Jürgen Klopp has been pilloried in the past for being unable to have a team that scores plenty of goals but keep it tight at the back. Scoring goals has rarely been our problem. Now, we are in the head scratching situation where we are seeing games out comfortably but not scoring the goals that our play deserves despite having a hatful of chances.
The Tottenham game was a frustrating one because we were hanging on for the last two minutes despite the fact that we exercised almost complete control in the game. I will say now in fact that no other team will go to Wembley/Milton Keynes/wherever Spurs play this season and exercise those levels of dominance over them.
We ran the show from the first minute and the signs were there when we had a goal disallowed inside of 90 seconds. They had flurries here and there as a team of that quality always will but we were the completely dominant team from start to finish.
“Spurs were lethargic.”
“Spurs had players missing.”
None of those are our problem – we did what we had to do and the game was dead when Roberto Firmino finally put us 2-0 up early in the second half. I might sound churlish here, but the scoreline should have been 6-0 before we entered injury time. We were, simply put, wasteful and profligate. Mo Salah and Sadio Mané didn’t have their shooting boots on and to be honest, they didn’t have their teamwork boots on either.
Both of them were guilty of blazing high and wide despite the fact they had team mates in far better positions. Mané shouldn’t be short of confidence having scored four this season already but you wouldn’t have thought so as chance after chance went begging in the Wembley sunshine. Mo Salah is still scratching around for form and is in my view guilty of trying too hard and overthinking every situation.
Even if it wasn’t missing chances, it was poor decisions in the final third. The amount of times we missed out on 4 on 3 breaks was infuriating. We almost always seemed to choose the wrong ball, shoot when the shot wasn’t on, or overplay. Last season I am confident we would have won that game 4-0 at a minimum and we would probably have had that scoreline at half time with the chances we put together.
It did have the feeling of “same old Liverpool” for long stretches of that match until Gini Wijnaldum’s powerful header put us in front because we should have been well in front at that point.
Had we won 2-0 then the lack of efficiency might have been overlooked but the late, undeserved goal from Lamela really caused panic for a few minutes. Arguably Spurs should have had a penalty after that as well, but given the penalties that they got in the 2-2 draw at Anfield in February, there’ll be nought but a shrug of the shoulders from me. My blood pressure becomes volcanic at the mere mention of that game.
It just highlights though how precarious a match can quickly become if you don’t finish teams off. 2-0 is the most dangerous scoreline in football and a game is never over because a goal can completely change the complexion of the game. Despite the fact they were significantly off form and comprehensively outplayed, Spurs could have snatched a point had that penalty been given.
And it would have felt a lot like “same old Liverpool.” I am very pleased with our performance on Saturday because we have gone to one of the “big six” and won – but we could and should have sent a message to the rest of the league with a comprehensive scoreline.
We can’t keep saying “someone is going to get a hiding soon.” We need to actually go out and do it, because our front three have collectively yet to hit their stride. When they do, and I’m sure they will imminently, we are going to be even more of a force to be reckoned with than we already are.