Liverpool overcame the Tottenham Hotspur hurdle in a comprehensive way as the Reds ran out 2-0 winners at Anfield to secure their first Premier League victory of 2017. And in doing so they effectively brought an end to Spurs' title hopes (if there were still any). This victory rekindled their own hopes of reaching the top four as the first league win of 2017 came in a stunning fashion.
Sadio Mane scored a quick-fire first-half brace and made sure Jurgen Klopp maintained his brilliant record against the 'top six'.
Liverpool made just one change by bringing in Georginio Wijnaldum for Emre Can whereas Spurs were unchanged from their win over Middlesbrough.
#1 Where was this swashbuckling Liverpool side last month?
Last night Liverpool played their best football in recent months as the Reds bounced back after a disappointing January. Fixture congestion coupled with the missing of key players took its toll had taken its toll on Klopp’s men. And on the night, it was evident what a proper full week rest can do for the German’s "pressing demons."
This was, in fact, the first time that Liverpool got a full week in preparation for a league game since Christmas.
The home side have already bowed out of both the cup competitions this season. And their title challenge had also faded away after dropping points against Swansea, Hull and Sunderland.
However, after their dismantling of Tottenham Hotspur, the Merseysiders can still be said to be one of the favourites to come second behind Chelsea this season. Though the manager will hope for the same level of pace and creativity against the sides lower down the table - the only teams that have caused a problem to Liverpool this season.
#2 Spurs don't have the squad depth to cover for injuries to key men
After a brilliant last few games, Spurs emerged as leaders of the chasing pack that would challenge Chelsea till the end for the Premier League crown. They were playing resolutely in a 3-4-2-1 formation with their defence being best in the league until now.
However, injuries to Danny Rose and Jan Vertonghen forced Pochettino to change the formation to a 4-2-3-1 with Ben Davies handling the left flank. The Welshman, though, had a torrid time against Sadio Mane, who had him for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Spurs’ ploy of playing a high line against a pacy side as Liverpool also flopped, leading to more trouble at the back
#3 Liverpool's top four hopes depend on Sadio Mane
Sadio Mane’s absence was the main reason for Liverpool's January derailment as the winger was with Senegal for national duty at AFCON. His pace and directness were missing for the Reds and it was this aspect that won the game for Liverpool against Tottenham Hotspur.
For the first goal, Mane beat Ben Davies for sheer pace while for the second, he was in the right place at the right time.
The winger has been in involved in 15 league goals for Liverpool this season and it is evident that Liverpool's top four hopes are banked on the directness and finishing skills of their prized Senegalese.
#4 Mauricio Pochettino's torrid record against the rest of the 'top six' continues
Since the Argentine's appointment in 2014, Spurs have won just one of their last 15 away games against the rest of the top six. It might be a mental block for the players to get overawed by the situation or the lack of proper tactics needed to emerge unscathed from the big games.
What can also be accounted for as a reason is that the Lilywhites do not have a star player in their line-up to bail them out at times. Whatever may the reason be, this is a trend that Pochettino must be aware of and need to improve on if Spurs want to stay in the reckoning.
#5 A stunning performance from the underrated Georginio Wijnaldum
The majority of the Liverpool fan base was ecstatic after seeing the name of Wijnaldum in the starting eleven as the man he replaced, Emre Can, has had a disappointing last few games for the Reds. Against Spurs, Wijnaldum was absolutely colossal in the midfield and showcased energy and creativity to carve out chances in the first half.
He assisted Sadio Mane for the first goal with a through ball on the half-volley which takes his tally to five assists for the season along with three goals.
He goes on about his work silently but is a crucial cog in Liverpool's wheels. Wijnaldum had an 89% passing accuracy against Spurs and will look to improve his goal tally in the coming games.