Liverpool confirmed their status as the most worthy Premier League title challengers to Manchester City as they beat Tottenham 2-1 at Wembley Stadium.
This day was supposed to be so different for Mauricio Pochettino. Fans will have had this fixture ringed for some time as their first visit to their new £850million stadium, but Liverpool were handed the chance to right some Wembley wrong’s after being torn apart here last season.
A year ago Tottenham had Dejan Lovren in a state after just four minutes, but this time around it was Spurs who nearly fell apart early on with the offside flag sparing blushes as James Milner’s cross – with a slight touch from Firmino – was allowed to sneak beyond Vorm and into the far corner.
Things were a lot easier for the Liverpool defence than a year ago. Of the back line only Joe Gomez started here at Wembley last season and they were largely untested with Lucas Moura struggling to fill the void left by Dele Alli despite his tireless efforts.
It wasn’t just Alli that Pochettino was dearly missing as Vorm proved insufficient cover for injured captain Hugo Lloris.
The Dutchman lacked conviction when rising to meet James Milner’s corner, leaving Eric Dier to clear up, his header though was met by Wijnaldium who, with assistance from the goaline technology, scored his first Premier League goal on the road, with Vorm just too late to it.
After Sadio Mane managed to get in behind Kieran Trippier, the Senegalese’s low cross should really have been dealt with by either the keeper or Jan Vertonghen at the near post. However, after Vertonghen’s block ricocheted back off the post, Firmino was left with half a yard to an open goal.
The heat at Wembley will have caused a couple of concerns for both managers in this early kick-off – but after a punishing summer for a lot of the players on show, neither side looked up to their usual level of intensity with the play from both rather predictable and passive.
Pochettino looked to Erik Lamela and the returning Asian Games winner Heung-min Son to add some zip but neither could turn the game in Tottenham’s favour.
In the third minute of five added on, the Argentina found space at the far post from a corner and, after teeing himself up by popping the ball into the air, fired a fantastically placed low volley across Alisson and into the far corner.
Son had a late penalty claim denied but there was no comeback from the north Londoners – one which they would have never deserved.
For Jurgen Klopp it is a real statement of just how far this team have come since their last visit to the national stadium, but the German will not see this as the end of their journey, continuing to lambast his players in the final minutes following a fluffed chance from an unusually quiet Mohamed Salah.
Further comfort to Klopp, though, will be that we still haven’t seen his side at their rampant best. Five games, five wins and their yet to get up to any sort of speed.