James Milner is the main man for Liverpool after 2-1 win over Tottenham

Alex Broun 19:14 15/09/2018
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James Milner tussles with Danny Rose at Wembley

Liverpool edged to a 2-1 win over Tottenham at Wembley in the early game on Saturday as the Reds kept their perfect start to the season intact with five wins from five.

Spurs fought back late with a goal to Erik Lamela with just two minutes left in injury time – and they even had a shout for a penalty in the final minute when Sadio Mane tussled with Son Heung-min in the box.

But Liverpool deservedly held on to take the points ahead of a dream/nightmare run of matches coming up.

Here are our talking points from the match:

KLOPP WINS TACTICAL BATTLE 

The Reds manager is starting to show a much more mature side to his coaching this year, with the German comfortably winning the tactical battle against the renowned Mauricio Pochettino.

The Spurs manager was guilty of being too timid at the start, opting for four at the back rather than his usual three. But it was the midfield where Pochettino really paid the price.

He started with a defensive looking trio of Harry Winks, Mousa Dembele and Eric Dier who did manage to compete against the Reds trio of James Milner, Gini Wijnaldum and Naby Keita.

But with a decisive lack of pace, even when the Spurs mid-three won the ball they were not able to release their front trio of Christian Eriksen, sitting in behind Harry Kane and Lucas Moura.

The result was chances were few and far between for a disjointed Spurs.

In the end goal line technology awarded a goal to Gini Wijnaldum that gave Liverpool the edge at half time and after that Pochettino was playing catch up.

But the real damage was done leading up to that with Spurs far too timid from the start at home, succeeding momentum and much-needed confidence to the visitors.

SPURS SLOW START 

Tottenham were coming off a crushing loss to Watford before the international break and they needed to start with urgency at Wembley to rid themselves of any negative memories of that match.

In a cagey first half Spurs started poorly and Liverpool were unlucky not to lead with just minutes gone, with Sadio Mane ruled offside though he may not have touched the final flick on by Roberto Firminio which found its way into the net.

The match then took on a pattern with Spurs battling hard to win possession in midfield and then lob a long ball to one of the forward trio.

It almost worked with Eriksen finding room on the right to whip in fast balls in search of Kane and Liverpool fortunate to get in a head or a boot just to knick it away in time.

But in possession Spurs let the pace drop, often playing at a snail’s pace, and the match became further stagnated with Spurs happy to get niggly in the Liverpool half to stop the Reds building up any momentum.

The glacial pace in possession suited Liverpool perfectly as they were able to set themselves to repel any Spurs advances.

MILNER THE MAN 

You could have been excused for thinking James Milner would be a forgotten man at Liverpool this season.

Edging closer to 33, and with the arrival of big money signings Naby Keita and Fabinho, odds were Milner would fade into the background becoming a squad player called on in times of need.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Milner started the pre-season blazing and has hardly taken his foot off the gas.

He has grabbed one of the midfield spots and made it his own, starting all five of the Reds premier league matches to date, along with another surprise packet – Wijnaldum.

Milner was again outstanding at Wembley, but it is not just in doing the hard work winning the ball in the middle of the park where the 32-year-old is excelling.

He is driving forward dangerously, linking on the flanks with his front three or full backs, and regularly finding a killer pass to split the defence open.

Once again he was among Liverpool’s best against Spurs, with a game high five crunching tackles, 46 passes at an accuracy of 74 per cent and most telling, three chances created, another game high. He also ran 12.9kms, another game high.

His pinpoint delivery at corners also remains one of his major assets leading to Wijnaldum’s opener.

With these kinds of numbers is it any wonder he is one of the first names on Klopp’s team sheet.

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