Paulo Gazzaniga – 7
This was a good game from the Argentine after a few questions were raised regarding his quality as a starting keeper in the Premier League. He came up with the good saves whenever he was called upon. He had very little chance against Firmino for the opener but his saves against Van Dijk, Mane, and Origi kept his team in the match.
Tottenham Hotspur came close to stealing a very valuable point against league leaders Liverpool at home, but ultimately came short, losing 1 – 0 with Firmino on the scoresheet. Jose Mourinho surprised everyone by giving Japhet Tanganga his Premier League debut against currently the best side in the world and kept the back three shape that struggled against Middlesbrough last week in the FA Cup.
The game started off predictably with Liverpool being the much better side and controlling possession while Tottenham having to sit back and defend with numbers. Tottenham’s strategy was to counter with Dele, Lucas, and Son all looking to attack Liverpool defenders and create chances against the run of play.
Liverpool had their clearest chance in the opening minutes with Tanganga blocking Firmino’s shot at the goal line and keeping the game level. Liverpool continued to dominate from then on however, and found their opening goal through Firmino’s good strike after 4 mistakes in a row from the Spurs defence with Winks, Alderweireld, Dele, and Tanganga all slow to react from a throw-in. Still, Tottenham showed character and desire to keep the deficit at one going into half time which would have encouraged Mourinho.
Second half started with more of the same with Liverpool now controlling the tempo even more by keeping possession and creating half chances for their front three. The press by Spurs attackers didn’t seem to alter the way Liverpool played, and the defenders were not troubled by the counter attacks from Lucas and Son. The game changing moment came in the 69th minute, when Mourinho introduced the Argentine duo of Lo Celso and Lamela in place of Eriksen and Rose, both of whom had terrible performances up to that point. After the changes, Spurs looked like a completely different side with the press working much better and attacking opportunities coming one after the other. Tottenham had two clear cut chances to equalise and maybe win the game late on when first Son then Lo Celso missed from inside the box.
The game ended with Liverpool able to close out the game, but Tottenham finally had a performance to take positives out of after a wretched period riddled with dropped points and injuries. The attacking play was much better, especially in the second half, and the defence was a lot more engaged.
Tanganga’s good debut was also encouraging, as it looks like the aging Belgian duo could be replaced from the academy, freeing up the transfer budget for more pressing needs in the squad.
Tottenham will play Middlesbrough in the FA Cup replay midweek, before travelling to Watford next Saturday. Mourinho again needs to use the positives from today to shape his team for the next games, something he hasn’t done in a while. Hopefully, this performance
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