Liverpool leapfrogged Tottenham with a comfortable 3-0 win on Sunday afternoon, reaffirming their title credentials after a demoralising loss away at Man City.
In truth, from the eighth minute onwards, a Liverpool win looked the most likely outcome. But given that both of these sides have a similarly lofty aim of finishing in the top four this season, it was intriguing to consider where these teams are at as the transfer window draws to a close. Here are five of the most interesting conclusions to be drawn from Liverpool’s easy win at White Hart Lane:
1) Mario Balotelli will be an asset to Liverpool
He may have squandered a few opportunities on Sunday, but ‘Super Mario’ showed enough at White Hart Lane to indicate that he was a shrewd buy. ‘Hard working’ is perhaps a phrase that you’d be surprised to hear associated with Balotelli, but the Italian was just that – all over the pitch in the 60 minutes he was on the field. He seemed to fit in very well with the rest of the Liverpool players, and showed a number of neat touches that emphasised his undoubted qualities. If Balotelli and Sturridge are able to strike up a good understanding this season, then the two centre forwards could bear considerable fruit.
It has been said that Brendan Rodgers’ decision to purchase Balotelli was a big risk, but the early signs suggest that not only was it a risk well worth taking, but it’s a risk that has every chance of paying off.
2) Tottenham’s team just isn’t good enough
This may be painful for the White Hart Lane faithful to hear, but the reality is that Spurs simple aren’t in the same league as Liverpool anymore.
This fact will be particularly hard to take given that Tottenham has regularly outperformed the Red Army in the seasons preceding 2013-14, and the reality is that chairman Daniel Levy is the man who must answer for the Spurs’ backward slide since the reigns of Harry Redknapp and Andre Villas-Boas. Tottenham is not the force that it once was, and the stark reality is that vast investment is necessary if Spurs wish to dine with the big boys once more.
3) Tottenham’s tawdry defence
The biggest issues for Spurs are in their defence, and with hardly any time to go before the end of the transfer window, it seems unlikely that those issues are going to be ironed out anytime soon.
Danny Rose was desperately poor for the entire game, failing to stay with his man and continually being dispossessed, but anyone who watched the left back will not have been surprised by this. More worrying was the dire game had by central defence stalwart Younes Kaboul. The Frenchman was awful throughout, and it will be interesting to see whether the big centre back will keep his place now that Federico Fazio has now signed on the dotted line for the Lilywhites.
4) Liverpool looks good
I’ve got to be honest and say that I thought Liverpool would struggle this season following the loss of Luis Suarez. Without the Uruguayan, the Reds have far less quality to call upon, and I just felt that with a resurgent United, a strengthened Arsenal and Chelsea, and an ever-strong City, Liverpool would be the side to miss out on the top four.
I think I may have been wrong.
The ease with which Liverpool dispatched Spurs indicated that they are currently operating several leagues above Pochettino’s side, and given that United are yet to record their first win of the campaign, it seems that the Red Devils are the side more likely to miss out on the top four. It’s never easy to lose a key player, but the way that Rodgers has handled the loss of Suarez is to his credit.
5) Footballers really need to toughen up
Whilst it was clearly unwise for Eric Dier to reach out and touch Joe Allen in the penalty box, the theatrical dive from the Welshman was nothing short of disgraceful. The former Swansea man went down like he’d been shot, and given that he got a penalty out of it, it’s not hard to see why. I love football, but I’d love it a whole of a lot more if players were rewarded for staying on their feet and battling through a situation rather than being rewarded for taking the wuss’ way out.
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