A miserable afternoon at Wembley ended with a scoreline that flattered the Lilywhites, as Liverpool could easily have made it a thrashing in their favour.
Within one minute of kickoff, Liverpool had the ball in the back of the net, but the goal was given offside as Mane was deemed to be interfering with play after a slight flick on from Firmino. A tight call, but probably the right one from the linesman.
Some questionable early defending from Spurs meant that Liverpool were by far the dominant side in the first five minutes. But Tottenham grew into the game fairly quickly, and before long were creating some decent chances of their own.
With Salah perhaps not yet at the heights he reached last season, his first chance came as Eric Dier accidentally sent the Egyptian through on goal with an abysmal backwards pass, but Vorm was able to parry the shot relatively comfortably. An incredibly sloppy pass from the midfielder would not have pleased Pochettino in the slightest.
Throughout most of the first half both teams had spells of possession, however, the majority of the time the attacking nature of one side was counter-balanced by the defence of the other.
In the 39th minute, the Reds broke the deficit, courtesy of some indecisive defending by Spurs at yet another set piece, as well as the aid of goal-line technology. Liverpool’s corner was not properly dealt with by Vorm or Dier. As Wjinaldum headed towards goal, Vorm couldn’t prevent the ball from crossing the line. Defending set pieces is clearly something for the Lilywhites to work on.
As Spurs went into the break 1-0 down, a half-time change seemed like a sensible option from Pochettino, especially with Dier, Dembele and Winks making up part of a relatively defensive midfield, but the teams remained the same as they walked out of the tunnel for the second half.
Liverpool’s second came in the 53rd minute, as Mané crossed into the danger area. Vertonghen’s block ricocheted off the post, and Vorm did not grasp the ball as he perhaps should’ve done. The ball dribbled to Firmino who literally could not miss from about a metre out.
It would be unfair to say that Spurs were being overplayed at this point, since they were threatening as well, with Liverpool guilty of a few defensive slip-ups themselves throughout the match. But Tottenham lacked the clinical finish and were not really able to test Alisson.
It didn’t get any better for the home side, and Liverpool really should have put the game to bed half an hour before the final whistle.
Heung-Min Son entered the field of play about twenty minutes before full time; the South Korean returning from international duty after winning the Asian Games.
But this didn’t change the game in Tottenham’s favour. In fact, it seemed to make it worse. Liverpool were all over Spurs in the dying stages of the match, and Salah was determined to get himself a goal. He could’ve put a few past Vorm, but his finishing was not quite as precise as it was last year.
Lamela was able to bring a goal back in stoppage time, with three minutes to go. A corner sailed through the centre of the box and fell to the Argentine. He calmly blasted home from an improbable angle to set up a shaky end to the game for Liverpool.
Spurs were unable to find an equaliser however, and Liverpool ended the match top of the table, with five wins out of five.
Can Liverpool continue their perfect start?
The Reds have a very daunting lineup of matches coming up in the next few weeks, with Champions League and League Cup games recently being slotted into the fixture list. But with five Premier League wins now under their belt, confidence will not be a problem for Liverpool.
Chelsea, who also have had a stellar start to the season, face Liverpool later in September, both in the League Cup and the Premier League. This could be a defining fixture, and will allow us to begin to weigh up the title contenders.
As things stand, Liverpool look the favourites to win the league, and it’s all about keeping the momentum going for now.
The Return of the old Spurs
Those who have been a Tottenham fan for at least four years or so will remember the days when sloppy passes and panicky mistakes were somewhat of a common occurrence.
The arrival of Pochettino seemed to eradicate a lot of these errors, but today’s game brought back memories of the days before the Argentine took over.
Tottenham have been guilty of mistakes on a number occasions this season, and this is clearly an area of concern for the Lilywhites. Whether it is the renewed attitude from the manager, or simply the fatigue that comes with so many players’ involvements in the World Cup, it will need to improve if Tottenham want to compete with the top clubs in the league.
Man of the Match – James Milner
Once again, the Liverpool skipper put out a solid effort for his team and distributed the ball excellently throughout the match. Although not claiming an assist on the day, the Englishman once again showed real talent and composure to lead his team to the victory.