We’re at it again! Though the scoreline was not quite as emphatic as in the equivalent fixture last season, Liverpool once again totally dominated Tottenham in their own back yard. You wouldn’t have known Spurs were the home side- both the assured performance of the Reds and the noise the fans were making was more reminiscent of an Anfield fixture. From start to finish Liverpool were the better side, and they were rewarded with a comfortable victory.
Right from the off it was clear that Liverpool were in the mood. They came out with much more positivity than they showed against Southampton and City, closing Spurs down and limiting their time on the ball from the very start. They capitalised on the bright opening after just 8 minutes; Sturridge showed some nice skill before passing it to Henderson, who picked out Sterling with deadly accuracy. Sterling finished coolly, slotting it in at the near post. Our only real negative from this game- the shaky centre-back pairing of Lovren and Sakho- was highlighted just moments later. Both went for the same ball and Adebayor got clean through, but his lobbed effort looped over the bar.
From this point onwards, Tottenham never really got a look in. Despite having large spells of possession they never looked like doing much with it. In contrast, Liverpool looked dangerous whenever they got hold of the ball, partly thanks to new signing Mario Balotelli. His movement along the front line, combined with that of Sturridge and Sterling, made for a fluid, lethal attack that Spurs struggled to contain. Indeed, Balotelli could have scored two or three in the first half- the Italian, undoubtedly due to over-eagerness to get off the mark for his new club, was uncharacteristically wasteful. Overall though, he definitely had a positive effect on the team. Sterling in the number 10 role behind Balotelli and Sturridge is an amazing trio; although we sold one of the best strikers in the world this summer, we still have the league’s best attack! The sides went in at 1-0, but Liverpool were clearly the team on top.
This trend continued into the second half. Far from coming out eager and determined, perhaps with plans to exploit the vulnerable heart of our defence, Spurs looked as clueless as ever, unable to produce anything that caused any bother to Liverpool. Predictably, it was the Reds who struck next, just four minutes into the second half. Eric Dier put an arm across Allen in the box, and though it was soft there’s no denying that it was a penalty. In typically clinical fashion, Gerrard stepped up and dispatched the spot kick. We didn’t have to wait too long for the third either- good as the first goal was, this was probably the pick of the bunch. Moreno robbed Townsend (who had only been on the pitch a few seconds) of the ball, before embarking on a marauding run up the length of the pitch. His electric pace got him past everyone, and he certainly didn’t panic when he got through on goal- he positively rifled it into the far corner. Moreno was judged harshly by many after his first game- it was, after all, his error that lead to the Jovetic opener- but he more than made up for it in this match. He was one of our best players, not only making excellent runs forward but also showing himself to be excellent defensively. Manquillo, too, looked very good- with a bit of luck, the two of them put in good enough performances to encourage Rodgers to keep Johnson well away from the first team.
Though they threatened to add a fourth, Liverpool couldn’t find another goal. Sterling came closest- he danced exquisitely through the entire Spurs defence, reminiscent of Lionel Messi, but completely scuffed his shot, rolling it tamely into the hands of Lloris. Spurs seemed to wake up a bit towards the end, and created a couple of openings- they had a strong case for a penalty when Adebayor had his shirt pulled by Lovren. As it was, it ended 3-0, and Liverpool can be immensely satisfied with their performance. They played like a team who can most definitely challenge for the title again this season, and considering the new signings have had only weeks (or, in Balotelli’s case, days) to settle in, that is high praise indeed. Not even injuries can hinder our push for the Premier League title too heavily this time around- our squad depth is excellent compared to the last campaign. Markovic, Can and Coutinho all had to content themselves with a place on the bench, whilst Lallana, reportedly back to full fitness, didn’t even make the squad!
The performance and the strength in numbers both make me look on the rest of the season with an extremely positive outlook. If we can keep playing like we did in this match, another push for the title is not only possible but probable. Last season was not a fluke. Exciting times lie ahead. The rebirth of Liverpool is only just beginning.