For all their attacking flair, Liverpool on Sunday showed again that they have the ability to dig deep and grind out vital victories when things do not go to plan as they recovered from an early setback to beat Tottenham Hotspur.
With their English Premier League lead having been cut to three points by Manchester City on Saturday, there were a few worried looks on the Kop when Tottenham’s Harry Kane opened the scoring inside a minute at Anfield, but Liverpool never panicked, trusted the system and gradually turned the screw.
Second-half goals by captain Jordan Henderson and Mohamed Salah from the penalty spot ensured that Liverpool won 2-1, continuing their stunning start and fueling belief that this could finally be the season they end their long wait for a first title since 1989-1990.
Manager Juergen Klopp praised his side’s response to going behind so early against a team that, while not winning, have caused problems at Anfield.
“I told the boys at halftime, the only problem in this game so far is the result — apart from that, it’s good,” Klopp said. “We didn’t chase it, we just played it. Very often in football the result is the result of the performance and today it worked out. The performance was really super — really, really good. I liked it a lot. In a difficult game, being 1-0 down against Tottenham with the strength they have in counterattack is really tough, so the boys deserve a lot of credit for that today.”
It was the second week running Liverpool had trailed. The previous weekend they salvaged a 1-1 draw at Manchester United and it is that resilience that has become a hallmark of Klopp’s side.
In the past 10 home Premier League games in which they have conceded first, Liverpool have won seven and drawn three.
Henderson, who epitomizes Liverpool’s mentality, said the key is the determination of his teammates to keep improving.
“For us it’s all about the next game. That’s our focus,” Henderson said. “The reaction was fantastic from the lads and we deserved the three points. We are very critical of ourselves and always want to do better. The good thing is we keep winning games. There are still things we can improve on.”
Klopp played down injury worries over Salah, who was substituted late on, and Virgil van Dijk, who also took a knock.
“Virgil had a dead leg and Mo, it’s the ankle, the ankle he has struggled with since the Leicester [City] game,” he said. “It’s good, but the longer the game goes the muscles get a bit tired, stuff like this.”
Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino has seen his side fall into the bottom half of the table and his record against Liverpool since he took over in 2014 is one win in 16.
“I think we competed today, but maybe scoring so early we were just trying to defend,” said Pochettino, whose side are now 16 points behind Liverpool after 10 games. “In this season we deserve more points on the table. It’s a moment to stay strong, to keep pushing.”
Elsewhere, Manchester United won 3-1 at Norwich City, Arsenal were held 2-2 at home by Crystal Palace and Wolverhampton Wanderers rallied to claim a 1-1 draw at 10-man Newcastle United.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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