Liverpool highlighted their title credentials with a dominant 3-0 display over Tottenham; missing out last year, the Reds are looking to go one better this season even without the departed Luis Suarez. £16 million pound man Mario Balotelli started and looked impressive for Liverpool without his typical antics that he is known for. Raheem Sterling netted in the first half followed by a Steven Gerrard penalty and Alberto Moreno strike sealed the victory for Liverpool.
Tottenham were unchanged from their 3-0 win at home to QPR last week after looking impressive in their first two games of the season. Liverpool made three changes from their defeat to Manchester City on Monday with Manquillo in for Johnson, Balotelli in for Coutinho and Sakho in for Skrtel. The first real test for Spurs which they came unstuck in; Liverpool started fast as they did in the majority of games last year. With the inclusion of Balotelli, Liverpool reverted to a midfield diamond with Sterling behind Balotelli and Sturridge. Sterling thrived in this position last season and started where he left off, breaking in between the two Spurs defensive midfielders of Bentaleb and Capoue. Balotelli nearly made a perfect start to his Liverpool career heading straight at Lloris after a Sturridge cross. Liverpool’s passing was much slicker and faster than Tottenham’s and were rewarded after 7 minutes. Sturridge held the ball up in the right channel and played in an advancing Henderson who looked up the crossed to Sterling who evaded Eric Dier at the back post to slot home.
Liverpool continued to press for a second with Sterling and Balotelli a real threat for the visitors with Balotelli glancing wide after a cross and Sterling creating chances for Sturridge but the England striker wasn’t able to double the Reds lead. Tottenham were lacking rhythm and tempo to their play whilst Liverpool looked very comfortable and powerful in their play. With the addition of Balotelli to the already attacking squad, Liverpool now have a variety of options to play in their matches. Tottenham created one chance in the first half and it came from a mistake from Liverpool’s two center halves. A long ball to Adebayor was challenged by Lovern and Sakho with the Spurs forward glancing on to Chadli, but the Belgian midfielder saw his shot saved by Mignolet.
With Tottenham behind at the break, Pochettino needed to introduce tempo to their play but with a record of never winning a match in England after going behind the omens did not look good for them. Liverpool started in the same vein as the first half and won a penalty two minutes into the half. Joe Allen broke into the Spurs box, Eric Dier was the wrong side appearing to pull back the Welsh midfielder. A soft decision given by Phil Dowd with Steven Gerrard making no mistake from the spot putting them 2-0 in front. Spurs made a double change but made no impact with Townsend’s first touch setting up Liverpool’s third. Moreno who had been pressing Tottenham all game won the ball from Townsend in his own half, the recent signing from Sevilla advanced all the way to Spurs’s box with Kaboul standing off the left back unleashed a fizzing shot across Lloris and into the far post.
Liverpool were far superior to Tottenham on the day, highlighting their strength in depth with the introduction of Markovic seeing Liverpool revert to a 4-3-3 system with Sterling back to his wide left berth. Balotelli gives Liverpool another option in the attacking third but they need to be careful about Sturridge’s position as his preferred place is through the middle. Sterling was a delight to watch highlighting the potential he had at the top of the game but the most pleasing think for Liverpool is the clean sheet after conceding 50 goals last season. Both full backs looked comfortable attacking and defending with Moreno bouncing back from his mistake at City on Monday.
Tottenham were disappointing after a good start to the season but lacked tempo with Liverpool limiting space for Lamela, Eriksen and Chadli to impact on the game. With the international break Liverpool have highlighted their intent for this season but Tottenham will need to better against the top teams in the division. The key decision in the game was the penalty but it was a very soft penalty to give which Tottenham will not be happy with and rightfully so.