Liverpool attack rediscovers its mojo to beat Tottenham and spark hopes of a renewed push up the table

Spurs 1-3 Liverpool: Hojbjerg’s wonder strike isn’t enough to deny Reds as Firmino, Alexander-Arnold and Mane end goalless run

Melissa Reddy
Thursday 28 January 2021 22:23 GMT
Liverpool celebrate scoring
Liverpool celebrate scoring (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
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A breathless game under the lights, drenched in downpours, defied recent convention and witnessed a revival of so many that had been out of sorts.

The bad news for Jose Mourinho is that they were on the Liverpool teamsheet: Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold rediscovered their mojo in North London to power the defending champions to their first league victory since December 19.

The visitors had been without a goal in the division since the dying days of last year and were facing a team joint-best with Manchester City in not conceding big chances.

READ MORE: Premier League fixtures and table - all matches by date and kick-off time

Yet two minutes into the match, Alexander-Arnold had found Mane with a long diagonal and the Senegal forward engaged in a one-two with Salah before inconceivably blazing over.

Mourinho was mid cursing his players for being so open when Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane combined with the former racing clear and slotting into the bottom left.

The effort was chalked off by VAR for offside, but those seconds offered a distillation of what we could expect: Liverpool’s chief creator, operating at right back, was on it with Salah, Mane and Firmino alive to that reality, while Spurs would be problematic on the counter.

The battle was ultimately which approach would overpower the other: the Merseysiders’ reinvigorated build-up play from their greatest offensive weapons versus Tottenham’s explosiveness on the break.

Liverpool totally nullified that element from Spurs, a task that was made easier sans an injured Kane in the second half.

While their display with the ball was mesmeric, the effort without it was exemplary in the context of their defensive issues.

To recap, one of the best anchors in world football and Liverpool’s fourth-choice centre-back Fabinho, who became their first option due to a trio of injuries - two of them severe - was missing here due to a muscle issue.

That left Jordan Henderson, their most crucial No.8, who had become the second pick in the heart of defence, stationed in the rearguard with a new partner: Joel Matip.

Liverpool's only fit senior centre-back, who was superb and playing like someone well versed in the position, went off at the interval with the inexperienced Nathaniel Phillips drafted in.

Henderson, and the team as a whole defensively, were incredible at restricting their opponents while continuously cutting through them.

Alexander-Arnold deserved his goal at the start of the second half - a smashing low diagonal shot into the bottom left - before Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg flipped the finger to the definition of big chances and rocketed a first-time hit from 25 yards into the top right.

That was Spurs’ lot, while Salah’s intelligent display was unfortunate not to be crowned with a reflection on the scoreboard as his strike from the edge of the box on 56 minutes was ruled out for offside in the build-up.

(Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Mane wrapped up the win, thundering Alexander-Arnold’s supreme diagonal, which Joe Rodon misread, into the top left.

Liverpool dominated every metric, creating four big chances and working 11 shots from inside the box.

Firmino was back to his relentless best; thieving possession, linking play, dropping deep and being a menace with his movement to create space for everyone else.

He played three key passes, only bettered by the understated James Milner.

Mane could have had a hat-trick by half-time, while Alexander-Arnold silenced his detractors with a man-of-the-match performance.

They had all looked themselves. And after the longest time, Liverpool felt like themselves.

Tottenham were comprehensively beaten and Klopp will hope this is the catalyst for his charges motoring back up to a more familiar position in the table.

The centre-back issue remains detrimental to that objective, with the pairings having now reached 16 for the season and the reality of zero fit senior options in the position returning.

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