Liverpool maintained their sheer brilliance with a 2-1 win over Tottenham at the National Stadium as Jurgen Klopp’s men showed emphatically that they’ve got what it takes to be the real deal this season. The victory in London means that Liverpool are currently having one of the best starts to a top-flight season thanks to their fifth consecutive win. Here in this tactical analysis, we will mainly talk about Liverpool’s performance and what we learned from the biggest game of the season so far.
An Unbeatable Midfield Trio
Liverpool midfielders simply flew high during Saturday’s clash against Tottenham. James Milner’s performance was phenomenal as he proved his consistency and solid performance once again. The tireless Englishman covered 12.9 kilometres – most in the game – and made life way too easier for his teammates with such an impressive display. He was one of the key players in Liverpool transitions and made great efforts throughout the game both in the attacking and defending situations. Wijnaldum, who managed to score his first away goal in the Premier League, was another Red who played one of the most industrious games of his career. He played in a deeper position but his efforts in the attacking third were also eye-catching. He managed to have a successful passes ratio of 89.7% – which is the best in the game – and he was quite helpful in shaping the Liverpool attacks with his vision and technique. Naby Keita was a slow starter and a bit lost at the beginning and couldn’t quite find the spaces to carry the ball forward with extraordinary runs. He was way too better in the second half, though, and made some massive contribution to Liverpool attacks with his dynamism. The overall performance of the Liverpool midfield trio was simply stunning. They made the Spurs midfielders look so effortless and helpless, actually. They were able to dominate the midfield quite comfortably and as a result, the Spurs midfielders failed to match wits with them. That kind of a display from the Liverpool midfield trio was decisive and they certainly look unbeatable at this point.
Sadio Mane is the New Mo Salah
To many, Mo Salah – with only two goals to his name so far – has not been at his best since the start of the season. That can be open to question but there’s something important to think about before even starting to question Salah’s overall performance. Mo Salah has never been the main man in Liverpool attacks this season – as we were also able to see this quite clearly against Tottenham. Sadio Mane has been the first option in the attacking third so far with the help of Naby Keita’s thrilling runs and Andrew Robertson’s ceaseless efforts. This is not bad news, though. The fact that Mo Salah’s absence cost Liverpool a lot last season underlines that having other options and plans in shaping the attacks is very important and with the arrival of Naby Keita, who especially contributes a lot to Liverpool’s attacks from the left flank, there’s now a chance to use Sadio Mane more effectively. It was not a day to forget for the Egyptian, by the way. He accomplished three key passes and created some massive chances for his teammates. He himself could have scored a goal but he couldn’t get the passes he hoped for at some crucial points. Liverpool’s Egyptian King is just getting warmed up but, seemingly, they’ve got plenty of decent plans.
A very different Liverpool
The Reds managed to come out on top against Pochettino’s Tottenham at Wembley where they had been defeated 4-1 last season. Liverpool players had been prone to individual mistakes and lacked mental strength last time out but they were really different against Tottenham on Saturday. They were able to force Tottenham players to make mistakes in setting up the play with a fine pressing and it made it possible for Liverpool to have great opportunities in the final third. Although Tottenham managed to pull one back, Liverpool never made me feel that there could be an equaliser. Their new partnership in defence, Virgil van Dijk the leader and Joe Gomez, has also become key to Liverpool’s defensive performance so far and this affects their confidence in a very positive way to a great deal. They’ve got an impressive winning mentality now and this will be crucial in their title chase this season.