FULL TIME AT ANFIELD: LIVERPOOL RE-DISCOVER EARLY SEASON FORM AS THEY DISPATCH SPURS AT ANFIELD
Another win to keep our unbeaten streak against top six opposition in tact was highly applauded by all and sundry at the Kop leaving only the most cynical of cynics thinking about how our campaign would proceed henceforth seeing as our next 20-something matches in this EPL will certainly not all be against top six opponents that would get us on our toes with our Sherlock Holmes hats on figuring out in lightning quick speeds how to win effectively and succeeding at it.
A very cynical thought here – Klopp was brought on to exorcise the vile spirits that have made Anfield their home, you know them inconsistent defending, losing to bottom tier sides in the leagues while turning up against the top teams, and slippy. So far in my view he hasn’t done that and I don’t say this because a loss against Tottenham would have signaled our team being on the right track but looking back at our performances, especially in the last 30 days, and while most would have pointed at the breakup of our leading quartet of SadioMané, Firmino, Coutinho, and Lallana during the start of the year, they were in our last match against Hull City and their attacking top performance visibly absent but it seemed the cohesion upfront and robustness in the back got a new lease of life as the lads got Red Rain going from the off with Mané looking unplayable at times.
Liverpool looked like a team with a hit list in hand and Spurs next in line as the lads got the ball rolling fast and early and would have scored before Mané’s first had not Coutinho’s glorious goalbound shot not clipped the heel of Alderweireld. Tottenham tried to implement a variant of Burnley’ssmartbusas they looked to maintain a high defensive line but unfortunately generics aren’t cure-alls especially against this Liverpool side on a mission as the lads found holes and they took full advantage of it as Wijnaldum, after a Spurs’ turnover, slipped the ball through finding Mané racing into an almost empty Spurs half. Our man from Senegal held off the last slivers of Tottenham’s defense leaving only Hugo Lloris to beat which he did despite losing his footing as he sought to get his shot off, didn’t prevent the outcome though as he registered his early goal calming Kop minds.
Gladly Mané wasn’t quite done with Tottenham, who had earlier bluffed his wage fees in the summer transfer market saying his demands were too lofty, which seemed to spur our man on today as he upped the ante in little over a minute after scoring, preying on Eric Dier’s slow reactions while on the ball and got caught in possession with Mané racing away with the ball before sliding it to Lallana whose rifled shot got stopped by Lloris, but the ball fell kindly to Firmino who tested the Spurs goal on the rebound with another cracker but was again denied by Lloris only for the ball to bobble back to Mané who made no mistake with his volley with only a defender to beat in goal as he got Liverpool’s second of the evening in stunning style.
Dier did make some amends by getting across to stop Mané’s run past Spurs’ 18yd line, doing just enough to prevent his hattrick as his decent effort ended up hitting the side-netting.
Son Heung-min drew a remarkable save from Mignolet before the halftime break as Spurs looked to get the comeback going but Harry Kane and Dele Alli were not featuring in many Spurs attacks as the visiting fans would have liked, such was the intensity of Red Rain.
Liverpool ended the half as they had started it, crowding all around the Spurs box but couldn’t get another goal from their forays into the box nor from the resulting corners.
With the second half in full swing, the Reds got to starve the visitors of the ball inside the area and though it was fun to watch, a little more directness and a 3rd goal would have been the icing to make the win beyond doubt.
The closest Pocchentino’s men came to mounting a comeback as the half went on was when Harry Kane struck the bar from an offside position as the Reds kept their efforts few and very much far between.
The Reds were unable to add another goal but ended the match convincingly seizing all three points leaving us just a point from securing second place with Spurs and Arsenal both on 50 points.
Mignolet (7); Milner (6.5), Lucas Leiva (6), Matip (6.5), Clyne (7); Wijnaldum (7.5), Henderson (6.8), Lallana (6.5); Coutinho (7), Firmino (6.6), Mané (8.0).