Liverpool won convincingly against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane in Brendan Rodgers’ 100th game as Liverpool manager
The game finished in a 3-0 scoreline, with goals from Raheem Sterling, Steven Gerrard (penalty) and new boy Alberto Moreno.
Mario Balotelli started the game for the Reds and could have scored as early as in the third minute. He was substituted at the hour mark and looked good on his debut, albeit unable to convert from five attempts. What was especially impressive from the Italian was the way his work rate and the manner in which he was tracking back.
Brendan Rodgers was happy with the debutante, and spoke highly of the player at the end of the game. He said, “I thought he was excellent. He’s bought straight into our team ethic. He’s trained well and has put all that background noise about him to one side. He’s been brilliant. You’ve seen his appetite today, his work, pressure, strength and quality. He has a wonderful touch for a big guy.”
Steven Gerrard took a penalty and successfully converted it. Since the arrival of Rickie Lambert and now Mario Balotelli, there has been doubts over who would take the spot-kicks for the Reds, since all three players are good at it. Rodgers has insisted in the past that Gerrard would continue that responsibility. The 34 year hailed the Italian after a ‘terrific’ debut and said that he would get his penalty taking chances later in the season.
“Everyone had eyes on him and I thought he was terrific for an hour. He could be the difference regarding whether we can compete or not. He has been terrific since he came in. He works hard and he will only improve with a manager like Brendan Rodgers. I am aware he is a terrific penalty taker, I am sure he will get the chances over the season. The more good penalty takers we have the better, especially for cup competitions”, said Gerrard.
Raheem Sterling was awarded the man of the match after putting on a great performance. The 19 year old scored the opener for the Reds. He also missed a shocker, as he exquisitely bullied the Tottenham defence but capped that off with a timid finish.
Brendan Rodgers spoke highly of Sterling but joked about his miss, “He was exceptional today. But I had to laugh when he almost scored the fourth. He dribbled through the Spurs defence like Ricky Villa, but his finish was more like Ricky Gervais.”
Sterling played as a number 10 behind Sturridge and Balotelli and looked good in the playmaker’s position.
He said after the match, “[My role today] is different to something I have done but it is something I have to learn. Mario Balotelli and Daniel Sturridge up front is always a threat and I have just got to be in and around the area and be a threat.
“It’s good to bounce back with a win after a loss. We had to grind it out at the beginning but once we got the second goal we saw it out.
“My main target is to get a better goal to game ratio, improving on training pitch and taking that into matchday. My manager has been telling me to get inside the posts more, I timed my run and I found the net.”
Overall, Brendan Rodgers was pleased with his side’s performance. He said, “Everything that could be good in our game was there. We played the diamond in the first half and I thought we were a threat in-between the lines in midfield. Overall our quality was exceptional, we got three goals and could have had more. We closed the game out very well and all in all it was a good three points.”
Spurs didn’t look impressive in the game and failed to gain any command or momentum. Boss Mauricio Pochettino said that his side would need to improve from here on. He said, “We need to learn and improve – today was a very tough game for us. I think the first 45 minutes we competed very well and had some good chances. But the key moment came in the second half – it was a very soft penalty. When you are 2-0 down against Liverpool it is very difficult.”