Liverpool came back from a goal down to claim three points in a stubborn display against Tottenham, maintaining their six-point lead at the top.
Liverpool 2-1 Tottenham
Premier League, Anfield
October 27, 2019
Goals: Henderson 52′, Salah pen 75′; Kane 1′
On a chilly afternoon in Anfield Liverpool were caught cold, collectively rooted to the spot as Harry Kane gave Spurs the lead after 46 seconds.
Jordan Henderson got stuck in midfield, as he would do for the rest of the first half, Georginio Wijnaldum was bypassed easily by Moussa Sissoko, Dejan Lovren stood in the area with his hands behind his back rather than closing down the shot, and Virgil van Dijk was slow to react as the ball rebounded off the bar.
Liverpool were sloppy, giving the ball away in the buildup from defence and in midfield.
As wakeup calls go, this was an early one. Liverpool eventually came good, testing Paulo Gazzaniga with a variety of shots in the first half, none of which found their way past the Argentine stopper.
But the second half was a different story…
All of the best teams refuse to believe they are beaten, and this Liverpool side is one such team.
It didn’t feel like they were a goal down as they dominated the first half after the opener, and went on to have 13 shots on target to Spurs’ four and 68 percent possession.
Gazzaniga kept Tottenham in the game, and even though the visitors were ahead at half-time it felt like they were lucky to be so.
At the back the high line is risky but it regularly caught the opposition offside, when one ball was played through in the second half of Spurs outfield players were in an offside position, such is the conviction of this Liverpool defensive line.
Points from losing positions are often the most difficult to get, but Liverpool have now conceded first in six league games since January, with a record of five wins, one draw and no defeats.
The Midfield Question
Both impressed in midweek against Genk but lost their places, perhaps predictably, to Henderson and Wijnaldum for this return to Premier League action.
It’s the only area of the team which doesn’t pick itself, or at least the two spots in front of Fabinho.
Wijnaldum was anonymous in the opening 45, while Henderson was lucky not to be subbed at half-time given his first-half display.
Luckily, Klopp left him on and he was able to score the equaliser.
Fabinho stood tall and was always on hand for a pass. He won four tackles, made three interceptions and also created great chances for Wijnaldum and Salah.
“The job of the No. 6 in modern football is incredibly important and the more offensive players there are around you, the more important it gets,” Klopp said in midweek.
This midfield was less attacking than the one which started in Genk, but he still had plenty to do, and also made plenty happen.
Salah and Mane When It Mattered
The speed of Mane, the strength of Mane, seeing off Serge Aurier down Liverpool’s left, and then the stubbornness in the box to make something from nothing after Aurier appeared to have gained control of the situation.
It was a penalty engineered by the Senegalese at a moment when Liverpool had been knocking on the door to find a winner
Winning a penalty is one thing, scoring it is another.
All of these goals feel important for Liverpool at the moment, whether they are rescuing a point against Man United or three against Spurs.
And the pressure was on Salah this time around as he stepped up in front of the Kop.
Gazzaniga thought the Egyptian would blast his shot down the middle, but instead, it nestled in the bottom left corner from the point of view of those watching in the Kop.
Next from North London
The next visitors from the capital arrive on Wednesday for a League Cup fourth round tie.
But they have been more effective in their midweek games and in the League Cup they regularly field a group of exciting young players and reserves who will have something to prove.
The same could be said of Liverpool, who will also rotate their lineup and introduce a number of young players as they did in the previous round.
After that comes a trip to Aston Villa, and hopefully Salah will have returned to full fitness having been withdrawn late on due to an ankle complaint.