That was quite a fast-paced game, completely expected from two sides managed by managers who emphasize on pressing. Balotelli had a great chance right at the start, but his header was smashed right at Lloris. But not long after, Sturridge and Henderson combined with great skill down the right to set up Sterling for an easy finish.
After that, it was a game very much in the balance, as we traded blows to and fro. Spurs had plenty of chances, although most of them came from defensive errors from our defenders. Gerrard gave away the ball plenty of times, and his long raking diagonals were not their usual pinpoint passes. Sakho, despite his quality in passing, also gave away the ball in dangerous places, earning Allen a booking for a professional foul.
Lovren also made a mistake, but made up for it with a great recovery tackle. Overall, the defence looked really shaky, and Mignolet was called on for a good save when both Sakho and Lovren went for the same ball. But our full-backs look great; Manquillo is brave both in possession and in defence, and Moreno is pacey as hell, adding a lot to our attack.
Sterling is bright and lively, and Allen brings so much balance to the side as does Henderson. Sturridge looks freer to play now with Balotelli occupying other defenders, as he did when Lambert came on against Southampton. Finally, Balotelli has a decent debut, with a few good chances, working hard to help out in defence and holding up the ball superbly. Once this team gels (especially the defence), I can see us really dominating some teams.
Right from the off we had some good interplay, and Allen won a (soft) penalty against them. Despite Balotelli on the pitch, Gerrard got the honours, and promptly tucked it into the corner. 2-0.
Spurs continued to probe, but their passing was mostly in front of our defence, and we coped decently well. Sakho grew into the game as it went on, while Lovren got a bit too into the front-foot defending, missing a couple of tackles and having to have his other teammates cover his botched attempts. But given that 3 of the 4 are new defenders, and Sakho’s only been in Liverpool for a season, I’ll definitely give them time to improve.
Manquillo continues to impress by dealing with everything that went down his flank, while Moreno…oh gosh, what a player we’ve got. He might well end up being a flop, but on the back of this performance, he’ll be impossible to dislodge. As Spurs held on to the ball fruitlessly, Moreno went to press Townsend, who had just come on. Moreno managed to then win the the ball deep in our half, but the guy didn’t falter, charging all the way into the Spurs box and smashing it into the far corner. 3-0.
Again, our 3rd goal against Spurs came from our left-back, but this time it was a remarkable piece of individual skill, akin to what Riise did before, and what Bale did recently.
Other than our functioning (for once!) defence, Gerrard was quite decent defensively, although he practically gave up passing properly for some reason. Being 3-0 up, Rodgers pulled off Balotelli and Allen for Markovic and Can, and we continued to impress, with Can going on a great run through the middle, handing the ball over to Sterling. Sterling then danced through the entire Spurs backline a lá Messi, and promptly shot weakly at Lloris. It was a bit embarrassing, but it was epic play.
Sterling then continued to torture the Spurs defence, and although they had their passages of passing play (and a few slightly threatening moments), the game eventually got passed to death.
Standout players? Moreno, for sure. Sterling stood out once more, looking far more mature than his real age. Henderson and Allen were tireless, while Manquillo and Moreno are definitely looking good. Lovren could do with some calming down, while Sakho grew into the game and didn’t put a foot wrong in the 2nd half, making a brilliant last-ditch tackle to deny Adebayor (who was offside anyway).
Gerrard needs to get back to his playmaking form, while Sturridge and Balotelli both excelled without scoring. Markovic could have run at Spurs more, but mostly I saw him just passing and pressing. Beating Spurs at White Hart Lane 3-0, with talents like Markovic and Can to bring on? Suarez who?