A top of the table clash including a Jose Mourinho side only ever has one pattern to it and in recent years it doesn’t go so well for him.
That continued once again on Wednesday night as Tottenham travelled up to Anfield and were beaten 2-1 by Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side thanks to an injury-time header from Roberto Firmino.
The Reds took an early lead when Mohammed Salah had a strike on the edge of the box deflected, which looped over Hugo Lloris in goal. Against the run of play though, Spurs were able to equalise when Giovani Lo Celso broke the lines and played a wonderful through ball to Heung-Min Son, who slotted the ball past Alisson when put through one on one.
In the second half Tottenham missed three big chances, as Steven Bergwijn dragged a shot wide before slotting a second attempt past Alisson but into the base of the post. Minutes later a corner found Harry Kane unmarked in the six-yard box but he headed the ball into the ground and it bounced over the bar.
Liverpool took over from there but struggled to break Mourinho’s side down for the most part, until Firmino struck in injury time. Andy Robertson whipped in a corner and the Brazilian lost his marker before guiding a bullet header into the top corner to hand the champions all three points.
It marked a first defeat in the Premier League for Tottenham since the opening day of the season when they were beaten by Everton, although the performance wasn’t as bad.
It was clear from the off what Mourinho wanted to do. They set up with a flat 4-4-2 in the first half, with Sissoko on the right to track Robertson while Lo Celso played centrally with Hojbjerg and Bergwijn started on the left. All 11 players were in their own half and the plan was simply to frustrate Liverpool and hit them on the counter.
Klopp’s side though are built for exactly that type of game these days. They kept the ball, stayed patient and worked openings throughout the game. While there was an element of luck about their opening goal, when you have 76% possession of the ball you’re far more likely to have luck fall your way.
It’s no coincidence in the second half Spurs looked more dangerous when they began playing on the front foot more, when they missed their key chances.
With Liverpool’s injury problems mounting and Mourinho having his entire squad at his disposal, it felt like a game where the best form of defence may have been to attack.
Liverpool showed their weakness against Fulham when the London club were direct with pace at the weekend and Spurs could have done something similar. Instead, Mourinho reverted to type and tried to contain them and invited the best team in the country to attack his side for 90 minutes.
Not only did Liverpool take the three points, but they took sole possession of top spot in the Premier League once again.
Mourinho’s big game tactics have let him down again and now he needs to start the chase once more, rather than leading the race from the front.