Mohamed Salah’s first-half brace was the difference as Jurgen Klopp’s embattled Liverpool side racked up a 2-1 win at Tottenham in Sunday’s big Premier League clash.
– Report: Spurs 1, Liverpool 2 | Premier League table | Upcoming fixtures
Salah was nicely set up by teammate Darwin Nunez to score on the volley after 11 minutes, while Spurs defender Eric Dier’s error five minutes before half-time allowed the Liverpool forward to scamper in and chip beyond Hugo Lloris and double the visitors’ lead. Spurs were well on top after the interval, forcing a string of big saves from Alisson, but halved the Reds’ lead with 20 minutes left as substitute Dejan Kulusevski teed up Harry Kane for a casual finish. Yet the hosts were unable to find an equalizer, with Alisson again coming up big in the closing minutes to ensure all three points went home with Liverpool.
The win pushes Liverpool to within seven points of the top four after 13 games, while Tottenham were unable to vault Newcastle and remain stuck in fourth place. Here are Mark Ogden’s observations from a pulsating clash in north London.
JUMP TO: Player ratings | Best/worst performers | Highlights and notable moments | Postmatch quotes | Key stats | Upcoming fixtures
1. Salah stars as Liverpool end away drought with big win at Tottenham
Salah scored his eighth goal in eight games for Liverpool as Klopp’s team finally secured their first Premier League away win of the season against Tottenham.
His two goals at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium were enough to claim all three points, even though a Kane strike in the second half inspired a late Spurs surge in which they laid siege to Alisson’s goal. The introduction of substitutes Matt Doherty and Kukusevski enabled Spurs to gain a foothold in the game, but Antonio Conte’s team failed to score a second to claim a point, and they have now been beaten by top-six rivals Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool this season.
Having suffered back-to-back defeats against Nottingham Forest and Leeds, Liverpool’s victory was still not enough to take the 2019-20 champions into the European qualification positions with Klopp’s side climbing to eighth, seven points behind fourth-placed Spurs. But after ending their long wait for an away win, Liverpool can now head into the World Cup shutdown having drawn a line under their poor form on the road.
Whether it is enough to propel them into a run of form in the second half of the season that takes them into the top four remains to be seen, but this win showed that Liverpool are still capable of beating the top teams when their star players perform.
2. Nunez finding his feet, but still in Salah’s shadow
Nunez looked lively against Tottenham and Liverpool’s £75 million summer signing from Benfica will have gained confidence from the first-half assist from which Salah opened the scoring. But the Uruguay forward still looks incredibly raw alongside seasoned performers such as Salah and Roberto Firmino. Perhaps that it is why it is so difficult to judge him on early performances — he is being measured against Liverpool greats, after all — and also the one that he was signed to replace, Sadio Mane.
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Regardless, Nunez is showing enough in games now to suggest he will eventually justify his transfer fee. It should also be remembered that Salah failed to make it at Chelsea in his first stint in England, while Firmino took months to settle at Anfield after arriving from Hoffenheim under former boss Brendan Rodgers. Nunez is now being judged to higher standards than his predecessors because of Liverpool’s recent success, but he has pace and a clear attacking instinct and knows where the goal is.
Yes, he can be frustrating, and against Spurs there were too many times when he overran the ball or failed to make a simple pass. He also missed a clear chance to score when he hit the crossbar in the 82nd minute, but Nunez is a talent and is making progress.
We may see a different, more confident player when he returns from World Cup duty.
3. Sessegnon could be a World Cup wild card
Gareth Southgate names England’s World Cup squad on Thursday, and injuries to defenders in recent weeks have opened up the prospect of a surprise pick when the manager announces his 26 players for Qatar.
Ryan Sessegnon would have had virtually no chance of a World Cup call-up at the start of this season, but the Tottenham defender might just sneak onto the plane due to England having just one fit left-back available in Manchester United’s Luke Shaw. Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell has been ruled out with a hamstring injury, and while Southgate has used Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka as a left-sided wing-back in the past, it would be a risk to travel to the World Cup with just one specialist at the position.
Against Liverpool, Sessegnon impressed as a wing-back, giving Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold several problems in advanced positions. He is also a natural left-back, so he could be an option to cover for Shaw.
While the former Fulham player has made 20 appearances for England U-21s, he has yet to be capped at senior level. He would not have banked on being involved in Qatar, but circumstances mean he may now be knocking on the door.
Tottenham Hotspur: Hugo Lloris 6; Emerson Royal 5, Eric Dier 5, Clement Lenglet 7, Ben Davies 6, Ryan Sessegnon 7; Rodrigo Betancur 6, Yves Bissouma 6, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg 6; Harry Kane 7, Ivan Perisic 6.
Subs: FW Dejan Kulusevski 7, DF Matt Doherty 7, FW Lucas Moura 6.
Liverpool: Alisson 7; Trent Alexander-Arnold 5, Ibrahima Konate 6, Virgil van Dijk 6, Andy Robertson 7; Harvey Elliott 6, Fabinho 6, Thiago 7; Roberto Firmino 6; Mohamed Salah 8, Darwin Nunez 7.
Subs: MF Curtis Jones 6, MF Jordan Henderson 6, DF Joe Gomez 6, MF Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 6.
Best and worst performers
BEST: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool
Salah is still the player who makes it all happen for Liverpool, and he scored two classy goals to put his team in control against Spurs.
WORST: Emerson Royal, Tottenham
A close run thing, with both Eric Dier and Trent Alexander-Arnold having bad days defensively, but Royal edged them both by being poor at the back and also failing to take advantage of acres of space down his side when going forward.
Highlights and notable moments
Liverpool are still desperately searching for form and coherence amid a difficult schedule and a ton of injuries, but the interplay of Nunez and Salah up front should bode well as a tactical option after the World Cup, even when other players like Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz return to full fitness.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) November 6, 2022
As for Tottenham, injuries have hurt their attack as well, though the return of Kulusevski is a big boost to their top-four chances, too.
1m 21s between Dejan Kulusevski coming on and providing the assist for Harry Kane.
Safe to say Spurs have missed him! 🇸🇪#TOTLIV
— Opta Analyst (@OptaAnalyst) November 6, 2022
Talk about instant impact!
After the match: What the players and managers said
“I think we were lucky in the first half, we played quite good and managed to score two goals. In the second half we could’ve scored, but were unlucky. We did well to get the three points. It is always a tough opponent. I’m focused on making a difference and managed to do so today.
“We managed to strike back a few times in the season, have played some good games.” — Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah, to Sky Sports
Key stats (via ESPN Stats & Info)
– Mohamed Salah: 10 career goals vs. Tottenham in all competitions, tied with Manchester United for his most against any team.
– Mohamed Salah: four-game scoring streak in all competitions, his longest in 2022.
– Tottenham has had four errors leading to a goal in the Premier League this season (including Liverpool’s second goal). No other team in PL has more than two.
Tottenham Hotspur: Conte’s side have just two games left before the World Cup break, with a midweek trip to Nottingham Forest in the EFL Cup third round (Nov. 9) followed by a league date with Jesse Marsch and Leeds United (Nov. 12).
Liverpool: For Klopp, there’s one more chance to improve their league position with a Nov. 12 home date with Southampton, and as a result you can expect a heavily rotated squad for their own midweek EFL Cup game, a third-round clash with Derby County (Nov. 9) at Anfield.