This was always going to be a tough game.
Fortress Anfield or not, Spurs are playing some of their best football in many years, and it would not have shocked anybody had the Special One got one over the Reds today. Especially not in light of the overloaded medical facilities at Kirkby. Instead, we were treated to a Normal One’s signature Kloppage-time goal that sealed another victory against a team with whom, it seems, our debit account only continues to grow.
The importance of this victory cannot be overstated at this stage of this crazy season. It is not only because of Liverpool – finally! – opening up a clear lead at the top of the table. That in itself is, of course, significant, but the psychological factor involved in this utterly insane run of sixty-six games without home loss in the premier league may be even bigger; it had to play some role in Bergwijn missing the opportunities that he had. Having fans in the Kop has an immensely positive impact on the Reds as well, and their magical ability to suck a ball in – as they apparently did for Salah’s opener – is now seemingly enhanced to also being able to repel the oppositions’ attempts.
Son then equalized in a moment that deserves far more controversy than it is apparently generating. Sure, he took it well, but how many times have we been treated to armpit and shoelace offsides? Minutes upon minutes of multiple lines being drawn, then seemingly contorted to make sure that the attacker’s shin hairs cross the line and cause a goal to be chalked off? Did you see any of that happening today? Suddenly VAR seemed perfectly content to allow what looked like a full two inches of Son’s boot to be ahead, not even giving it more than a casual glance. And the obvious question on my mind is:
What… are… the… rules?
Had it cost Liverpool the win, I’m sure there would be more discussion, but ultimately, Liverpool’s often-and-unfairly maligned Number Nine was there and his header was a peach. He deserved it, too, as he otherwise played a fantastic game, slotting in and out constantly, and doing so much to disrupt the flow for Spurs in those rare moments when they took possession of the ball. His much younger counterpart, Curtis Jones, also played a terrific game, and might have earned a man-of-the-match award from me otherwise, but that joyful, gorgeous bullet in the closing moments tipped the scales to Bobby.
Rhys Williams gave a good account of himself in his premier league debut. He still made a couple of pretty hairy mistakes typical for a developing player his age, both of which resulted in big opportunities for the white shirts. At the same time, he showed a remarkable level of confidence and awareness throughout the game, even when placed under significant pressure. Fabinho, on the other hand, was pretty much perfect in his role, which really isn’t his role, and there was one moment towards the end where he reminded us of how much of a loss he is at midfield, as he gracefully danced around three Spurs’ players as if he was thirty yards ahead.
But maybe the most important takeaway from this game is this: Tottenham represents the best the premier league currently has to offer, apart from Liverpool themselves. Yet in the end, even with all the injuries and makeshift lineups, the points all stay in merseyside, and the Reds are indisputably at the top of the table. And all of it is achieved through a beautiful brand of football that is easy on the eye. If today was a contest of styles, between the bus-parking point-stealing Mourinho, and the heavy-metal joyriding Klopp, then I am sure that everyone will agree: it’s a result we should all applaud.