Liverpool scored their first Premier League goals in over a month in their 3-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Goals from Roberto Firmino, Trent Alexander Arnold, and Sadio Mane wrapped up a deserved win for the Reds and saw them move to fourth place, four points off the leader’s Manchester City.
From the outset, it was clear that the defending champions were in the mood to attack and they ought to have opened the scoring after just three minutes. Alexander Arnold — whose performance was easily his best of the campaign — found Firmino with a penetrative long pass. The Brazilian flicked it onto Mohamed Salah and the Egyptian played Mane in behind. Bearing down on Hugo Lloris, the Senegalese shanked his shot wide and Spurs escaped.
Heung Min Son almost made the Liverpool number 10 pay for his miss moments later when he swept a low, left-footed shot past Alisson Becker, but — upon a VAR consultation — the Korean was correctly flagged offside in the build-up and the score remained 0-0.
The Reds dusted themselves off and proceeded to dominate the half with Thiago — playing in a more advanced role, ahead of the anchoring Georginio Wijnaldum — a constant source of creative passing and a consistent option to receive the ball between the lines.
Mane spurned two more opportunities — one from a delicious Salah pass, although it would likely have been ruled out for offside and another when he shot straight at Lloris after being released on the right-hand side of the host’s box — but he made amends with an assist on the stroke of half time.
Jordan Henderson, who was coping admirably as a centre half beside Joel Matip, played a searching ball over the top and into the path of the Senegalese forward. With Serge Aurier asleep, Mane ghosted into the right-sided channel and fizzed a low, left-footed cross the face of goal for Firmino to tap in. The Anfield team were seconds away from their fifth consecutive half without a league goal, but instead, they went into the interval with a 1-0 lead.
Nat Phillips replaced Matip at half time, but the alteration did little to stymie the visitors’ flow when the second half started.
With their confidence up, Liverpool started the second half in a similar manner and had a goal only moments after the resumption. Mane wriggled his way into the box and fired a low shot at Lloris. The Frenchman proceeded to meekly push the shot away and Alexander Arnold — sensing the spill — then hammered the rebound low and through into the bottom corner for a thoroughly deserved goal that saw the Reds go 2-0 up.
Losing Harry Kane at half time to an injury, Jose Mourinho reacted with a double change, introducing Erik Lamela and Harry Winks for Kane and Aurier respectively. This sense of urgency was heightened by the concession of their second goal and they went in search of their first and they had it not long after the visitors second in an engrossing opening five minutes of the second period.
On the edge of the box, Pierre Emile Hojbjerg — Spurs’ best player on the night — hammered an unstoppable drive into the top corner that left Alisson helpless in the Liverpool goal.
Another team would have possibly been rattled by the concession of a goal, but not Liverpool. The visitors showed their champion pedigree and managed the rest of the half superbly, with James Milner especially showing his nous.
Looking solid at the back and in midfield, the Reds poured forward at will and thought they had their third when Salah smashed a shot into the top corner, right-hand corner after a sweeping counter-attack. However, VAR noticed a handball from Firmino in the build-up and the goal was disallowed, despite there being a legitimate argument that the Brazilian only handled because he was fouled from behind by Eric Dier.
Nevertheless, Liverpool continued to push on in search of a third goal and their ambition was rewarded when Alexander Arnold — comfortably the visitors’ man of the match — beautifully picked Mane out with an arched cross at the back post. Making no mistake this time, the forward hammered a left-footed shot high and past Lloris to make it 3-1.
The Reds saw out the remaining minutes comfortably and will hope this performance is a sign of things to come.
Liverpool team: Alisson; Alexander Arnold, Matip, Henderson, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Thiago, Milner; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Replacements: Origi for Mane, Phillips for Matip, Jones for Thiago.
Subs not used: R.Williams, N.Williams, Minamino, Kelleher, Shaqiri, Tsimikas, Oxlade Chamberlain.