English football

Liverpool’s record-setting win shows Spurs just how far they have to go in Mourinho’s rebuild – ENGLISH FOOTBALL

by: Adam Smith

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Liverpool's record-setting win shows Spurs just how far they have to go in Mourinho's rebuild - ENGLISH FOOTBALL 1

Steve Nicol is shocked by how the current Liverpool side attack is constantly trying to get behind their opposition.
Steve Nicol says Liverpool’s attack must pick up, even if the Reds continue to dominate the Premier League.

Another day, another win and another record for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. After Roberto Firmino’s goal in the first half secured a 1-0 win against Tottenham, the Premier League leaders took their points from an incredible 61 of 21 games – a number unmatched, never, by any team in the big five European championships.

Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Juventus had already set the benchmark by accumulating 59 points in their first 21 games of the season, but Liverpool have now broken that record.

“When someone told me that, I didn’t feel anything,” Klopp said. “I don’t know exactly what’s wrong with me; it’s really cool, it’s exceptional, but I didn’t think about it after the game, and someone had to remind me of it.

“All we’re trying to do is create a base for the rest of the season. We have a lot of tough games to play, today was difficult, but we have to be ready for the games to come.

Klopp can start enjoying the view from the top, however. Liverpool are 16 points clear of the chasing pack in the Premier League despite having played one game less than second-placed Leicester City, and at their current pace of progress, could win the title – the club’s first since 1990 – before the fi n from Mars.

Liverpool have been so impressive this season that it is sometimes easy to forget that they dropped only two points in the draw at Manchester United in October. They also took 88 points out of the last 90 available, so their consistency is phenomenal.

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United are next, at Anfield next Sunday, and only the most optimistic Mancunian would expect anything other than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team to steam like all the other sides who have travelled to Liverpool this campaign.

At Tottenham, Liverpool were unusually sloppy at times, especially in the first half, and they rode their luck after the interval, especially when Giovani Lo Celso missed a golden opportunity to equalise in the 83rd minute. It was a miss that saw coach Jose Mourinho sink to his knees on the sideline, but after the dust had settled, the Portuguese will also have admired the determination and winning mentality of Klopp’s team.

Whether they blow you away or stumble to victory, Liverpool do the job, and Mourinho admitted he could have no complaints about his injured team’s performance.

“I think we deserved something,” Mourinho said. “That’s why I have a good feeling with the boys, because Liverpool are probably the best team in the world, at maximum potential, capable of winning a big FA Cup game with a second team.

“But we have our problems and I think we deserve more than we have, and I have nothing but reason to be proud of my players. There were a lot of positives. We have a lot of difficulties at the moment with few solutions, but to compete with such a good opponent, I can only be satisfied with our performance.”

It was a fair assessment by Mourinho. Liverpool are untouchable at the moment, but their Spurs team are struggling to find form for a variety of reasons. The lack of confidence, which contributed to the sacking of Mauricio Pochettino in November, remains a problem, while injuries to Moussa Sissoko, Tanguy Ndombele, Hugo Lloris and, above all, Harry Kane, have hit Spurs from close range.

Tottenham have a long way to go to catch the likes of the dominant Liverpool.

There was a time when Mourinho’s teams were breaking records and tearing the ground apart, just like Liverpool do now, especially when he was at Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan, but his challenge at Spurs is quite different. It’s somewhere between the recovery work he had at United – where he ultimately failed – and the second time at Chelsea, when he inherited a team capable of winning big and did.

Spurs have the players, when everyone is fit, to challenge for silverware, but Mourinho needs to get as much as he can from this team until the end of the season, when he can try to rebuild and make him more able to deliver when he Matter. He needs reliable coverage for Kane and a top goalkeeper because neither Lloris nor his assistant Paulo Gazzaniga are good enough for a great Premier League team.

And he needs to move Christian Eriksen out of the club because the Danish midfielder, whose contract expires in the summer, played against Liverpool as if he had checked months ago. Boos rang out around the Tottenham Hotspur stadium when Eriksen was substituted late in the second half, and the taunts were certainly not for Mourinho’s decision to remove him.

But there were enough positives for Mourinho to point out, such as Japhet Tanganga’s impressive debut at right-back, the feisty dele Alli performance and the unlimited work ethic of Son Heung-min and Lucas Moura. Serge Aurier also looked like a player who could contribute much more to the right midfield than to the right-back, where his reckless tackle often makes him a responsibility.

But spurs under Mourinho are a work in progress, one that is at a very early stage of the transition. Liverpool, on the other hand, are the finished item under Klopp. Each week brings another climax, and they are at the peak of their powers.

It will take some time before Mourinho, or anyone else, can stop them.