#TOTLIV: Liverpool beat Tottenham to stretch lead at the top

Roberto Firmino scores Liverpool's second as they beat Tottenham 2-1 at Wembley
Roberto Firmino scores Liverpool’s second as they beat Tottenham 2-1 at Wembley

Liverpool beat Tottenham to maintain their 100% start to the season and secure victory in each of their first five league fixtures for the first time in 27 years.

Georginio Wijnaldum’s looping first-half header, awarded by goalline technology, set Jurgen Klopp’s side on their way before Roberto Firmino hammered home from close range.

Erik Lamela scored late on to set up a tense finish, but they could not create another clear chance to equalise.

The result means Spurs have suffered back-to-back league defeats for the first time since the final two fixtures of the 2015-16 season.

Liverpool’s powerful statement

Liverpool’s title ambitions have been clear since the arrival of expensive summer acquisitions such as £67m goalkeeper Alisson from Roma to top up other new signings Naby Keita, Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri, as well as the £75m purchase of defender Virgil van Dijk in January.

The expectations have been heightened by those four straight wins but a trip to face Spurs at Wembley, where they were well beaten 4-1 last season, was regarded by many as the acid test of those aspirations.

They answered in the most positive manner possible and confirmed their growing status as the team most likely to topple reigning champions Manchester City. This game was never as close as the final scoreline suggests.

True, Spurs were astonishingly lethargic but it would be unfair to remove credit from Liverpool on the basis of the home side’s performance.

The Reds were more vibrant, dangerous and energetic from the first whistle and moments of discomfort when they were not in control were few and far between.

The imperious Van Dijk ruled at the back, Liverpool were dominant in midfield and the pace of Sadio Mane and the guile of Firmino were simply too much for Spurs.

Sloppy Spurs suffer in the sun

Spurs looked like they had recorded a landmark win when they went to Manchester United and came away with a convincing 3-0 victory.

It looked like the sort of statement manager Mauricio Pochettino had been seeking – but how the tables have turned since that night at Old Trafford.

Spurs conceded a lead to lose at Watford and to be brutal they were a very serious second best to Liverpool at Wembley.

Pochettino was without injured goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, particularly expensive given Michel Vorm’s uncertainty, and Dele Alli – but so many aspects of this performance will have disappointed the demanding Spurs manager.

Spurs looked exhausted and off the pace almost from the first whistle, second to everything, and to see his side look so leg-weary and drained so early in the season will concern Pochettino.

Of course it is early days and far too soon to be raising serious questions about Spurs but the manner in which they were so completely outmanoeuvred by a team they will rightly regard as close rivals was ominous at times.

It could be that Spurs are suffering a hangover from the World Cup as seven of their starting line-up were involved until the semi-final stage.

And, of course, it may have been a very bad off-day.

Pochettino will hope it is the latter after a day of suffering in the Wembley sun for Spurs.

Underrated Firmino exerts his influence

Liverpool’s attacking trio of Firmino, Mane and Mohamed Salah have had a devastating impact on the Premier League and Champions League after Klopp brought them together at the start of last season.

Their combination of pace, movement and firepower has wreaked havoc ever since in a manner which strikes fear into the heart of the best defences.

Salah was subdued again but Mane’s blistering pace was a constant danger and Firmino’s subtle touches and work-rate were a standout.

The Brazilian made a slightly slow start to the season but he has now contributed what proved to be the winning goals in successive away wins at Leicester City and now Spurs.

He has an impact in all areas of the pitch, whether it is scoring from virtually standing on the line to chasing back to near his own corner flag to help with defensive duties.

Firmino is a class all-rounder and it is easy to see why Klopp rates him so highly.

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