After a run of five games without a win in the league with only one goal scored in those games, Liverpool has done the double over Mourinho’s Spurs side in an emphatic performance at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Goals from Roberto Firmino, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Sadio Mané assisted in ending the Reds’ rough spell as they aim to reignite their title retention campaign.
Injury news, once again, did not make pleasant reading for Kopites going into this fixture. Fabinho has been acting as a makeshift centre-back for Liverpool for several months now due to the long-term absences to Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez, and now is due to spend an amount of time on the treatment table with a ‘minor muscle injury’.
Joël Matip boosted the numbers in their ranks, starting the game against Spurs, but it was up to Jordan Henderson to step into the centre-back position – not for the first time this season.
The mood has been mixed on Merseyside because of the drop in form from Klopp’s side but Mané wished to make an almost immediate change in impression as in the 2nd minute Alexander-Arnold launched forward to the Senegalese forward, heading the ball back to Salah for the one-two pass that put Liverpool’s number 10 behind Aurier and with only Lloris to beat the shot ended up wayward and into the stands.
A wasteful effort at one end and relief at the other as only another 2 minutes later another one-two, this time the combination of Kane and Son working in harmony, set the South-Korean striker for the North-Londoners against Alisson and with his weaker left foot strike hitting the back of the net.
It was not meant to be, however, Tanguy Ndombele’s pass in the leadup to the goal had Son only a fraction offside. Harsh for Spurs to take and a let-off for Liverpool.
Concerns were raised from Tottenham’s bench when Harry Kane went to the ground awkwardly in the 13th minute under a challenge from Thiago. Though no malice was involved, Kane walked away hobbling pointing towards his ankle.
Loose play at the back from the visitors in the 21st minute and a burst of pace from Son paved way for another one-on-one against the keeper but this time the shot never makes the corner of the net and is saved comfortably – straight down Alisson’s throat.
This game played out in the first half like a traditional cup tie as attacks were replied at a constant rate as another two minutes later went by when tricky play outside the box from Henderson and Firmino left space open for Salah so he could, once again, play a one-two pass with Mané who on his now stronger right foot stretched for the ball and connected well but only for Lloris to make a fairly straightforward stop.
Mané caused another parry from the French national side and Tottenham Hotspur captain in the 41st minute as Firmino’s through ball was threaded to perfection but under the pressure of Aurier, the shot had the necessary power but not enough direction to grab the opener.
Spurs’ defence provided resilience until the penultimate minute of injury time as Henderson stepped out of the backline to lift a ball into Mané’s path on the left side of Lloris’ penalty area. The chest down to control and the pass into the six-yard box was slick and precise enough for Firmino to step in to put the ball into the empty net for Liverpool to take the lead in an away game in the league for the first time since 19th December.
Half time: Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Liverpool
Casualties and, therefore, reinforcements from the substitutes bench came at half time for both teams. Harry Kane has been reported to have issues with his ankle ligaments in the first half, the exact injury reported for Joël Matip.
Both players could understandably not play on and are massive misses for both teams going forward, but one loss was more noticeable than the other in this game’s context.
Liverpool wished to proceed where they left off in the first half as just a minute after the restart Mané found himself in space just inside of the Spurs’ box and let fly a low curling shot that almost outfoxed Lloris. The parry was strong from the keeper but straight into the path of Alexander-Arnold whose volley was strong into the bottom corner of the net.
So early into the second half, it was clear there was going to be a response from the home team, but it only took another 2 minutes for Pierre-Emile Højbjerg to strike long from just outside Alisson’s box in a thunderclap shot that found the back of the net and gave Spurs the chance of getting back into the game.
Without their star striker though Mourinho’s team looked depleted in ideas going forward. Instead, it was Liverpool in the ascendency and in the 59th minute it looked as if the game was almost wrapped up as Firmino battled with Dier and passed to Thiago who spread the play to Mané and with the Spurs’ defenders flooding back the ball to Salah on the opposing wing was slick and with one touch to set up the shot and another on his superb left foot it looked like the Reds had their third of the game.
That was until the VAR official suggested to the referee, Martin Atkinson, that he should look at the pitchside monitor for a potential handball from Firmino. Whilst it is clear the Brazilian’s hand did touch the ball, a deliberate act of impeding the opponent is doubtful – nevertheless, the goal was ruled out.
It would not take long though for Liverpool to find a legitimate third when in the 65th minute Alexander-Arnold floated a sumptuous but ambitious cross into the box and when Rodon missed his connection on the ball and with Mané lurking behind it was the forward who would come out on top and struck with his left-footed shot into the roof of the net.
With minutes on the clock, it was possible for Tottenham to come back to get something from the game as Liverpool sat back and waited for a moment to potentially grab another goal, but no more chances came in the second half.
The game ended with Jürgen Klopp the victor and with some much-needed points of the board after such a barren run for the Reds, writing off the champions right now may be premature.
With another away game in the capital against West Ham United up next, back-to-back wins would for sure put Liverpool back in the conversation for the title.
Nevertheless, the performance in this fixture and the FA Cup exit against Manchester United shows signs of promise going forward – that Klopp’s Redmen are not going to give up this title without a good fight.
Full time: Tottenham Hotspur 1-3 Liverpool
Tottenham: Lloris (4), Aurier (4), Rodon (4), Dier (4), Doherty (4), Højbjerg (7), Ndombele (6), Bergwijn (4), Son (5), Kane (5).
Subs: Lamela (5), Winks (5), Bale (5).
Liverpool: Alisson (7), Alexander-Arnold (9), Matip (7), Henderson (8), Robertson (7), Milner (8), Thiago (7), Wijnaldum (7), Firmino (7), Salah (8), Mané (8).
Subs: Phillips (6), Jones (6), Origi (n/a).
Man of the match: Trent Alexander-Arnold.