For Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool, the victories keep on coming, the records tumbling and it is becoming increasingly difficult to see their progress towards a first league title in 30 years as anything other than a foregone conclusion.
Roberto Firmino made the difference on an occasion marked by dramatic plotlines, with the Brazilian’s goal towards the end of a first-half that Liverpool controlled following a moment when his mind and body were in glorious high-speed sync.
A few numbers. Liverpool has now gone 38 league matches without defeat – the equivalent of an entire season – and their return of 61 points from a possible 63 since the beginning of this one represents the best-ever start to a campaign by any club in any of Europe’s top five divisions. They are a whopping 16 points clear at the top of the table – with a game in hand on second-placed Leicester.
Tottenham pushed them all the way and it might have been a different story had Son Heung-min or the substitute Giovani Lo Celso not fluffed their lines when wonderfully placed in the closing stages. The Lo Celso chance led José Mourinho to sink to his knees in disbelief. How had the midfielder missed the target when he had so much of it to aim for from Serge Aurier’s cross?
Spurs had entered the game in poor form and with a clutch of debilitating injuries, including the high-profile one to Harry Kane. They tried everything in tactical terms, they gave everything on a physical level and Mourinho was on solid ground when he argued that his team deserved something. Yet Liverpool has simply forgotten how to not win. They are coming to look invincible.
Firmino’s goal stemmed from the award of a controversial throw-in on the left flank, about which Mourinho was not slow to complain, but the Spurs manager did acknowledge that his players had to do more to defend it, particularly as they had practiced doing so all week. Jordan Henderson threw himself at the ball – VAR would confirm that he did not use his hand – and, when Mohamed Salah found Firmino, the striker did the rest. He allowed the ball to run across his body to deceive the 20-year-old Spurs league debutant, Japhet Tanganga, who had lunged in, before setting up the left-foot finish in the same explosive movement.