be offside, his heel being narrowly beyond Trent Alexander-Arnold. Upon the disallowing of the goal, Liverpool seemed to wake up and show more urgency throughout the remainder of the game.

Moments before half time, after a period of sustained pressure from Klopp’s side, they would take the lead. With seconds remaining Mané received the ball on the left-hand side, with space to work with. After gaining a yard, he perfectly judged a ball across the 6-yard area, as Roberto Firmino accepted the gift, tucking home comfortably.

This confidence boost would continue into the start of the second as a swift counter attack would spark a second goal within minutes, as Lloris was beaten by a ferocious Alexander-Arnold volley, after a questionable parry prior from the French World Cup winner to deny Mané’s strike.

Spurs were given a route back into the game moments later, as Pierre-Emile Højbjerg unleashed a ferocious rocket from the edge of the area to beat the despairing dive of Alisson. With the game once again on a knife edge, and Salah ridiculously having a goal ruled out after a Firmino handball earlier in the move, Liverpool killed the contest once and for all in the 65th minute.

The magnificent Alexander-Arnold with acres of space on the right, whipped in a sumptuous ball into the area, with Sadio Mané – after a somewhat difficult night before this moment – waiting to drill the ball home. The two-goal lead was nothing short of what Liverpool deserved as they continued to manage the remainder of the game, seeing it out with minimal fuss.

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As the final whistle went, a roar of joy from Jürgen Klopp truly showed what the result meant to his team. He will have heard the doubters and pundits thinking that the Reds were done for this season. This was the best way to answer these erratic quotes coming from all corners, silencing them until the next tough test in three days’ time.

With another venture to the capital this weekend, Klopp will want his side to produce something similar, if not better against an inform West Ham. With David Moyes’ side coming off several promising results – sitting only two points behind the Reds – the German won’t be taking anything for granted.

There were four changes from the side who lost 1-0 against Burnley a week prior. Fabinho (groin), Xherdan Shaqiri, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Divock Origi all dropped out with, Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah all returning to the starting line-up.

Here are my winners and losers from the game:

Winners

Trent Alexander-Arnold

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After his recent struggles, this is exactly the performance that was needed from the English right-back. He was back to his imperious best and for the most part was completely unplayable. To say he was the best player on the night is a slight understatement, as he was head and shoulders above anyone else.

In recent weeks he has been challenged on both sides of the ball, with his offensive work particularly taking a major dip, as deliveries and shots were completely wide of the mark. Against Tottenham, everything was back too normal and that is great news for him and the team, whilst this display sent a warning out to the rest of the Premier League.

It is no secret that the Reds heavily rely on their full backs for service going forwards, and within two minutes you could see glimpses that Alexander-Arnold was back on it, as he wrapped a fierce ball into the chest of Mané with perfect accuracy. He would continue to direct play all over the pitch as his confidence grew throughout the first half.

This confidence then was on full show in the second period as he produced a mesmeric display on par with his greatest in a Reds shirt. After coming out from the interval firing, the ball fell to the 22-year-old on the right side of the Tottenham area, after an untidy save from Lloris. With the ball bobbling perfectly to him, he struck the ball with serious venom as the ball flew into the bottom corner. A goal that was much deserved.

Even after the stunning Højbjerg goal out did his own flush strike, he responded with a sumptuous ball to Sadio Mané at the back post, as the winger viciously hammered home, ending the game as a contest.

When called upon in the final 20 minutes defensively, he was calm and composed, picking the right pass every time to see the Reds clear from trouble. Lamela truly had a half to forget, as he made no inroads upon his introduction at half-time, struggling against the Liverpool right-back and found himself quickly in Alexander-Arnold’s pocket.

It was a night to remember for the youngster, who will look to build upon this going into the rest of the season. He will have a major opportunity to gain more momentum when he comes up against Aaron Cresswell on Sunday afternoon, knowing the attacking nature of his play could supply him with more opportunities.

Roberto Firmino

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It seems every time that Liverpool come up against Tottenham, Roberto Firmino decides to put on a show and embarrass the opposition. After his match winning goal in the fixture at Anfield a couple of months prior, he produced a masterful display at White Hart Lane, with his shiny teeth displaying the happiness that he was playing with.

He made the interesting decision to drop back at the start of the game to receive the ball, seeing this as a weakness within the Tottenham side that he could exploit. This worked like a treat, as he was produced several eye-catching pieces of play, finding acres of space consistently and targeting the isolated pairing of Rodon and Dier.

After his impressive 45 minutes he would be rewarded with a goal in first half stoppage time, as Sadio Mané put the ball on a plate for the Brazilian to knock home from two yards out. When the striker has scored this season, they have generally been in important moments where Liverpool have needed someone to step up. This was no different here.

In the second half he continued to harass the Spurs backline, causing them to make erratic mistakes and give possession back to Klopp’s side. This work is what has adored him to Klopp and fans alike and this shouldn’t be taken for granted, as most strikers lack the capacity to do this despite not scoring bags of goals.

After the last game against Tottenham, he followed it with a brace against Crystal Palace before falling out of form again. Hopefully this can provide a greater platform for him to build upon and provide a greater amount of these performances for the remainder of the season.

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Gini Wijnaldum

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What a dominant performance in the middle of the park from the Dutch international. He was superb throughout, with his hold up play against Winks, Ndombele and Højbjerg on another level than we have seen this season from him. He was an absolute machine in the midfield, borderline unstoppable.

He was caught out initially for the disallowed Tottenham goal however, it clearly proved pivotal as from that moment he was outstanding. Battling for every ball and putting Liverpool on the front foot at every opportunity. At no point did he go backwards and his partnership with Thiago was particularly fruitful.

We also got to see the more attacking version of the Oranje international in the second half, as Thiago sat back in the six role, pushing Wijnaldum into that attacking supportive role. He looked extremely comfortable and continued to do his defensive duties to perfection, charging back every time without fail.

The midfielder has been an imperative and successful part of the trio for four years now, with his consistently impressive showings and reliability keys to his longevity in this starting line-up. With the introduction of Thiago, many thought he would be the midfielder to make way considering his contract situation. Instead, he has consolidated his place and become undroppable. If this is the last season at Anfield for Gini, he is going to be sorely missed based off performances such as this one.

Losers

Joël Matip

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Another injury and it looks major this time. With the news that he has damaged ankle ligaments, this should certainly launch the Reds into the transfer market and search out at least a short-term fix. This injury could signal the end of the 29-year-olds season, with a 2/3-month layoff likely.

He looked relatively comfortable during his time on the pitch, making all the right moves and passes, providing cover perfectly for when Henderson was beaten on a couple of occasions. Unfortunately, out of the blue, he was unable to make his way back out for the second half, as he was once again on the treatment table.

After the Champions League final of 2019, he was on top form and truly the sky was the limit for him. Since then, his consistent injuries have hampered his progression and especially this season, has caused a major crisis amongst the Liverpool rear guard.

Clearly the centre back is no longer dependable and Klopp will be looking to fix this situation in the summer. He will likely search for a long-term option which could be the pivotal signing the Reds need to take them to the next level. However, at this moment a quick fix for the second half of the season is desperately needed at Anfield.


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