Harry Kane leads Tottenham to superb 4-1 win over Liverpool at Wembley
LONDON -- Three quick thoughts from Tottenham's commanding 4-1 win over Liverpool in Sunday's Premier League clash..
1. Spurs humiliate Liverpool at Wembley
Harry Kane scored twice as Tottenham inflicted a demoralising 4-1 defeat on Liverpool in front of the biggest-ever Premier League attendance at Wembley. The victory moves Mauricio Pochettino's Spurs level on points with second-place Manchester United ahead of their encounter at Old Trafford next Saturday in a game that is likely to reveal which team is most likely to pose the greatest challenge to Manchester City in this season's title race.
But while Spurs continued their impressive form, just five days after earning a 1-1 Champions League draw against Real Madrid in Spain, Liverpool have now won just once in the Premier League since crushing Arsenal 4-0 at Anfield two months ago.
It was the same old story for Liverpool in terms of defensive mistakes gifting goals and points to the opposition. Three of Tottenham's four goals were a result of individual Liverpool errors, ensuring that Mohamed Salah's first-half goal, which reduced the arrears to 2-1 at that point, meant little in the final reckoning.
The defeat saw Liverpool drop to ninth, below Burnley on goal difference and 12 points adrift of leaders Man City, rendering their faint title hopes as good as over at this early stage of the season. It is a different story for Tottenham, though, with Pochettino's players now over their initial Wembley problems and showing signs of being able to challenge City for the title.
Spurs must close a five-point gap on Pep Guardiola's team but the two clubs have yet to meet this season and a victory at Old Trafford next Saturday will confirm Tottenham as the biggest threat to City.
2. Liverpool's defending is getting worse
It is perhaps no surprise that Jurgen Klopp was a striker before becoming a centre-half during his playing career with Mainz in Germany. Having started out as a forward, Klopp's instincts are certainly not those of a defender and that is being borne out on an almost weekly basis by the erratic defensive performances of his team.
Liverpool now have the defensive record away from home in the Premier League, with bottom club Crystal Palace have conceded fewer than a team that is expected to challenge for the title. But the shambolic nature of Tottenham's first two goals at Wembley showcased everything that is wrong with Liverpool's defending right now and the personnel involved.
Dejan Lovren was all at sea for both goals, with terrible lapses of concentration and poor judgement opening the door for Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son to score. Kane's goal, Tottenham's first, was also down to goalkeeper Simon Mignolet's unconvincing attempt to claim the ball -- and Mignolet was clearly at fault for Tottenham's fourth -- but Lovren was guilty of the first mistake for both goals and it was a brutal but correct decision by Klopp to substitute the Croatia international after 31 minutes in favour of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
That change saw Liverpool switch to a back four but any system is only as good as the players asked to play it and Spurs scored a third through Dele Alli in first-half stoppage time after Joel Matip's weak clearing header was volleyed in by the England midfielder.
Klopp has now had two years at Anfield and the team are defending no better than they did in the final days of Brendan Rodgers. It is a recurring problem that they can't keep the ball out of the net and look no closer to sorting it out.
3. Son is Tottenham's secret weapon
Tottenham are blessed with one of the most potent attacking forces in Europe, but one player tends to slip under the radar when the plaudits are handed out. Everyone knows about Harry Kane's goals, Christian Eriksen's assists and Dele Alli's ability to arrive late and score, but Heung-Min Son regularly goes unnoticed.
The South Korea international forward has an enviable scoring record for Spurs, however, with his strike against Liverpool being his 19th goal in 40 Premier League starts since his £18 million arrival from Bayer Leverkusen two years ago. Son's pace is his main asset but he also possesses a ruthless finishing touch when he has a sight of goal. Against Liverpool, he started in the role just off Kane, with Alli deployed on the left of a midfield three and it was a tactical switch by Mauricio Pochettino that hurt Liverpool, especially early in the game.
Son's goal was another piece of impressive finishing but it is unlikely to raise his profile ahead of Kane, Eriksen and Alli any time soon. However, it's no bad thing to be underestimated and Son, who was replaced by Moussa Sissoko on 69 minutes, can continue to be Tottenham's secret weapon if the focus remains on his team's big three.
Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC. Follow him @MarkOgden_