Tottenham make 'perfect start' to defining month in their season

Tottenham make 'perfect start' to defining month in their season

Liverpool will realise after losing 4-1 at Wembley that they are out of the title race - they are simply not good enough.Tottenham, by contrast, seem to be getting better and better.This current Spurs team have not won anything yet but their Champions League draw at the Bernabeu on Tuesday was like a trophy for them, and maybe against Liverpool we saw the added confidence they have after matching Real Madrid.
Sunday's victory was only the second time Spurs had won at Wembley in the league but, right from the beginning of the game, everything about the performance and atmosphere seemed different.
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Mauricio Pochettino pleased by 'fantastic performance'
It feels like Mauricio Pochettino's side are now over the problem of adjusting to their new home, and it was a perfect start to what will be a defining month for their season.They have a run of league fixtures that includes trips to Manchester United (on Saturday) and Arsenal (on 18 November), as well as Champions League matches against Real and Borussia Dortmund that will determine whether they make the knockout stages. They look like they are ready and in excellent shape.
Alli shows discipline and intelligence in deeper role

Dele Alli was asked to play a much deeper role against Liverpool (right) compared to Tottenham's previous league game against Bournemouth (left). Against the Cherries, only nine of his 53 touches were in his own half, he had eight touches in the opposition area and three shots. On Sunday he made 56 touches in total, with 38 of them coming in his own half. His only shot was also the only time he touched the ball in the Reds' area, and resulted in his side's third goal.One of the questions over Tottenham is whether their squad are strong enough to be successful on all fronts, but at the moment the signs are good - even with injuries to key players.Victor Wanyama (knee) and Moussa Dembele (hip) were unavailable on Sunday, and another of their established holding midfielders, Eric Dier, was ill and only well enough to come off the bench.Pochettino dealt with the problem by asking Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen to sit either side of Harry Winks, which gave a good shape to the team.Alli got through a lot of work, mainly on the left, in a deeper role than usual and demonstrated he has got a lot more to his game than just arriving late in the box to score.He realised what his manager was asking him to do and carried out those instructions brilliantly - with some really nice touches and passes, and hard work of course.

If England boss Gareth Southgate was watching, he would be thinking that maybe he can use Alli in a different way too, because he has got the lungs to get up and down the pitch, he is not frightened to put his foot in and he can also use the ball well from further back - such as when he sent Son Heung-min running clear in the first half.It seems Alli is growing in stature all the time and, for a young player to have that positional discipline and be willing to do a more defensive job, is a really positive thing.We are used to seeing him get behind defences by timing his runs into the box but, against Liverpool, he did not do that once.The only time he touched the ball in the Reds' area on Sunday was for his goal, and even that came from him hanging back from an Eriksen free-kick and waiting to meet Joel Matip's clearing header to volley home from just inside the penalty area.
'Kane is almost retiring defenders now'

Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren was substituted after 31 minutes at Wembley after mistakes led to two Tottenham goalsIt obviously helped Spurs that Harry Kane is in such irresistible form right now - and that Dejan Lovren did so badly at dealing with him on Sunday.I could not get my head round the way Lovren approached the game, because Kane has been so prolific recently.As a player, when I was facing an in-form striker like that, I would be really fired up to the point where I was at boiling point. I would know I could not switch off for a minute, because there is no way I was going to let him embarrass me.But Lovren was completely asleep for Tottenham's first goal and let Kane run in behind him. He then seemed too keen to make up for that in the build-up for their second, when he dived in to try to beat him a header on the halfway line, but missed and was left desperately out of position.Lovren was thinking that is how alert he should have been for the first goal but his reaction was the other extreme. He was like a stunt man, and it was as if someone had fired him out of a cannon.If you make mistakes like that, Kane will punish you - like he did with his finish to make it 1-0 or by picking out Son to make it 2-0. By then, it was almost game over.
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Tottenham Hotspur 4-1 Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp admits 'responsibility' for defeat
It shows how Kane is almost retiring defenders now. Lovren was hauled off and sitting on the bench soon after that, because he was not able to live with him.Kane is the main man for club and country at the moment but what I like is that he does not seem to be playing with any pressure on his shoulders. In fact, he seems to thrive on the expectation that he will score.He is getting plaudits from the top people throughout the game - like Real boss Zinedine Zidane, who this week called him "the complete player".But he is very level-headed and does not seem to be getting carried away with all the praise. He just carries on improving.To echo Zidane's words, Kane's display against Liverpool was one of the most complete performances I have seen from him, with the work he did for his team as well as what he did in front of goal.
Spurs defence provides platform

Harry Kane was in space inside the Liverpool six-yard box to follow up when Jan Vertonghen's shot was blocked following a Christian Eriksen free-kick. His two goals against the Reds mean he has scored 17 goals in 16 games for club and country this seasonWhen Kane got his second goal after half-time, I was alarmed by the lack of awareness of the Liverpool defence that he was that close to goal.He was unmarked and at no point did it look like any Liverpool player had said 'look, he's mine'.Kane got a bit lucky that the ball fell for him, but to give him that kind of space when he is that prolific is unforgivable.That is Liverpool's big problem: they have lots of possibilities going forwards, but their defence does not always keep them in games long enough.The Spurs defence, on the other hand, gives them a platform and has helped them to challenge for the title in the past two seasons. It is part of the reason they are third at the moment.

They are not flawless - against Liverpool, Serge Aurier was second-best a lot of the time against Mohamed Salah down Tottenham's left.But Aurier was always there to try to restrict him because Pochettino had a plan, whereas it did not seem like Liverpool had any idea at all about how to stop Kane.Martin Keown was speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan.
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