Caislin Boyle discusses the stark contrast between Liverpool and Spurs and how the Reds set themselves apart from the Lily Whites at Wembley on Saturday.
There was never any real danger of Liverpool losing at Wembley. There was never any real danger of Spurs winning. Our win told an important story in respect of pointed recruitment, squad depth and personnel consistency.
Yet to attribute Saturday’s win solely to the signings made this summer would be disingenuous to what was there before. Alisson wasn’t the reason we won, nor was Keïta. We won because we learned lessons from last season and because we exploited a Spurs team that was well below par.
So much has been said about our capitulation last season that we should comment equally upon our strength on Saturday. Only one of the defensive line from last season’s collapse took to the field at the weekend, and such is the difference between Joe Gomez at centre back that the back five felt entirely new. The back four in last season’s fixture allowed 6 shots on target; on Saturday only three.
Yes, we have the world’s most expensive centre-back – but ultimately this is still a back four otherwise comprised of an academy product and two players costing a combined £12 million (£3.5 million + £8.5 million).
The combination of necessary big spending and extensive coaching has made this defensive start possible. Make no mistake; the lack of the clean sheet is the only blemish on an otherwise near-impeccable defensive display. 2-1 flattered Spurs, and those Spurs fans who are honest enough with themselves will admit that.
Gomez made one error, where he played Lucas Moura too tight – the Brazilian didn’t score but I’m honest enough to concede our good fortune. Yet Gomez responded by making an excellent tackle to deny the same player just over 10 minutes later. That recovery wasn’t good fortune; it was ability, coupled with good coaching.
I struggled in the aftermath to think of our Man of the Match – nobody had to play at their optimum to brush Spurs aside. The performance was controlled in the right moments and unshackled in others, but once again we didn’t have to click into full gear. That’s a concern for the rest of the league.
Spurs did have injury (and form) concerns – yet it was incumbent upon us to make those concerns result in a return of zero points. We did that.
To put it honestly, both teams’ have a talisman, and neither played well. Salah, to his credit, was at least visible. Kane was anonymous. However, our new-found strength in depth meant that it didn’t matter for us.
It mattered for Spurs. Kane didn’t come to the fore, so neither did Spurs. Salah didn’t come to the fore, but other Liverpool players did. That is the difference, and that is what will set us apart from Spurs this season.
The gap is already 6 points, and the record remains untarnished. If a team can be defined by how it responds to setbacks, Liverpool can only be seen in positive terms.
It’s almost 11 months since we last set foot in Wembley, and our evolution since that day far exceeds what any reasonable person could’ve expected. Pleasant surprises are the best kind, and Liverpool continues to provide ample reason for
A tale of two clubs.