Venue: Wembley Stadium, London
Liverpool travelled to London today to take on an in-form Spurs team with the irrepressible Harry Kane the focal point of their attack. Spurs have been going from strength-to-strength in recent years and with Mauricio Pochettino at the helm, they have one of the most impressive young coaches in the game today.
Liverpool, however, could come into the game with some level of confidence after their 7-0 win in Slovenia on Tuesday, coupled with the fact that they were also unbeaten in the last ten games against Spurs in all competitions.
Spurs lineup (3-4-2-1) – Lloris(c); Alderweireld, Sanchez, Vertonghen; Trippier, Eriksen, Winks, Aurier; Son, Alli; Kane
Subs: Vorm, Rose, Davies, Dier, Sissoko, Nkoudou, Llorente
Liverpool lineup (4-1-2-3) – Mignolet; Gomez, Matip, Lovren, Moreno; Henderson(c), Can, Milner; Salah, Firmino, Coutinho
Subs: Karius, Klavan, Alexander-Arnold, Grujic, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Solanke, Sturridge
Liverpool had an extra day of rest this week since Spurs had played in Madrid on Wednesday, a day after Liverpool’s 7-0 trouncing of Maribor. It didn’t seem to benefit the Reds in any way, however, as it only took Spurs and Harry Kane four minutes to open the scoring. A mix-up along the Liverpool defensive line had Lovren believing that Kane was in an offside position for the pass. Joe Gomez had just been a fraction behind with the step out, though. Harry Kane was viewed as onside and he reached the ball before the onrushing Mignolet. Kane took it to the left, around Mignolet and finished calmly past Matip and Lovren. Questions need to be asked about Mignolet’s decision to come out so early as well. 1-0 Spurs.
Eight minutes later and it was two. Liverpool had been on the offensive but when Lloris gathered the ball and released it early for the Spurs counter-attack we saw the horrifying sight of our centre-back, Dejan Lovren, completely misjudge the flight of the ball, miss his defensive header, and leave Harry Kane with acres of space ahead of him. Kane reacted perfectly. He kept a cool head to play an inch-perfect pass in front of the advancing Son. Son finished perfectly, first time, past the diving Mignolet. 2-0 Spurs.
Son could’ve had another just minutes later. Christian Eriksen was pulling the strings, as ever, from the midfield and his pass found Son who controlled the ball and tried a right-footed shot from a tight angle on the right. It beat Mignolet but bounced off the crossbar and went away from the goal. Brilliant effort from Son.
In the 25th minute, Liverpool gave themselves a glimmer of hope. Firmino and Coutinho combined to win the ball back from Harry Kane in midfield. Henderson then played a great ball, via a glance off of Dele Alli, into the path of Mo Salah. Salah finished past Lloris and in off the post. 2-1.
Then, Lovren was caught out again. Dele Alli found Son with a great ball. Son had ghosted behind Lovren with a diagonal run onto Dele Alli’s pass. This time Mignolet was able to save Son’s low shot.
Lovren was being targeted as a weak point by the Spurs attack and he was seriously struggling to cope out there. Klopp decided to act. Lovren was taken off on the half-hour mark. Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced Lovren. Liverpool then went with three at the back – Can, Gomez, and Matip. Milner went to right wing-back. Coutinho dropped back to midfield and Oxlade-Chamberlain took Coutinho’s place on the left of attack.
Emre Can was booked in the 47th minute for a foul on Dele Alli. From the resulting free-kick, Matip had a clumsy and weak header fall at the edge of the Liverpool box. Alli was there, unmarked, to finish past Mignolet. 3-1 to Spurs.
Half-time: Spurs 3 – 1 Liverpool
Liverpool tried to get themselves back in the game through the wide play of Salah and Oxlade-Chamberlain after the break. Lloris dealt well with some tricky crosses, however, and the Reds never really threatened too much.
Then it was as good as over after the 56th minute. Mignolet failed to claim a free-kick cross after advancing into the crowd. Vertonghen had his shot blocked on the line by Firmino but it rebounded to Kane he got his second of the day and it was 4-1 to Spurs.
Liverpool huffed and puffed for the rest of the game but could not reduce the deficit.
Coutinho had a left-footed shot from the edge of the box in the 67th minute. This was saved brilliantly by Lloris as he turned the ball up onto his crossbar.
Oxlade-Chamberlain and Salah continued to push and probe but besides some strikes from both of them, they never really had Pochettino worried.
Firmino was replaced by Sturridge in the 77th minute and Grujic came on for Emre Can in the 83rd minute.
Jurgen Klopp looked a dejected figure on the sidelines in the closing minutes. A -2 goal difference for Liverpool as they sit in 9th position in the Premier League.
Final Score: Spurs 4 – 1 Liverpool
xG stats by fivethirtyeight.com