Prior to kick-off at White Hart Lane, all the talk was about the return of Mario Balotelli to the Premier League, and despite an impressive Liverpool debut, Raheem Sterling was the main man for the Reds. Balotelli looked a different player from his spell at Manchester City; he was still in the positions you wanted him to be and on another day would have grabbed a goal but his all-round play was superb. Holding the ball up and bringing other players into the game, he looked effective and was even helping out with his defensive duties. Sterling outshone him, though. With the ball at his feet, the Liverpool winger glided into space and took his goal well. Playing in the hole behind the two strikers, he was able to get on the ball and pull the strings. This could be a massive year for the England international.
Against the sides in the bottom half of the table last season, Tottenham generally did well but really struggled against the top-six sides in the league. With a new manager this season, it could be a different story but it doesn’t look that way on the basis of this result. After back-to-back wins against West Ham United and Queens Park Rangers, they would have been confident of a good result against Liverpool. In the end, though, they looked out of sorts at the back with the so far impressive Eric Dier struggling. Spurs were unable to break Liverpool down. Before Sunday, the Reds didn’t have a clean sheet in eight league matches but Tottenham had plenty of the ball and couldn’t do anything with it. If they really want to challenge for the Champions League spots, their performance against the better sides in the league need to improve.
Liverpool and Tottenham are the front-runners to compete for fourth spot this season. On Sunday’s evidence, it will certainly be Liverpool leading the race for that spot. The loss of Luis Suarez did not seem to have had any effect at all on the Reds, and if they can produce more performances like the one at White Hart Lane, they will be right up there in May. Tottenham, though, still have a lot of work to do. Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela didn’t look like the creative players to fire Spurs into the top four and they ran out of ideas very quickly. With the transfer window yet to slam shut, there should be more incomings if Tottenham are to have any realistic chance of getting back on Europe’s top table.
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