It was a record setting day for Tottenham Hotspur as a Premier League record setting 80,827 fans packed Wembley Stadium to see Spurs dismantle Liverpool 4-1 Harry Kane notched a brace, and Spurs also got goals from Son Heung-Min and Dele Alli as Tottenham got their first win over Liverpool since the spring of 2012.
Tottenham again started with an interesting lineup as Mauricio Pochettino again tinkered with his tactics. Son Heung-Min started up top with Harry Kane in a 3-5-2 formation, with Serge Aurier filling in for Ben Davies at left back; Davies started the match on the bench. Eric Dier also started the match on the bench due to illness, with Harry Winks, Christian Eriksen, and Dele Alli forming a midfield triangle. The usual trio of Davinson Sanchez, Jan Vertonghen, and Toby Alderweireld formed the back three.
Tottenham’s game plan seemed to be to press Liverpool hard in the midfield, hit back on the counter, and take advantage of Liverpool’s suspect defense. The tactics were surprisingly Kloppian, and it didn’t take long for it to pay off. Just four minutes in, Kieran Trippier found Kane with a chipped ball, who was played onside by Joe Gomez. Kane rounded Mignolet and left-footed the ball into the net to put Spurs up early.
Spurs doubled their lead before the quarter-hour mark on a perfect counter attack. Hugo Lloris threw a beautiful ball Kane in transition. Harry played a perfect ball to a streaking Son Heung-Min, who one-touched it into the back of the net. Just like that, Spurs were up two and looked likely to score more.
Son nearly had a brace just a couple minutes later, but he had a thunderous shot that went off the underside of the crossbar and out.
Spurs continued to pile on the pressure, and carved Liverpool’s defense open again and again. It looked for a while like Spurs would run away with the match, but Mo Salah clawed a goal back for Liverpool on a counter, poking a ball off the post and past Lloris to halve Spurs’ lead.
Having stemmed the bleeding, Jurgen Klopp opted to make a drastic first half tactical change, bringing in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Dejan Lovren, who had a horror-show of a match in Liverpool’s back line. That seemed to stabilize things for Liverpool, who were able to see more of the ball, earned a couple of corners, and counterpressed significantly more than they did in the opening half hour.
It looked for a while that the first half would end 2-1, but Spurs scored with the last kick of the first half. A Tottenham free kick was headed away by Joel Matip, but his clearance fell to Dele who was wide open at the top of the box. His bouncing shot went past Mignolet, and Spurs took a 3-1 advantage into the break.
Liverpool started the second half hoping their tactical tweak would do enough for them to pick up their second goal and make things interesting. And Spurs didn’t look quite as explosive to begin the second period as they did in the first half.
But that didn’t matter. Spurs got their fourth midway through the second half. Spurs earned a free kick on the right side of the box after a foul on Harry Kane. The free kick found Jan Vertonghen wide open on the left, but his shot was blocked away. The rebound fell right at Kane, who poked it home for his second goal of the evening.
But Liverpool did have a few chances. In the 67th minute, Hugo Lloris made a fantastic diving save to push a Coutinho blast. Hugo went full length to tip the ball off the crossbar and out, and it should go down as one of his best saves all season. Hugo also had a couple of good stops late in the second half as Liverpool looked desperate to score.
Moussa Sissoko eventually came in for Son, and Dier came on for Christian Eriksen. Just before time, Harry Kane was subbed off for Fernando Llorente; Kane walked off holding his hamstring, but looked unconcerned, and indications were that he had cramped up.
Spurs took their foot off the gas pedal up three goals, and cruised to the finish. The final score was 4-1.
xG map for Tottenham - Liverpool. Spurs destroyed Liverpool using Liverpool's tactics. pic.twitter.com/QDVbdBlI3f— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) October 22, 2017
- Well, that was fun! Spurs clearly intended to go straight at Liverpool’s defense by countering, and it worked perfectly. Kane’s strength and Son’s speed were wonderfully complimentary and Liverpool had no answer for the opening 30 minutes.
- Protip: if you have to tactically sub off one of your starting central defenders because he’s getting dismantled in the opening 15 minutes of the match, you probably should think about improving your overall defense. Dejan Lovren was terrible today, to Spurs’ direct benefit
- Lloris probably gets a hand to Salah’s goal if he rushes out at him. Instead he hung back and allowed Salah to poke the ball wide. A curious hesitation from Hugo to do the sweeper keeper thing. Otherwise, Hugo was magnificent.
- How important was that goal for Dele’s confidence? He needed that after a start to the season that has been somewhat un-Dele-ish. He was great in a deeper midfield role today.
- Jan Vertonghen is snake-bitten, it seems, but I really want him to score. Let’s make #GetJanAGoal trending.
- Today’s attendance — 76,098 the old record. More than 4k better today, and within 3,000 of the old First Division record of 83k (according to NBC? Not sure that’s right.)