Tottenham guilty of resting on their laurels and other talking points from Liverpool's 2-1 win

Aditya Devavrat 19:08 15/09/2018
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Maurico Pochettino

Liverpool outclassed Tottenham in a 2-1 away win on Saturday, with Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino getting the goals for the visitors in front of a subdued Wembley crowd, for whom Erik Lamela’s late strike was merely a consolation.

The result was a statement win for Jurgen Klopp’s men, whose title credentials are gaining weight with every passing victory as Liverpool made it five wins from five to start the season. For Tottenham, on the other hand, this was a disappointing second straight loss following their landmark 3-0 win over Manchester United last month.

Here are the talking points from Saturday’s game.

UNITED WIN LOOKS A LONG TIME AGO FOR SPURS

Mauricio Pochettino revealed ahead of this game that he saw his side get a little too relaxed after their momentous win over United. On this evidence Spurs still haven’t been able to shake the hangover from that result.

The international break no doubt had a part to play but it was shocking how little intensity there was about Tottenham on Saturday. They were sloppy, getting disturbed far too easily by the Liverpool press and struggling to string any passes together.

Despite ending the game with Harry Kane, Erik Lamela, Heung-min Son, Lucas Moura, and Christian Eriksen all on the pitch, they never looked threatening or incisive enough to cause Liverpool any problems.

Failing in big games away from home was the familiar knock against Tottenham. It’s a shame that after finally getting that right, they’re still leaving themselves open to criticisms of being soft by not being able to kick on from a good result when they are the hosts.

Tottenham have gotten complacent after beating Manchester United.

Tottenham have gotten complacent after beating Manchester United.

DEFENCE POINTING THE WAY FOR LIVERPOOL’S TITLE CHARGE

There may have been some skepticism during the summer when Liverpool were being anointed the likeliest challengers to Manchester City‘s crown, but no longer. This is the Reds’ best start to a season in nearly 20 years – the last time Liverpool won their first five games was in the 1990-91 season.

While it’s still too early to judge how this side measures up against City, there are signs something’s different about this Liverpool team. They’ve won five games without their talisman from last season, Mohamed Salah, looking like the all-conquering force he was in 2017-18; how much better will they be when he hits top form?

But what’s really impressive is the defence. Jurgen Klopp will be disappointed that his side couldn’t maintain a clean sheet, but the overall performance of his back line is no doubt leaving him pleased.

Tottenham barely had a sniff of goal, despite having five attackers on the pitch towards the end. There was no space in behind Liverpool’s defence, Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez were largely untroubled in the air, and Alisson barely had a save of note to make.

Liverpool’s attack may be heavy metal football but it’s the serenity of the defence which is their biggest source of encouragement.

The Van Dijk-Gomez axis has brought defensive solidity to Liverpool.

The Van Dijk-Gomez axis has brought defensive solidity to Liverpool.

TIME TO GIVE KANE A BREATHER?

This was the first time in three meetings between the pair that neither Kane nor Salah got on the scoresheet, with last season’s Tottenham-Liverpool’s clashes having seen goals from both in each fixture. In truth, neither looked like scoring, at least not until a late burst from Salah saw the Reds man test the home defence on occasion.

The Egyptian has looked a little ways below last season’s form so far this season, but with Liverpool maintaining a perfect record anyway they can afford their talisman to ease himself back into top form. Tottenham, on the other hand, may have something to worry about with Kane.

It seems clear that the Englishman is struggling with fatigue, having not gotten his full quota of rest after the World Cup. With a relatively friendly fixture list coming up following Tottenham’s Champions League date with Inter Milann in midweek, perhaps this is a good time for Pochettino to give his star striker a breather.

At the moment, Kane appears off-colour and Tottenham are looking disjointed as a result.

Harry Kane hasn't been at his best to start the season.

Harry Kane hasn’t been at his best to start the season.

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