The Liverpool bandwagon is gathering pace.
Their best start to a league season since 1990 continued as they passed their biggest examination so far. Tottenham at Wembley? Completed it, mate.
On Friday, Jurgen Klopp had spoken of the Reds’ last visit here, 11 months ago, and how that 4-1 defeat had acted as “a wake-up call” to his side. There was another one here, only it’s Liverpool’s rivals who should be listening to it.
Tottenham, a team with Premier League aspirations of their own, had hoped to provide a reality check here. Instead, we got further evidence that Liverpool are to be considered genuine contenders this season. They’re winning, they’re top of the league, and they’re nowhere near their best yet.
Their 2-1 win could and should have been more, but it will do at the start of a hectic three weeks for Klopp’s men. Big tests lie ahead in three competitions over the next 23 days, but they look ready for them. They look like a proper team.
Two scruffy goals did the damage here, Gini Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino finishing off untidy scrambles in the Spurs box. A neat synopsis of Liverpool’s season, in many ways; not always beautiful, but mighty effective. They’re doing enough, home and away.
Spurs played their part here, turning in an error-strewn performance which had their supporters bewildered. Liverpool, for the most part, coped comfortably in second gear with Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and co, and then caused problem after problem when their own attacking stars were set free. The late drama provided by Erik Lamela’s well-taken strike was unnecessary, but not costly.
Firmino shone brightest, the Brazilian back to his best leading the line, keeping possession intelligently, working the channels and bringing others into play. How Liverpool will hope the injury which forced him off 20 minutes from time is not a bad one. Their No.9 really is irreplaceable.
Wijnaldum, the man for the big occasion, had started the party late in the first half. The Dutchman doesn’t get too many goals these days – just nine in total for Liverpool – but when he does score they tend to be important. Spurs fell victim, just as Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Roma have in the past. His looping header, after a Michel Vorm flap and a Kieran Trippier clearance, was both smart and important. The game had, to that point, had little in it.
Elsewhere there were dominant performances from Virgil van Dijk and, a sloppy minute or so aside, from Joe Gomez at the back. Liverpool have conceded just twice in five games this season, their joint-best start to a campaign defensively since 1978-79. Alisson Becker could have nipped out for a hot dog, had he wanted to. The Brazilian barely had a save to make, so well protected was he by his backline, though he will have been frustrated to see Lamela’s strike fly past him.
Liverpool’s record away to their ‘big six’ rivals last season was worrying; no wins, four defeats and 15 goals conceded. Klopp knew it would need to improve this season if his side were to close the gap at the top of the table. Job done, and then some. Indeed, Tottenham faced 10 shots on target in a Premier League home game for the first time since January 2014 against Manchester City. And in truth, Liverpool were only ‘OK’ here, but they could have won by five or six.
The travelling Kop could be heard all the way back to Euston after this. And you can bet your life that Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Maurizio Sarri will have heard them too.
Premier League, you’ve been warned. Want to win it? You’ll need to finish above this lot, and on this evidence, it won’t be easy…