Liverpool 5—0: Riding the wave with Liverpool’s new Roberto Carlos

Adam Griffies (@whatahitsonlfc) responds to Sunday’s victory over Tottenham with glee as Liverpool go from strength to strength.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 15, 2013: Liverpool's Jon Flanagan celebrates scoring the third goal against Tottenham Hotspur during the Premiership match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Sunday was real. Everything that happened, did happen. And so, Liverpool are a win over Cardiff (and Arsenal not beating Chelsea) away from sitting at the top of the Premier League tree on Christmas Day for the first time since 2008. Monday morning has never felt so good.

Now seems like a good time to offer my own post-match viewpoint.

Normally I feel the need to pinpoint one observation from a game, often tactical, and magnify it, making relative points. But yesterday’s match spawned so many talking points, and it would be impossible to link them all in a flowing report. So I’m not going to.

And quite frankly, riding on the crest of 5-0-away-at-Spurs shaped wave, nobody cares.


Team Selection

I was relieved not to see a return to a back three, after it being strongly rumoured on Friday night, due to Spurs’ threat down the wings.

It seemed too obvious; Rodgers couldn’t be so naïve could he? No, I shouldn’t have doubted him. The subtle selection of a 4-3-3 system was the first of many touches of brilliance, from our manager and players, on the day.

Deploying three central midfielders – Lucas, Allen and Henderson – helped us, not just cope with, but overrun, Tottenham’s midfield: arguably the most physically imposing midfield in the Premier League.

Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson pressed tirelessly and intelligently, shielding Lucas, who controlled proceedings from a deeper position relatively competently.


Jordan Henderson

Henderson, almost comical in his energy and determination, was brilliant throughout. A clever flick to assist Luis Suarez’s opening goal, and a well taken volley soon after, was the catalyst for the 23-year-old to turn in his best performance in a red shirt since arriving at the club in 2011.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 15, 2013: Liverpool's Jordan Henderson in action against Tottenham Hotspur's Mossa Dembele during the Premiership match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

His 78 touches of the ball, the most of any player on the pitch, highlighted his constant involvement. Should he continue to develop at the rate he currently is, the £16m acquirement of Henderson 30 months ago by Kenny Dalglish, could prove to be a shrewd piece of business.


Joe Allen

Henderson’s partner in crime – Allen – grabbed less acclaim, but was possibly just as good. Whilst doing a similar job off the ball, pushing Spurs back with incessant pressing, Allen had less licence than his consort to join attacks.

Though he did roam forwards at times, he was noticeably selective of his runs and the more disciplined of the two.

Allen’s importance to us was portrayed by the fact he made eight tackles, twice the amount of anyother player on the pitch. Forget the Welsh Xavi; the Welsh Mascherano seems more fitting.


Absence of Steven Gerrard

All the talk pre-match had been about the absence of our captain Steven Gerrard. ‘How would Liverpool cope?’ gulped some fans and the majority of the cliché-stricken media.

The answer was, as I predicted in my match preview, incredibly well. Our midfield trio were more cohesive and fluid, and seemed to thrive under the heightened responsibility placed on their shoulders without their skipper being present.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not necessarily lobbying for Gerrard to be dropped; I’m just not convinced we are getting the best out of him, and more importantly, the team, in his current role.

And I’m far from on a limb with my opinion; the likes of @DaveHendrickTLW, @Kopology and @liverpooldeep have been relentlessly pounding the subject since the beginning of time. They are all worth a follow on Twitter by the way.


Luis Suarez

Next I’ll talk about Luis Suarez, because it’s incredibly hard not to. Strip your lack of surprise and the rest of the events from yesterday back, and you have two devilishly cunning, sublime finishes from the most lethal striker in world football at the moment.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 15, 2013: Liverpool's Luis Suarez celebrates scoring the fourth goal against Tottenham Hotspur during the Premiership match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

His goals per game ratio this season is 1.55, comfortably the best on the continent, and better than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s during each of their most prolific ever campaigns (1.22 and 1.09).

Just in case your jaw isn’t quite touching the floor yet, carry on reading. Suarez has 17 goals in 11 appearances in 2013/14, more than 10 Premier League teams have managed, despite him missing our first five games of the season. Ridiculous.


Taking Control

Another positive yesterday was our composure and increased control of proceedings when Spurs went down to 10 men.

Paulinho’s red card, at 2-0, didn’t automatically signal the end of the game; so often you see teams creep back into matches after getting a man sent off, largely because of their opposition’s complacency.

We kept the ball expertly, dragging the home side about the pitch, creating gaps to pick with simple through balls. Rodgers executed this plan brilliantly, replacing Lucas with Luis Alberto in the 79th minute.

At this stage, the game was tailor-made for the young Spanish creator, and fittingly he chipped a clever ball through to Suarez for our fourth goal: Alberto’s first Premier League assist.

There was also a substitute appearance for Victor Moses late on, which I liked. Although having failed to shine in a Liverpool shirt so far, the Nigerian clearly possesses talent, and I have a feeling Rodgers introduced him in an attempt to get him a goal and perhaps get a few fans on side.


Jon Flanagan / aka Roberto Carlos

Finally a mention for Roberto Carlos. I thought he performed admirably yesterday, as he has done since he’s returned to the side.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 15, 2013: Liverpool's Jon Flanagan celebrates scoring the third goal against Tottenham Hotspur during the Premiership match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Okay, he was passed once or twice by Aaron Lennon, but you can almost expect and accept that from a full-back with such attacking flair. After all, what a finish. Well played Roberto.

Not a bad day at the office was it?


Lifelong Liverpool fan and general football devotee. Big on the tactical side of the game. Keen writer. Forever sarcastic. Follow me on Twitter @whatahitsonlfc.
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  • Gano1

    It would be nice to go top now……. :-)

    • allaboutanfield

      If the Gunners draw with Chelsea and Liverpool winning over Cardiff it is highly possible. Lets hope the Gunners drop points. :) Its been a long time since I saw Liverpool in the top 4 of the BPL.

  • rubyrm

    I wish every day at the office was like this. I will get the paramedics off my payroll.

  • Rederik

    Not a bad day at the office at all, I like other,s have probably been a bit hard on Joe but I have to agree credit were credit is due he had a great match but at the end of the day it,s hard to pick out any individual from such a marvelous Liverpool performance, I thought Luis as captain was a master stroke by B.R and didn,t he pay B.R back, this is going to be my best Christmas in years.

  • Gazman

    Someone needs to take a cold shower.

  • Deevagaran Nair

    I think we need to remember he is only 20. Recklessness is part of youth. I think we need a little bit of recklessness just to keep the opposition on their toes. I personally think reckless abandon is what made Flanno run high up the pitch and score his goal on Sunday. But looking at it from a fan’s perspective, my heart does come up to my throat when he makes those lunging tackles.

  • mark

    good match for liverpool this sunday, next will be cardiff, i think the odds talk clear, find the best on

  • aks

    u failed to appreciate Sterling. he was phenomenal in first half .. missed chances but he got credit in the end ..

    • JonnyS

      naughton is a terrible left back though and when he was replaced, Sterling was far far less effective.

  • gora-gora-xabi-alonso

    Good article. It really is just one those to sit back and enjoy for the week and not look too far ahead. WHL is one those grounds were it never seems to click, shots go agonisingly wide etc etc and Spurs players always seem to save their seasons best just for us. So Sunday was all the sweeter.

  • Goh Jun Ling

    I actually find that the young stevie was more reckless than Flanno now. Flanno was sometime technically short of getting the tackle in time, young stevie attempt dangerous tackle such as those from behind and side. Like said, a youth that attempt, is always better than a youth that play safe and out of troubles. I thought Flanno’s recent games shows a significant maturity from the last time we saw him during King Kenny’s reign. If you look at stats, he has a rather high success rate in duel and tackling and even air duel since reintroduced back into the team. I’m not so worry about him getting ban as compared to Enrique recover and we have to limit his game time as glen Johnson is almost a placeholder in the team (after all nobody place players with such high wages on bench). Flanno is at the age where it will decide whether he’s top team bound or exile to lower team, as we had witness many of our youth in the past.

  • FdotM

    Roberto Carlos?


    • JonnyS

      he meant Flanaginho!

  • Aris Pol

    The whole team had a good game…so no need to single out the players because lucas, sakho, sterling also had top games same thing when we lose its because the whole team level drops so no need to single out players for criticism as i have seen on this site…nice of you to hail out your buddies when things go well but i don’t see that when it doesn’t. Congrats to the team Allen and Hendo have shown good potential this game but the need to do it consistently to be worthy of top European football. Glad to know the team can produce at that level without the captain. Hendo needs to continue scoring if he can get 10 goals and 10 assists this season he will have come of age. Allen needs to be flawless in his role as he was this game it shows the managers faith in him and its its first decent run since a couple of injuries, for his game to click he has to have his team pressing together as they did it gives him the opportunity to work with movement also he seems he is tackling more which is great. I still wouldnt put the the performance down primarily down to these two or any one player only because it was a team effort when we press as a team it makes these two way more effective. The pressing in the games before against west ham and norwich was here again and we can see the results. The team seems to be fitter now that early in the season and the pressing is there to be seen. This i this is the primary factor in the performance the energy level and the speed of how we move the ball has increased around the team. Lets not get carried away also remember City hit spurs for six already this season so i do think this spurs side is more vulnerable than usual.

    • JonnyS

      we will be lucky to come away from the Citeh game with anything because they are so lethal on the counter. Aguero’s injury, while not something to be celebrated, is a huge boon for us but doesn’t remove the danger.

      It’s a shame we’ll be knackered for Chelski as they are very beatable. wish those 2 fixtures were the other way around.

      3pts from Cardiff is a must but have to take the game seriously.