Four things we learned: Liverpool v. Tottenham

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LIVERPOOL — Jurgen Klopp‘s boys regained their six-point lead atop the Premier League table as they fought back from 1-0 down to beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at Anfield on Sunday, as the Reds are still unbeaten.

Harry Kane gave Tottenham the lead after 47 seconds to stun Anfield, and although Liverpool peppered the Spurs goal in the first half, Paulo Gazzaniga was in inspired form to stop Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Virgil Van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold. In a feisty encounter tempers often boiled over as the repeat of the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League final didn’t disappoint.

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At the start of the second half Spurs almost went 2-0 up as Heung-Min Son rounded Alisson but his shot clipped off the crossbar, and then Liverpool pinned Spurs back further. Gazzaniga twice denied Firmino at the near post but he could do nothing to deny Jordan Henderson who popped up at the back post to make it 1-1.

Georginio Wijnaldum then missed a glorious chance for Liverpool as the Reds piled on the pressure and Spurs occasionally threatened on the break. Serge Aurier then clipped Sadio Mane in the box to give away a penalty kick as Mohamed Salah scored the winner to extend Liverpool’s lead to second-place Man City to six points. Spurs went close through Danny Rose, Son and Kane late on, but Liverpool held on to stay unbeaten.

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Here’s a look at what we learned from a dramatic encounter at Anfield.


Man of the Match: Paulo Gazzaniga – Stepping in for the injured Hugo Lloris, the young Argentine goalkeeper was superb as he made a string of fine stops in the first half to keep Spurs ahead. He was confident in possession and when Spurs’ defense was all over the place ahead of him, Gazzaniga kept his cool. The man from Pochettino’s hometown of Murphy, Argentina stood tall on the big stage, even if he couldn’t help his team grab a point.


LIVERPOOL’S INCREDIBLE RUN CONTINUES

Liverpool last lost a Premier League game on January 3 and that is their only defeat in their last 49 games in the competition. They are unbeaten through the first 10 games of the season and they fought back to beat Spurs with another gritty, committed display. Klopp’s side have been far from their best for most of this season but they sit top of the table and the way they dug deep, stayed patient and beat Tottenham proved that they are confident they can go all the way this season. They just aren’t used to losing and like the draw at Man United last week, they never know when they’re beaten. Especially at home as they’ve now gone 45 games unbeaten at Anfield, with Klopp leading the chorus of chants and cheers in the stands with his fist pumps on the sidelines.


KANE PROVIDES CUTTING EDGE FOR SPURS’ MIXED FOUR

Harry Kane produced a fine finish to put Spurs ahead but their front four didn’t click on Sunday. Kane and Son were dangerous throughout but Dele Alli was anonymous and Christian Eriksen had a nightmare. Son hit the bar twice and Kane was a constant menace but Alli and Eriksen look so short in confidence and Pochettino was pulling his hair out on the sidelines over some of their decisions on the ball and with their defensive positioning. These four have only started four games together in 2019 and it showed. They will take some time to get back to their best as a fluid unit. If they ever do.


LOVREN PROVES DOUBTERS RIGHT

Joel Matip has now become indispensable to Liverpool. Dejan Lovren was preferred over Joe Gomez at center back and he had another shaky display as he was caught out on Tottenham’s goal to start a poor performance. From getting beaten for pace by Kane and Son, to taking too much time in possession, every time Lovren got on the ball there was a sharp intake of breath among the home fans at Anfield. Matip and Virgil van Dijk are Liverpool’s preferred center back partnership and Gomez should now start ahead of Lovren.


GAZZANIGA PAPERS OVER POCHETTINO’S PROBLEMS

As we mentioned earlier, Gazzaniga was sublime. But the back four in front of him made sure he had plenty of work to do. Aurier and Danny Rose had tough outings, with both full backs caught out on Liverpool’s two goals. Spurs have tinkered with back threes and fours in recent weeks and Pochettino’s men just don’t seem to be able to defend as a unit. In truth, they should have lost by three or four on Sunday and the scoreline was kind to them. Gazzaniga’s brilliance papered over the cracks. Spurs have so much room for improvement  and the top four seems a long way off, as things stand.