It wasn’t straightforward, but the Liverpool juggernaut rumbles on at the top of the Premier League.
Tottenham came to Anfield with a clear game-plan designed to suppress the hosts and Harry Kane’s header after just 47 seconds gave them the opportunity to implement it. But, as they keep doing, Liverpool found a way to win.
Their last four victories in the league have been by a single goal – a fact which is attributable to their stubbornness.
Against Spurs they created plenty of chances. They fired in 13 shots at Paolo Gazzaniga’s goal only to see the Argentine goalkeeper stop them.
Undeterred, they simply continued the siege until the pressure told. If Jordan Henderson was an unlikely source of the equaliser, Mohamed Salah from the penalty spot following a foul by Serge Aurier was a predictable method for the winner.
Liverpool’s most frequent route to goal came via their outstanding right-back, Trent Alexander-Arnold. Having your chief playmaker in defence is rare, but the 21-year-old’s remarkable range of passing makes it work.
With Son Heung-min tucking in to support Kane, Alexander-Arnold was afforded a lot of room and he set about making it count, making seven of Liverpool’s 16 key passes.
His right foot is a real weapon for Jurgen Klopp’s side because he can cross from any area, pick out team-mates from set pieces and spring attacks with accurate long balls or cross-field passes for Andy Robertson.
He might not have been directly involved in their goals, but Alexander-Arnold is Liverpool’s go-to guy.
If Liverpool’s right-back was their stand-out performer, Tottenham’s was their biggest weakness. Aurier is a mistake waiting to happen and while this wasn’t a calamity of seven-goal-Bayern-Munich-thrashing proportions, it was still damaging.
Put simply, the former Paris Saint-Germain defender is bad at defending. When Sadio Mane raced in behind him, Spurs fans held their breath. When he recovered the ball they exhaled, believing the danger to be gone.
But inexplicably Aurier lost his footing, spun to clear the ball and only succeeded in booting Mane. Salah’s penalty was confident and suddenly Spurs were forced to change their intentions.
Danny Rose skied an opening, but they were made to rue Son’s earlier missed chance after rounding Alisson.
Christian Eriksen was given a surprise start in midfield ahead of Tanguy Ndombele, who was excellent in the midweek 5-0 win over Red Star Belgrade.
The Dane did not back up Mauricio Pochettino’s decision, completing just 16 passes over the entire game and creating no chances.
By contrast, Ndombele, who came off the bench in the 63rd minute, managed to fashion two openings.
If Eriksen is to get his dream move to Real Madrid at the end of the season, he needs to start performing when called upon.
Salah’s penalty to beat the impressive Gazzaniga saw him move onto 50 goals at Anfield for Liverpool, a feat which has come in just 58 games.
Mane was once again brilliant and Roberto Firmino’s hold-up play was important, but Salah remains the key man for Liverpool and their bid to win a first league title since 1990.
The Egyptian was forced off in the closing stages by an ankle injury, which Klopp later described as “not a massive issue”.
With Divock Origi a significant downgrade, Liverpool fans will be hoping Klopp’s initial assessment is correct.
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