Harry Kane capitalised on another defensive horror show from Liverpool by scoring twice for Tottenham in a ruthless 4-1 victory.
Dejan Lovren was substituted after just 31 minutes at Wembley but he was not the only one guilty of kamikaze defending, with Simon Mignolet and Joel Matip both major contributors to Spurs’ goal flurry.
Kane and Son Heung-min took full advantage with an early double before Mohamed Salah pulled one back for Liverpool. Dele Alli and Kane, however, struck either side of half-time to put the result beyond doubt.
Here are three things learned from Wembley.
Dejan Lovren delivered one of the poorest 30 minutes by a defender in Premier League history. His errors for a professional footballer were inexcusable. Awful positioning, no awareness of the defensive line and the sort of misjudgement of a ball in flight that would make a schoolboy embarrassed.
Joel Matip improved slightly once the Croatian was replaced but he too also delivered an error-ridden performance, summed up by a weak header straight to Dele Alli for Tottenham’s killer third just before half-time.
Credit to the Reds manager for making the change and switching to a back-three but the damage had long been done and he got it horribly wrong. Although, the seeds have been sown for a long time. This wasn’t the first time an opposition side have repeatedly attacked Liverpool down the left-hand channel in between Lovren and Alberto Moreno, and it won’t be the last.
Because the same problems remain and it’s very hard to see anything changing, based on previous and current evidence.
In the summer, Klopp was repeatedly asked about his lack of reinforcements in an area of the field which was a clear weakness. His reply was to throw it out to the floor and ask assembled journalists to name 4-5 centre-backs that would improve them.
The Virgil van Dijk mess is a separate issue, but Milan Skriniar, Harry Maguire, Michael Keane, Jeison Murillo, Simon Kjaer and Omer Toprak are all good to potentially very good defenders who joined new clubs in the summer and would walk into this Liverpool side, yet were either not picked out or passed over by Klopp and sporting director Michael Edwards.
During his time at Anfield, just £9million has been spent on centre-backs by Klopp. Unless you are a defensive genius, and it’s abundantly clear, Klopp isn’t; you get what you pay for.
If these sort of performances are down to individual mistakes, it’s on him; if it’s a wider structural issue, it’s on him.
Harry Kane is a curious phenomenon in modern football in that he cuts through the hype traditionally applied to a footballer in his form.
English football finally has an individual rapidly approaching – if he’s not already there yet – superstar status yet there is still an element of the understated in how he conducts himself on and off the field.
For all his talents in front of goal, and given his presence and influence at Spurs, he could now afford to primarily play as a penalty box predator, committing little to the ebb and flow of the game outside the 18 yards where he comes alive.
But he remains a fiercely dedicated and willing worker for his team, closing defenders down, forcing mistakes and nearly always providing an outlet for the likes of Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli to find him with their passes.
He’s also improving as a creative player himself, his pass to Heung-Min Son for Spurs’ second was inch perfect with echoes of Eriksen and Kevin De Bruyne. Of Premier League strikers, he lies third with 10 behind Sergio Aguero (14) and Romelu Lukaku (9) in terms of chances created.
Kane is forever working on and improving his game, whether it be his weaker foot, the timing of his runs or what more he can bring to his team-mates. His all-round ability renders the one fundamental weakness to his game, a lack of pace, virtually redundant.
It’s been a while coming but Dele Alli has another Premier League having not scored since August. For a player so prolific last term, it must have been weighing on his mind, especially when you are playing in a team so rich in creativity as Spurs.
Goals are also so important to his game as Alli is more Lampard than Gerrard in his approach and doesn’t perhaps offer the same continuity or consistency in possession as some of his team-mates. When he finds the target it tends to enrich the rest of his game.
Whether it be his goal (and a thanks to Matip is in order), or Spurs’ overall performance, or the fact they overwhelmed Liverpool in the middle of the park, Alli looked a brighter presence than in previous weeks, using the ball efficiently and one or two clever bits of skill (Emre Can look away now).
In a defensive sense he was also impactful, winning the ball back and making some key tackles in the middle of the park to disrupt any sort of momentum Liverpool were vainly hoping to build.
He is still 21 and we expect too much of him but that is the bar Alli has set. With Manchester United and Arsenal to come before mid-November, Mauricio Pochettino will be hoping for a few more timely inventions by the midfielder in front of goal.
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