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Tottenham Hotspur 0, Liverpool 3: First Thoughts

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Mario Balotelli made his debut as Liverpool struggled in the first half and cruised somewhat in the second for an excellent victory at White Hart Lane.

The main man.
The main man.
Jamie McDonald

liverpool blog fc sbn

Tottenham Hotspur 0
Liverpool 3 Sterling 8', Gerrard (pen) 49', Moreno 60'

  • Before the match, the Liverpool line-up and bench revealed the new era that surrounds the club. The bench looked full of options and quality with Coutinho dropping to the bench after two substandard performances against Southampton and Manchester City. That Adam Lallana, Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, Jon Flanagan, and Suso aren't available yet strong competition still exists is heartening.

  • Mario Balotelli nearly scored a debut goal in the opening few minutes with a header that was saved by Hugo Lloris and his rebound was cleared by some last-ditch defending by Spurs. Liverpool's quick start was rewarded by an opening goal by Raheem Sterling, his second of the season, after a flowing passing move on the right side with Jordan Henderson playing the ball across for his international colleague to score. Daniel Sturridge's trickery and weight of pass, Jordan Henderson's run and awareness, and Raheem Sterling's movement and first-time finish.

  • The next twenty minutes were characterised by some good opportunities for Liverpool to double their lead combined with some careless distribution from deeper positions. Both Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho looked uncomfortable, Gerrard wasn't finding his passing range as accurate as he'd like, and Liverpool's two central midfielders ahead of the captain lacked a touch of composure. Tottenham also gave the ball away at time and the broken flow to the game was the result of two managers committed to pressing the opposition higher up. The Pochettino Effect was certainly on display at White Hart Lane.

  • Jordan Henderson grew in influence in the first half and Sterling, Sturridge, and Balotelli looked dangerous. Sterling in particular did a good job of dropping deeper to press before breaking forward. Balotelli took interesting positions on the left hand side and although he lacked sharpness, he offered Liverpool an option that was lacking in the previous two league games. 

  • Lovren and Sakho seemed determined to help Spurs equalise with jittery moments but the partnership reached its nadir in the first half in the 42nd minute when they both went for the same ball to allow Mignolet to make another one of his super saves. Tottenham played very much in the way Liverpool have been accustomed to when facing Southampton under Pochettino and it is a lot of work for players in Liverpool's half when they're on the ball. Tottenham will rue some of their defensive organisation as Liverpool's runners weren't tracked effectively and wide positions seemed vulnerable to attack. Moreno and Manquillo were a stark contrast as both were solid, particularly Manquillo who was unruffled in some pressurised situations.

  • The first 15 minutes of the second half saw Liverpool triple their half-time advantage after a Steven Gerrard penalty and an absolutely stunning goal from Alberto Moreno that looked like one of those goals he scored from a few of his youtube highlights videos. Joe Allen won a soft penalty after some inexperienced defending from Eric Dier but the referee made the correct decision. Moreno ran the length of the left flank to finish precisely across the despairing Lloris. Sterling nearly scored a fourth around 70 minutes after a mazy dribble in Spurs' 18 yard box but wasn't confident enough with his left foot.

  • The energy brought by Lazar Marković and Emre Can on the hour mark revealed the difference in the two squads and that's what Liverpool have intelligently worked on in the transfer market. There is a manager who is trusted, a successful domestic campaign as a backdrop to increased investment, Champions League football, and a coherent footballing philosophy. There is quite the difference between the approach of the clubs in replacing a Spanish-bound star player.

  • Liverpool were happy to sit back in the closing ten minutes and Spurs had a late shout for a penalty on Adebayor but the biggest development was the appearance of José Enrique in a competitive game after a lengthy absence. Liverpool's defensive display was much improved in the second half with Lovren, Sakho, and Gerrard alert.

liverpool blog fc sbn

We'll be back shortly to take an in-depth look at everything that happened in today's game with the full recap. Until then, let us know your take on the ups and downs of the match in the comments, and if you haven't already, join the community on the Liverpool Offside, where we'll have full coverage and lively in-game discussion for every match this season.