Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Liverpool: 3 standout performers from tonight's big game | Premier League 2019-20
Liverpool picked up their 20th Premier League win of the 2019-20 season this evening by defeating Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 in their North London stadium. Jurgen Klopp’s Reds weren’t as outstanding as they have been at times during this campaign, but Roberto Firmino’s first-half goal proved to be the difference between the two sides. Jose Mourinho’s Spurs pushed hard for an equaliser in the second half – particularly in the latter minutes of the game, when both Son Heung Min and Giovani Lo Celso missed key chances – but Liverpool hung on to make it 61 points from 21 games.
Here are 3 key performers from tonight’s match.
1. Roberto Firmino
Liverpool’s front trio is as feared as any in the football world right now, and tonight it was the turn of Roberto Firmino to take centre stage as not only did his goal claim all three points for the Reds, but he also acted as the focal point of practically all of his side’s attacks.
The Brazilian’s goal was taken brilliantly; a Jordan Henderson header ricocheted to Mo Salah inside the Spurs box, and the Egyptian managed to find Firmino, but he still had a lot to do as his path to goal wasn’t clear at all. One quick touch, however, took him, past youngster, Japhet Tanganga, and a split-second later, the ball was in the net.
It was an amazing moment for Firmino, who could’ve scored earlier in the game had it not been for the timely intervention of Tanganga. The Brazilian forward was notably the most dangerous player on the field; he took 4 shots on goal, more than any other Liverpool player, and he also registered a pass success rate of 87%, with 34 accurate passes during the game.
When you’re facing Jurgen Klopp’s side right now it feels like if one of his front trio doesn’t get you, one of the other two will, and tonight, with Sadio Mane having a rare quiet match, Firmino came to the forefront and stepped up to the plate. It was telling that of the three, the Brazilian was the one who played the full 90 minutes.
All of Liverpool’s players performed excellently in the first half of tonight’s game, but in the second half, some of their defensive unit became a little sloppy and lost the ball on a number of occasions, providing Tottenham with some huge chances that were missed. One Reds man whose standards did not drop, though, was goalkeeper Alisson.
Did the Brazilian make any last-gasp, full-stretch saves? No, but that’s because he makes what should be tricky shots to save appear to be simple. Tonight, the Brazilian made just a handful of stops, and while his late save from Erik Lamela seemed to be textbook, a lesser goalkeeper may well have been caught unprepared by it.
And it’s not just about the saves with Alisson. Part of the reason why Liverpool’s defence often seem so relaxed – even in a big game like tonight’s – is because they have the Brazilian behind them. On a number of occasions tonight, Spurs sent long balls over the top of Liverpool’s defence, but while a regular keeper would wait to collect them, Alisson simply ran out of his box and sent an accurate pass to a teammate.
The proof is in the statistics; Tottenham’s goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga made 5 saves to Alisson’s 4, but when it came to passes, only 11 of Gazzaniga’s 23 passes were accurate compared to 20 of Alisson’s 27. That’s a huge advantage for his side when it comes to ball retention.
Much was made earlier in the season about the Brazilian’s importance to Liverpool’s cause when they continued to win games without him, but tonight proved once again that he’s basically irreplaceable.
#3 Japhet Tanganga
Tottenham’s best two players from an attacking standpoint were two substitutes; Erik Lamela and Giovani Lo Celso, and admittedly, Lucas Moura never stopped working hard even if a lot of his running didn’t come to anything. So strangely enough, you’d have to mark out young defender Japhet Tanganga as Jose Mourinho’s best performer tonight.
Chosen to make his first Premier League start, Tanganga could easily have wilted under the pressure of the situation, particularly as he was up against arguably the best attacking trio in world football right now. But the 20-year old actually stepped up remarkably well, and prevented Liverpool from taking an early lead when he blocked Roberto Firmino’s goal-bound shot.
It was expected that Tanganga would be deployed as part of a defensive trio alongside Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez, but for large portions of the game, he was practically playing at right-back instead; even then, the youngster kept his head.
The academy product ended the game with an 81% pass success rate, 100% of his aerial duels won, and 2 of his 3 attempted tackles completed successfully. He also made 8 clearances and 2 interceptions during the game.
Tanganga couldn’t help Spurs to win tonight’s game – or even claim a point – but he definitely proved that he belongs at the Premier League level, and Mourinho will likely not quibble about playing him again.