Liverpool 4 Tottenham 2 – Elliott and Salah boost Reds, more questions for Spurs

Liverpool won a high-scoring game against Tottenham as Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League farewell tour edges closer to its end.

Goals from Mohamed Salah, Andrew Robertson, Cody Gakpo and a stunner from Harvey Elliot gave the Reds a 4-0 lead that their performance had more than warranted.

Spurs improved greatly after a raft of substitutions, and scored through Richarlison and Son Heung-min, but in truth it was for the most part another underwhelming showing from Ange Postecoglou’s team.

Mark Carey, Ahmed Walid and Jack Pitt-Brooke discuss the key talking points…

Liverpool’s right flank wins the day

Narratives are often never far from Mohamed Salah, and for the overwhelming majority of his time on Merseyside they have been filled with positives.

In recent weeks, there have been some rare negatives to add to the collection, with  performances that many have questioned. Was it a sign of his inevitable decline, or simply a blip? Based on his showing on Sunday afternoon, it seemed to be the latter.

There was an extra spring in the step as he received the ball, often making penetrating runs in behind to offer himself to his midfield team-mates. A back-post headed finish in the first half was reward for his rejuvenated display.

In truth, it was difficult to determine whether Liverpool’s strength on the right flank was down to Salah’s energy or Tottenham Hotspur’s weakness defensively. Emerson Royal did well in possession when inverting from left-back, but the Brazilian is not a natural on that side and looked lost out of possession.

Salah was constantly dancing out of the eye line of Emerson and Liverpool were clearly looking to overload that side of the pitch to cross or shoot from the right channel. 

mohamed salah liverpool 4

Alexis Mac Allister would occasionally drift over to help add further numbers, Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross that eventually found its way to Andy Robertson to tap in, and Harvey Elliott’s cross for Cody Gakpo’s goal came from a high regain on the right flank after Emerson failed to clear his lines.

Elliott then scored Liverpool’s fourth, cutting inside and forcing his way past Rodrigo Bentancur before bending a superb left-footed strike into the top corner.

It made for a forgettable afternoon for Emerson Royal, who was replaced by Oliver Skipp after 61 minutes — and it shows just how much they have missed Destiny Udogie in the past three games.

Mark Carey

Spurs’ attack raises as many questions as defence

A lot will be said about Tottenham’s defensive perormance today, but football is not broken down in compartmentalised units, and the problems they had in the first hour at Anfield were not just to do with the back four. This was another game when the attack that Postecoglou selected was unable to make any impact. It took the arrival of Richarlison and James Maddison from the bench on the hour mark for Spurs to launch the fightback that at least made the scoreline respectable.

Spurs have a problem up front. This season Son has played on the left to accommodate Richarlison through the middle. But today Son was up front and Richarilson on the bench. The problem is that Son, who started the season brilliantly, has faded recently. And while he is devastating running forward he cannot hold up the ball. This hurts the whole Spurs team because they can never relieve pressure. The team is better balanced with Richarlison up front and Son on the left, whatever you think about Richarlison’s consistency in front of goal. And this means if Brennan Johnson plays it must be on the right, whipping balls into the box. Which in turn means that if Dejan Kulusevski plays it has to be in midfield. Spurs will need answers to these questions, possibly answers in the transfer market, if they are to improve over the summer.

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Endo not perfect, but fits this Liverpool perfectly

Considering that most teams in the world want their No 6 to be elite both in and out of possession, Liverpool’s acquisition of Wataru Endo in the summer looked peculiar — especially given he was replacing Fabinho, despite the Brazilian’s drop in form.

However, as the season has progressed, Endo’s performance has been important to this Liverpool side in the second half of the season. The Japan midfielder isn’t perfect — he doesn’t look the most comfortable on the ball and feels susceptible to the opponent’s press — but he fits how Jurgen Klopp’s side wants to play.

This season, Liverpool have been more direct and transitional in their style than the previous seasons, moving back to their previous nature in Klopp’s early years. That approach has helped Endo as the Japan midfielder’s qualities off the ball in terms of pressing, counter-pressing and fighting for second balls thrive in these helter-skelter game of duels.

In addition, Liverpool haven’t left him stranded when they want to build up and progress the ball through the thirds. Usually, Alexis Mac Allister would drop next to Endo during the build-up phase, or Trent-Alexander Arnold would move into a narrow position, or at fewer times the Japanese would drop between the centre-backs with the two players in front of him having more responsibility to progress the ball up the pitch.

Ahmed Walid

What did Jurgen Klopp say?

We will bring you this after he has spoken at the post-match press conference.

What did Ange Postecoglou say?

We will bring you this after he has spoken at the post-match press conference.

What next for Liverpool?

Monday, May 13: Aston Villa (A), Premier League, 8pm BST, 3pm ET

Jurgen Klopp’s side comfortably saw off Aston Villa 3-0 at Anfield the last time these two sides played each other back in early September, with Dominik Szoboszlai and Mohamed Salah scoring either side of a Matty Cash own goal.

Liverpool have only lost two of their last 22 visits to Villa Park in the Premier League. However, their last defeat — in October 2020 — was that 7-2 thrashing. Since then, though, Liverpool have won the following two fixtures by a scoreline of 2-1 and 3-1 respectively.

What next for Spurs?

Saturday, May 11: Burnley (H), Premier League, 3pm BST, 10am ET

After a dramatic north London derby followed by trips to Stamford Bridge and Anfield, Spurs may finally feel as if they can breathe easier with a home game against Burnley next up.

History would certainly agree. As well as beating this Burnley side managed by Vincent Kompany 5-2 away in the league in September and 1-0 at home in the FA Cup in January, Spurs have never lost at home to Burnley in the Premier League. They’ve won seven of those eight matches (drawing the other) by an aggregate score of 19-2.

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(Top photo: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

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