Two narratives played out on Sunday afternoon as Tottenham again fell behind in the first half, and Liverpool again beat Tottenham Hotspur.
In a story that is becoming all too familiar for Tottenham Hotspur fans, Spurs fell behind in the first half. However, unlike in our previous two matches, where Spurs came back to win 2-3, the comeback fell short, and it was just another loss to Liverpool.
Tottenham is neither terrible nor good enough in the first half
This was not a match where Tottenham sat back the entire first half. Tottenham was looking to push forward with a high line in the back, which saw Eric Dier often pushing up past Emerson Royal on the wing.
The more open style of play left Tottenham a bit more stretched defensively, and Liverpool took advantage early to change the game’s complexion. Andrew Robertson had the room up the left flank to make it possible to get a good entry pass to Darwin Nunes in the box. As multiple Tottenham defenders looked to close on Darwin, he touched the ball square to Mo Salah, alone inside the penalty box.
Salah took a touch to pop the ball into the air and then rocketed a volley that left Hugo Lloris stone-footed as Liverpool took the early 0-1 lead in north London.
After falling behind, Spurs responded well, with Royal playing the ball forward to Harry Kane, who crossed to Ivan Perisic. Unfortunately for Tottenham, Perisic’s header was not clean, as the ball deflected off Alison and then the post.
Perisic, who started in place of the injured Heung-min Son, was good all day but never found that magic moment.
A disastrous moment for Dier and Spurs
The play that ultimately changed the game was another self-inflicted wound from Tottenham Hotspur. Alison played a long ball out from the back, aiming toward Salah. The ball was Dier’s to win as it was only Salah against three Tottenham defenders, which is when Dier biffed it hard.
More than 30 yards away from the goal, Dier decided to head the ball back to Hugo Lloris, a play well read by Salah. Whether it was Dier catching Salah in his line of sight or something else, his header was terrible, bounding off his shoulder and directly to the feet of the flashing Salah.
From that point, one-on-one with Lloris, Salah was in his world, and he cooly chipped over Lloris to give Liverpool a two-goal advantage.
Spurs were clearly out of sorts at this point in the game; Liverpool continued to press and pressure, with Firminho nearly forcing Lloris into a terrible mistake in the back. Fortunately, the Lilywhites held on until half-time to get the dressing down; they needed to play attacking football.