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The good, the bad and Mourinho’s nonsense – Debating Liverpool 2-1 Tottenham

Following Liverpool’s memorable 2-1 victory over Tottenham, three Reds supporters dissect a brilliant performance and mock Jose Mourinho in equal measure.

It was a huge night at Anfield, as second hosted first in the Premier League.

Liverpool were comfortably the best team throughout an enthralling contest, however, and they look the lead through Mohamed Salah‘s deflected effort.

Son Heung-min swiftly equalised after a slick counter-attack, though, and Spurs seemed to grow in confidence for a short period.

Having missed a couple of good chances, Liverpool made them pay, with Roberto Firmino heading home the winner in the dying moments.

The Reds went top of the table in the process, producing the kind of win that again shows why they remain title favourites this season.

Here, This Is Anfield’s Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) discusses the key aspects of Liverpool’s win with fellow writers Dan Clubbe (@dan_clubbe) and Owen Collins (@OGBCollins), as well as taking aim at a bitter post-match Mourinho.

 

The good…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 16, 2020: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp (L) celebrates with Curtis Jones at the final whistle during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

DAN: To begin with, Curtis Jones. He was outstanding, playing way beyond his years and running the attacking threat from the champions’ midfield at 19 years of age.

Scary talented, super confident.

Bobby! I’ve been never been so happy for another grown man as he ran towards the Kop – what a moment and fully deserved, as he was excellent all night.

Liverpool’s performance was relentless, with personnel almost immaterial. This side under Jurgen Klopp churn out almost the same performance week in week out, especially at Anfield.

I have to give a mention to Rhys Williams on debut, too. He had his moments where he looked nervous and perhaps could have stepped up for the Son goal, but overall he was fantastic alongside the sublime Fabinho.

OWEN: Let’s begin with the absolute best thing – that first half performance was 2,000 miles away from the first half performance at Craven Cottage.

I’m always wary when we go into a game expecting ‘a reaction’ because half the time that’s really not how it works, but last night we got exactly that – a team aware of the disappointment of the weekend, and firing on all cylinders to reassert exactly what that team are the reigning champions.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 16, 2020: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (L) celebrates after scoring the first goal with team-mate Curtis Jones during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It feels almost unfair to single anyone out, but I totally agree with Dan about Jones. He seemed to be everywhere. Wherever there was a pass that needed making or a chance picking out, Jones popped up and made himself crucial.

Covering across the whole of midfield, overlapping with Robbo on the left, keeping all seven Spurs defenders guessing every time he reached the edge of the box, the swaggering Scouser was Man of the Match, and what a match to be man of.

He’s a star for the here and now.

HENRY: I couldn’t have put it better myself with regards to Jones – the two lads have nailed it!

He was my Man of the Match, too, looking like he has played in this midfield for five or six years, and never appearing to be daunted by magnitude of the occasion.

Football fans love to go overboard about young players – I think I once inexplicably talked up Connor Randall quite a lot! – but Jones is the real deal.

Just a quick word of praise for the dominance of the all-round performance, too, as well as superb individual displays by Rhys Williams, Fabinho, Andy Robertson, Jordan Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum and Mo Salah.

Oh, and Bobby Firmino’s winner was my favourite Liverpool goal in ages, and the celebration was iconic.

 

The bad…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 16, 2020: Tottenham Hotspur's Steven Bergwijn (C) is challenged by Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold (L) and Mohamed Salah (R) during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

DAN: Sadio Mane looks devoid of any confidence, especially in front of goal. More missed chances and weak finishing – had he taken his opportunities, he could have had us out of sight.

Say it quietly, but Serge Aurier dominated him for almost 90 minutes.

There was also a slight lack of a cutting edge, with shots straight at the ‘keeper for the most part, which almost meant we came unstuck.

An unchanged XI without a single substitution – expect shocks in Saturday’s 12.30pm team selection.

OWEN: It was such a massive win that I feel a bit churlish for picking holes, but there were a few minor blemishes on an exceptional night.

I thought Trent was finding his feet again in the Spurs half, but wasn’t quite at the races defensively, letting Bergwijn past him a little too easily on a couple of occasions.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 16, 2020: Liverpool's Rhys Williams during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

While Williams had another excellent performance at the back generally, there were still moments when he was comfortably outstripped by Son, and not moving quite as fast as the length of his legs would suggest he should.

But as I say, I’m being quite unfair here, and it’s a minor quibble about another young player who has barely put a foot wrong since his debut.

One final grumble – ordinarily I’d have been racing round the living room when Bobby’s winner went in, but this season has conditioned me to wait a few minutes first, accompanied by a sense of inevitable dread. I’m still not convinced VAR got Son’s goal right, either, but thankfully it’s academic now.

HENRY: Haha, I’m completely with Owen about Firmino’s goal. I couldn’t quite celebrate it like a maniac because I saw Dier lying on the ground, and was waiting for some kind of controversy.

The worst thing about VAR is it takes away the raw emotion for supporters – I was obviously delighted about the goal, but it would be nice not to think about some bloke sat in a room near Heathrow ruining your night after a goal goes in.

I also agree with Dan about Mane – he just isn’t quite at it at the moment, and in his own childlike way, he is starting to look frustrated and is snatching at chances.

Aurier was brilliant up against him, though, in fairness.

 

And Mourinho’s nonsense…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 16, 2020: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp (L) and Tottenham Hotspur's manager José Mourinho at the final whistle during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

DAN: Mind games to detract from his side’s defeat, just like we have seen time and time again.

He tried it before the game with his ludicrous ‘no injury crisis’ claim to distract Klopp and engage the Liverpool boss in a war of words, and even attempted to do the same at the final whistle.

The man loves drama, especially when his team loses, and there’s nothing sweeter than putting him in his place to go clear at the top with a late winner, especially from a set-piece.

OWEN: I know that stewards are vigilant against people taking pyros into Anfield these days, so I’m not sure how The Special One smuggled in whatever he must’ve been smoking in order to conclude the better side lost.

Let’s face it, a point would’ve flattered Spurs, whose old six-at-the-back-and-counter-attack strategy might’ve once looked very intelligent.

When you come up against a marauding Liverpool side that can conjure chances out of thin air, however, manned by some of the best players in the league, Jose’s tactics just looked dated, drab and depressing. He’s too bitter to smile at the best of times, but we managed to wipe the petulant smirk right off his face.

His comments about Klopp on the touchline belied a mental fragility that is less siege-mentality mind games, more evidence that we’ve got into his head, and I genuinely wouldn’t be surprised to see Spurs start to wobble after this week.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 7, 2018: Manchester United's manager Jose Mourinho looks miserable before the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Manchester United FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ironic really, that on a night when we mourned a manager of exemplary grace and class, Mourinho came to Anfield and behaved like the very antithesis of the dignity that Gerard Houllier stood for.

Hopefully, we gave him something to smile about up there; we gave Jose something to whinge about, which is almost as satisfying.

HENRY: That’s a lovely tribute from Owen – that was a game that had all the drama of that memorable 2000/01 season under Houllier. He will be sorely missed.

And it’s so true that Mourinho couldn’t be further from the Frenchman when it comes to carrying himself with class and sportsmanship.

He is simply one of the worst losers you will ever see – he has never moved on from the school playground, when you were left seething in Biology class because of a dubious winning goal by your mate at lunchtime!

Like Dan says, getting one over on Mourinho is as sweet as it gets, especially when the winner comes from one of his beloved set-pieces.

His reaction after the game was just a way of trying to irritate Klopp, but our manager doesn’t fall for that nonsense and essentially laughed in his face instead.

Like Owen, I’m intrigued to how see how Mourinho and Spurs respond from this, because he/they could either bounce back emphatically or fall off a cliff.

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