Paul Stafford celebrates Liverpool’s return to form after weeks after abysmal displays.
Liverpool returned to their devastating high-press and high tempo best that they had displayed in 2016 as Sadio Manè’s return to form coincided with a scintillating Liverpool attack as the Reds overwhelmed Spurs like Lord Chelmsford’s forces at Isandlwana. Sadio Manè played a big part in that and was fully deserving of his ‘Man of the Match’ award.
Tottenham had no answer to Liverpool’s devastating attack in an overwhelming display that will put them temporarily above Manchester City in the top four on goal difference with the Sky Blues likely to beat Bournemouth tomorrow.
There was one major difference in Liverpool’s play last night. They did not play the ball out of the back as much as they normally do, opting to clear the ball from danger high up the pitch for the waiting Mané and Lallana to pounce on. This ensured that there were virtually no stupid mistakes at the back or giveaways in dangerous areas leading to goals. Even Simon Mignolet’s clearances went up the field via line drives instead of his customary high pop-up.
This was the Liverpool of old that the world saw in 2016! This was the team that struck fear into the hearts of the opposition! A fair question to be asked is: where was this team in January? It seems incredible how a few missing components could mire such a devastating team with momentum. For the Reds to beat an in-form Tottenham, considering the dire month they just endured, is a massive turn around. But the question now is can they do this against the so-called weaker teams that sit deep and rely on the counter?
Sadio Mané’s return against Hull saw him still suffering from the devastating effect of missing Senegal’s final spot-kick in their loss to a surprising Cameroon side during the quarterfinals of the AFCON Cup. Hopefully, this display will see Mané and the Reds push on from here, and Klopp figures out how to play against teams that sit deep, with two banks of four defending against them.
In assessing the individual displays of the players, there are only positives to take from the game as the Reds finally clicked, and will hopefully go on a run up the table from here. Sadio Mané buzzed around the opposing defence like an annoying gnat, pressing and intercepting the ball high up the pitch. Jordan Henderson was everywhere, putting his body on the line and defending like a soldier from the 24th foot at the battle of Rorke’s Drift! Even the much-maligned Lucas Leiva put in a fine display as he defended like a beast in the back line.
Wijnaldum replaced the out of form Emre Can which paid immediate dividends as he connected play between the defence and offence. Wijnaldum, coupled with the return of Mané, is what this side has been lacking recently for all the parts of the Liverpool machine to work. The only absentee being Dejan Lovren today, Liverpool trusted Lucas in his place, and he could have arguably challenged Mané for ‘Man of the Match,’ as he barely put a foot wrong during the Reds decisive victory. The only thing he was guilty of today was heading over the bar during a corner kick, however, he is not known for his goal scoring capabilities, only his clumsy and late tackles.
Tottenham didn’t know what hit them. It was a little reminiscent of Liverpool’s 2013/14 campaign. If Jürgen Klopp continues with not playing out of the back all the time, and adjusts his tactics accordingly against every different team and system, with any luck this team just might be in the Champions League come next season!