Tottenham Hotspur vs. Liverpool score: Premier League champions rediscover scoring form in impressive win
Goals from Roberto Firmino, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Sadio Mane earned Liverpool a 3-1 win at Tottenham
Liverpool ended their scoring troubles in emphatic fashion Thursday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with a 3-1 win over Spurs that took them back into the top four.
Jurgen Klopp's side had gone four Premier League games without a goal before their trip to north London and might have found themselves facing a tough task breaking down a defense-first Spurs side had Heung-min Son's early strike not been overruled by VAR. After 45 minutes of remorseless pressure from Liverpool their goal finally arrived, Sadio Mane darting in behind and crossing low for Roberto Firmino to end the goalless streak as it approached the eight-hour mark.
The levee had burst for Liverpool who had their second soon after the interval, a much-improved Trent Alexander-Arnold volleying home the rebound from Mane's shot. Moments later Spurs hopes were revived when Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg thumped home from outside the box, but the hosts were no more ambitious a goal down than they had been when the match was all square.
Liverpool were denied their third in the 56th minute when VAR overturned Mohamed Salah's goal for a handball by Firmino in the build-up, but Mane would secure the victory with a powerful effort after Alexander-Arnold found him in space in the box.
Here are some big takeaways from the match.
Mourinho's demands too much of defenders
For 45 minutes, Tottenham's five-man backline did all that Jose Mourinho could have asked of them. On occasion they bended but they buckled only rarely and when they did, Hugo Lloris was at his outstanding best, particularly with a superb left-handed block of Mane's low drive. That was the best chance but Liverpool had plenty -- why wouldn't they when Spurs were so incapable of getting out of their own half
So many of Tottenham's center-backs were exceptional in the first half, Joe Rodon in particular making a brilliant diving tackle on Mane to deny what seemed a prime goalscoring opportunity. That it was Ben Davies on hand to sweep up the aftermath typified everything that Spurs got right in the first half, one where Rodon was particularly excellent with four of his five duels won, four clearances and an interception.
The problem is that when you're inviting wave after wave of Liverpool pressure onto you, there is only so often you can get away with minor errors. Davies playing Mane onside was at best that and it was punished in ruthless fashion just before the interval.
That prompted a change in formation at halftime. It would take time for players to pick up their new roles and in those moments Liverpool pounced, Davies drawn to Salah but without a left wing-back outside him to pick up Alexander-Arnold, who was free to volley home the second after Lloris' poor parry of Mane's initial effort.
Credit should go to Liverpool's attackers for their ability to stretch the Spurs back three, Mane and Salah in particular varying their position, drifting infield on occasion before darting out to the flanks and challenging Davies and Rodon to either track them or leave their wing-backs doubled up on. But Mourinho, who was nothing but glowing about his opponents ahead of this game, should surely have known that his side could not assume the Reds' goal drought would continue. And as Hojbjerg brought life to the contest moments after Alexander-Arnold's goal, the Spurs manager might have wondered what could have been achieved with a bit more attacking impetus.
Firmino at his best makes Liverpool shine
Perhaps it is just something about Tottenham. Firmino's goal just before the interval was his fifth in his last six league meetings with Spurs. Considering the Brazilian has also scored more goals against Arsenal than any other opponent in his career it can only be assumed he has an issue with north London's metropolitan elite.
Whatever the reason for his joy against Spurs his improved form this evening seemed to be decisive in Liverpool's attacking improvement. With his positioning more fluid, his movement sharper and his fighting spirit far greater than it has seemed of late, the visiting attack was far more difficult to pin down.
This was nothing we had not seen from Firmino, his drifting runs into midfield opening up angles for Mane and Salah to attack before he darted into the box at the last moment to make crucial touches such as his goal to end the near eight-hour goal drought. Out of possession he was the pressing dynamo that makes him so popular with his managers, notably tracking Matt Doherty right to the edge of his own box.
What was different this time as opposed to recent weeks was the verve and energy with which the 29-year-old conducted himself. It proved to be infectious as Liverpool got their groove back.
Sadio Mane: Much like Firmino, there was a scintilla more of everything Mane does well tonight, his running that bit more direct and his finishing asking more of Lloris. RATING: 8
Heung-min Son: It's hard not to feel pity for a finisher of such real talent, not for the goal that VAR correctly denied but for the lack of service he was given following that early moment. One of the league's best finishers often only needs a half-chance but if Spurs cannot give him even that then he is going to find himself cutting a lonely furrow. RATING: 5
Premier League outlook
Liverpool returned to the top four with three points and are four points off Manchester City having played a game more. Spurs remain sixth and are now four off the team that vanquished them tonight, albeit with a game in hand.
Jose, are you reading the blog? It looks like Bale is being readied by the Spurs boss right now.
Spurs need to turn the tide against Liverpool in a big match. They have a player on the bench who knows exactly what that takes having done so in the Champions League final. And yet Gareth Bale is nowhere to be seen.
This has been a curious game from Thiago, and we should not be afraid to say that. He will surely come good but in this game he has perhaps not been at his expansive best, partly a function of a deeper role but also because he still seems to be familiarising himself with the particular rhythms of the English game. There have been moments - he was crucial in the build-up to Salah's disallowed goal - and there's no reason to not assume he won't get better quickly. But it still hasn't been the Thiago we hoped for tonight.
It's becoming very hard to read handballs at the moment, the ball bouncing off Dier's arm and onto Firmino's in the build-up to the goal. From there Thiago and Mane combine to tee up Salah but we're brought back for the handball far earlier in the play. Curious, but Spurs would have fumed if that goal had stood.
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