0721 GMT January 19, 2020
They might take some shifting, too, judging by their superiority here against another of the teams who will switch to Champions League duty in the next few days. It was Liverpool’s fifth straight win, only the third time in its history it has started a top-division season so immaculately, and perhaps the most frightening thought for the teams playing catch-up is that Mohamed Salah has still not quite finding his most exhilarating form of last season, theguardian.com reported.
Not that Salah was too shabby during those long spells when Liverpool overwhelmed its opponents and, in the process, put down a marker at the start of a challenging run that will also see it take on Chelsea and Manchester City in the coming weeks. Once again, the front line of Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané, shimmered it with menace. Yet there is also growing evidence that Liverpool can no longer be considered a lopsided team.
The partnership between Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk is flourishing and until the final few minutes of stoppages, when the substitute Erik Lamela scored for Spurs, it was difficult to think of another period when Alisson, the away team’s goalkeeper, was in genuine danger.
It was certainly unusual to see Spurs being outplayed this way and a particular ordeal for Michel Vorm, deputizing for the injured Hugo Lloris in goal. Vorm’s frailties were exposed for both of the goals, scored by Georginio Wijnaldum and Firmino, and his mind seemed scrambled during parts of the second half. If anything, it was a surprise Liverpool restricted itself to no more goals, the only criticisms being that its final pass was often lacking and its finishing was not clinical enough. The final score hardly does justice to the gulf that existed between the sides.
Otherwise, the Premier League’s early pacesetter can reflect on a hugely satisfying day’s work against a Spurs side that has now lost successive fixtures in the top division for the first time since the closing stages of the 2015-16 season.
Lloris may have disgraced himself recently off the pitch but, if Vorm continues being this vulnerable, Spurs will long for its first-choice goalkeeper to return.
Harry Kane’s performance did little to shift the common perception that he could benefit from a rest and it was scarcely deserved when Lamela fired a low shot past Alisson in the 93rd minute.
Spurs might even have salvaged the most improbable draw, with Mané lucky not to concede a penalty in the final seconds. That, however, would have been a travesty and Mauricio Pochettino will also be acutely aware his team could have lost more heavily bearing in mind the number of chances Liverpool put together.
Klopp might also refer to the incident, inside the opening 40 seconds, when Milner swung over a cross from the right, Firmino flicked out his leg to send the ball into the far corner and the goal was disallowed for offside against Mane, who was presumably deemed to have been interfering with play.
When Liverpool did take the lead, in the 39th minute, Klopp could have been forgiven for thinking it was overdue given the balance of play.
Pochettino, in turn, must have been alarmed by how often his players were giving away the ball and even Christian Eriksen, such an elegant user of the ball, will have to take some culpability for the first goal bearing in mind it was his carelessness that gave away possession on the edge of the penalty area and led to the corner.
All the same, Vorm should have done much better when James Milner swung the corner into the six-yard area. Did Milner deliberately aim it so close to the stand-in goalkeeper? It felt that way and Vorm’s attempted punch, under pressure from the taller and stronger Virgil van Dijk, succeeded only in flicking the ball towards the back post.
Eric Dier could not get enough distance with his defensive header. Wijnaldum looped it goalward again and when Vorm clawed it away the goalkeeper was a foot behind the line. He might have got away with it in another era but the buzzer on Michael Oliver’s wrist was telling him it was a goal and Spurs recovered – or even, in a five-minute spell, look capable of saving itself.
In fairness to Vorm, he did spare his team, at 0-0, when Dier got a backward pass horribly wrong and left Salah with a run toward goal. That period of the game was also notable for Jan Vertonghen trying to chip Alisson from five yards inside the Liverpool half. It was nowhere near coming off and felt strangely symbolic of how his team had played.
Liverpool, in stark contrast, looked full of confidence, chasing down its opponents and benefiting from the almost implausible number of times Spurs lost the ball inside its own half.
Mané set up the second goal with a run down the left. Vertonghen turned the cross against his own post and Vorm was on the floor as the ball rolled back toward him.
He couldn’t readjust in time, the ball went through his hands and Firmino had a simple finish into an exposed net.