Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Graeme Souness all sat in the Sky Sports studio at White Hart Lane with smirks breaking through and praise gushing from their mouths. There were a lot of smiling scousers when the final whistle finally blew to draw the curtain down on what was a devastating show of Anfield intent.
There was only ever going to be one man opening the scoring at White Hart Lane that day: and that man was Luis Suárez. The Uruguayan tried to play a wonderful through ball in behind the Londoners’ defence but Dawson was there to slide the ball from danger – or so everyone thought. Henderson, having been denied a clear chance on goal by Dawson’s excellent slide, refused to give up on the loose ball and nipped in before Dawson could fully clear the ball. Henderson toed the ball to an onrushing Suárez who took a touch into Spurs’ box, skinned Walker and slotted low into Lloris’ right hand side. This was a goal that was fully deserved by Rodgers’ side – despite some very early, and temporary, Spurs pressure. It was also Suárez’s 16th of the season which took him beyond the entire Spurs total for this season.
Suárez was his usual busy self and Sterling had Naughton in all kinds of knots but Liverpool’s second took some time to arrive. The goal finally arrived through Jordan Henderson after a fantastic cross field pass from Sterling found Coutinho in acres of space on the left hand side, the Brazilian laid Henderson with a first time volleyed pass. Liverpool had two shots saved by Lloris before Henderson finally volleyed in to make the scoreline 2-0. In must be noted that Liverpool had already hit the bar through Coutinho and had chances saved from Suárez before this deserved second flew into the Spurs goal. Liverpool were playing their best football of the season inspired by the triumvirate of Lucas, Allen and Henderson – Tottenham could do nothing.
Half-time came at a time when Liverpool threatened to run riot and the momentum was temporarily slowed as Tottenham came out for the second half with a slightly renewed purpose. There was a similar amount of pressure exerted in those first ten second half minutes when you thought Liverpool might concede a goal but the impressive Sakho stood firm and Simon Mignolet had nothing to do all afternoon but pass the ball out of defence.
The Spurs pressure came and went and Liverpool were back on the front foot. Naughton was withdrawn for Fryers to give Sterling something else to turn inside out but the momentum couldn’t be stopped as Sakho clipped a post with a header which should have found the net from about four yards out. Liverpool continued to play with a freedom rarely seen on the road this season and it all got a bit too much for Paulinho. The Brazilian was already having one of those days when he decided to mule kick Suárez in the chest – needless to say, the midfielder received a deserved red card for his troubles, he’ll now miss the busy Christmas period. The game now looked completely beyond Tottenham – and it was with 75 minutes on the clock as Henderson’s nutmegged Walker with a backheel to find Suárez in acres of space inside the Spurs penalty area. The striker lofted one into the centre of the box where young Jon Flanagan was waiting to convert a delicious half volley into the top corner via the crossbar. A better finish you will not see from any of Liverpool’s attacking players this season.
Some Spurs fans had seen enough by this point and there were droves leaving well before the 80 minute mark as Liverpool threatened to inflict another heavy blow to AVB’s top four aspirations. The fans that stayed will have wished they’d left such was the domination showed by Liverpool in those final thirteen minutes. The fourth will please Liverpool supporters to no end as Luis Alberto secured his first assist of the season with a well placed through ball that Suárez took first time – lobbing Hugo Lloris who was caught way off his line. There was even time for a fifth before stoppage time as Suárez played in Sterling who topped a fantastic display by cooling slotting past Lloris’ left hand side.
All in all Liverpool were a much more cohesive outfit than Spurs on the day and were well worth their 5-0 win – it could have been higher. The Reds registered an astonishing twenty shots with ten finding the target. Stand out mentions have to go out to Henderson for his tireless running and unbelievable fitness as well as his goal and assist which set Liverpool on their way, Joe Allen for much of the same as Henderson and Suárez who continues to operate as one of the world’s stand-out performers. Sterling and Flanagan also played well considering their youth and both grabbed deserved goals after accomplished displays.
Man of the Match – Jordan Henderson