Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Liverpool: 5 Talking Points, Premier League 2018-19
Sky seemed to be the limit for Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham Hotspur side when they annihilated Manchester United 3-0 at Old Trafford. In the very next fixture though, they were given a reality check on what complacency can do when Watford came back from behind to beat them 2-1 at Vicarage Road.
This definitely seems to be their year as far as Liverpool are concerned. Jurgen Klopp's men had thus far maintained a perfect record in this season which saw them atop the Premier League table. But this game was going to be their first real test of the season and also the beginning of a 7-game span that would see the Anfield outfit take on the likes of PSG, Chelsea (twice), Napoli and Manchester City too in a span of 3 weeks.
Needless to say, both teams needed a win at the Wembley tonight. Going by the flow of play, Liverpool deservingly opened the scoring through Georginio Wijnaldum in the 39th minute as his header saved by Michel Vorm was deemed to have crossed the line by the goal-line technology.
A take on from Sadio Mane early on in the second half saw Kieran Trippier reeling as the former's cross into the box was almost tapped into his own net by a stretching Jan Vertonghen. The Belgian's attempt ricocheted off the upright and fell kindly in the path of Roberto Firmino who did the rest.
Christian Eriksen's cross in injury time reached Erik Lamela at the far post after a few bounces who first chested the ball and then thumped in a sumptuous volley to open Spurs' account. Liverpool then saw out the remaining time to win the game 2-1.
Let us look at the five talking points from the game:
#1 Conservative and shaky start for Tottenham in the first half
After the jolt they received at the hands of Javi Gracia's Watford, it was imperative that Spurs would start the game against Liverpool in a conservative manner. Their risk-free outlook was very much visible when the North London side defended with numbers behind the ball in the early minutes of the game, the approach catalyzed by Sadio Mane's disallowed goal in the very first minute of the game.
But this didn't mean the chances didn't come for the Reds. Mohamed Salah and co. attacked with intent which exposed the back four of the home side quite often. Poor midfield shape and a string of misconstrued passes also helped Liverpool's cause. Eric Dier was spared the blushes after his poor back pass was pounced upon by a prying Salah but his attempt was fended off by stand-in goalkeeper Michel Vorm.
The Lilywhites gave a lot of respect to their opponent's counter-attacking skills and never committed wholly while going forward in the first half hour of the game. As a result, Harry Kane, Lucas Moura or Christian Eriksen were always found outnumbered in the attacking third of the pitch.
As a result, when the Spurs did commit numbers forward in the last 15 minutes of the game, they were always caught on the counter by the prancing trio of Mane, Firmino and Salah. Thankfully for Pochettino's side, the Liverpool attack was quite wasteful too. In the end though, Liverpool did finally score through Gini Wijnaldum.
Up till this point in the game, Tottenham had not tested Alisson properly yet and did not look convincing enough on defence. In a nutshell, Spurs were playing the catch-up game throughout the first half of this fixture. The same theme was followed in the second half as well to set up Liverpool's fifth win in as many games in the Premier League this season.