Premier League

4 Tactical Insights You Should Know After Tottenham 4-1 Liverpool

 • by Tom Bodell
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Wembley curse – what Wembley curse? Two goals in the first 12 minutes set Tottenham Hotspur on their way to a resounding 4-1 win over Liverpool at the national stadium and go level with Manchester United on points.

Harry Kane – who else? – opened the scoring after four minutes by taking advantage of some generous defending from Dejan Lovren and Simon Mignolet to tuck home from a throw on.

Heung-min Son doubled the hosts’ advantage in the 12th minute, collecting Kane’s defence-splitting pass and sending a rasping first-time effort beyond Mignolet.

Liverpool threatened to mount a comeback when Mo Salah scuffed in off the far post after 24 minutes but that was a rare chance for the Reds in a half which had been dominated by Spurs until that point.

Tottenham then added a third moments before the break, Dele Alli ramming home after Joël Matip’s weak header fell to him just inside the penalty area.

Tottenham re-took the initiative after the restart by bagging a fourth. Another set piece was poorly dealt with by the visitors and Kane was on hand to hook home after Jan Vertonghen had seen his effort blocked.

Here is where the game at Wembley was won and lost.

Liverpool unable to deal with Spurs counter

Everyone knows that Mauricio Pochettino wants his side to press high and play at pace. So it cannot have been a surprise to Liverpool that the north Londoners are a threat on the counter attack.

Yet the way Liverpool were undone on multiple occasions by Spurs on the break suggests the visitors were very much taken by surprise. This is hardly the first time Pochettino’s side have torn their opponents to shreds on the break; they did so in the recent 4-0 demolition of Huddersfield Town prior to the international break.

Already reeling from a soft opener – gifted to Kane by the hapless Lovren – Spurs doubled up when Lovren misjudged a routine ball forward. Kane took advantage of the space he had been afforded, motoring forward and splitting the Reds’ defence with an inch-perfect pass for Son to finish off.

Two goals in the first 12 minutes; there was no way back.

And it was far from the last time Liverpool were opened up with a single pass. On another day Tottenham would have built a far greater lead.

Tale of two Tottenham wing-backs

With Danny Rose not quite ready to start and Ben Davies ruled out through illness, Pochettino opted to start Serge Aurier on the left and Kieran Tripper on the right.

It was a decision which was vindicated as Tripper got wide, hugged the touchline and made the pitch big for Tottenham. He provided an outlet for the hosts throughout and ensured Alberto Moreno never got a moment’s break or – crucially – the chance to get forward and drive inside and attack Spurs’ backline.

However, on the left-hand side, it was a different story for former Paris Saint-Germain man Aurier who was pinned back by Salah. The Egyptian was Liverpool’s biggest threat throughout and it was little surprise the former Chelsea man was the one to get the visitors’ consolation goal.

No ball winner, no problem

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With former Manchester United transfer target Eric Dier ruled out on the day of the game and only available for a spot on the bench, Tottenham were left with a predicament in the centre of midfield. But Pochettino turned it to his advantage.

By setting up with Alli, Christian Eriksen and the increasingly impressive Harry Winks in the centre of midfield, Spurs went into the game without a recognised ball-winning or defensive-minded midfielder.

But it mattered not. Between them, Eriksen and Winks managed to shackle Barcelona transfer target Philippe Coutinho – save for one second-half shot which Hugo Lloris did brilliantly to save.

Further forward, though, the inclusion of Son alongside Kane was pivotal.

The Korean forward’s tireless running from deep caused Liverpool all manner of problems and his blistering pace made the hosts’ second goal; out-sprinting Joël Matip to meet Kane’s eye-of-a-needle pass and crash home the killer second goal.

Coutinho goes missing for Liverpool

Despite being nominally positioned on the left of the Reds’ front three, Coutinho was no-where to be seen in the first half.

That was not entirely the Brazilian’s fault. Save for Salah, Liverpool had no out ball and were struggling to break Tottenham down. Coutinho became increasingly frustrated and began to drop deeper and deeper in search of the ball.

Having enjoyed – at best – minimal impact on the first half Klopp acted at half time. He moved the diminutive playmaker into a No.10 role in the hope he would get on the ball and play between the lines more.

But the improvement was negligible. One fine strike, which Lloris did superbly to turn on the post, aside, the former Internazionale attacker was unable to grab hold of the game by the scruff of the neck and exert his will on proceedings.

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