In an effort to not regurgitate the obvious, there are multiple ways of playing the game. Spur’s boss Antonio Conte sought the plan he thought best for him to match his opponents for this game.
With dreams of the perfect season, Liverpool had little choice but to take all three points versus Tottenham Hotspurs if they were to truly keep pace with Manchester City in the race for the title.
An impressive team display earned Tottenham a 1-1 draw at Anfield on Saturday, a result that temporarily put Liverpool atop the Premier League on goal difference. But as the end of the campaign nears, it may soon be known as the day the title slipped away.
Sunday’s victory at home to Newcastle saw City reap the benefits of a comfortable three-point lead at the summit of the Premier League table. Klopp and Liverpool now need City to drop points in their remaining three games. A strategy now piloted by hope, and hope is not a strategy.
Should the predicted point(s) trajectory stand, Liverpool’s hopes of becoming the first team to successfully win the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, and League Cup may be smothered come City’s final game against West Ham.
Arriving on the back of 13 wins in their last 14 league games, Liverpool were firm favourites to beat a Spurs team challenging for their place amongst the top four. A resolute Spurs Wall saw Liverpool’s dominance in possession inadequate, with their attacks never truly reaching fruition.
The Rising SON
Antonio Conte has minted a formidable career in finding equilibrium between defensive soundness, paired with an electric counter-attacking flow. An ideology that proved fruitful 10 minutes into the second half at Merseyside.
A quick counter up the field saw Harry Kane find the effervescent Ryan Sessegnon free down Liverpool’s left, who calmly squared for Son to tap home.
Son’s delicate finish earned him his 20th league goal of the season. He’s the only player within the Golden Boot race to reach this mark without penalties. Gareth Bale being the only other Spurs player to previously reach this milestone.
Irrespective of Tottenham’s fluctuating performances this season, the South Korean superstar has proven once again he is among the elites of the Premier league.
An unfortunate deflected strike from Luis Diaz 15 minutes from time saw an inevitable push at goal from Liverpool for a late winner. Efforts that left Klopp bewildered and irritable.
“To have a good result was positive,”
“On the other hand, I think maybe we have to be a bit disappointed. I have seen, in the eyes of my players, disappointment because we had the chance to win the game.”Antonio Conte
A reflective Son hinted at Liverpool being “one of the toughest games” he’d ever played, explaining the need for a more defensive approach.
“Liverpool is one of the best teams in the world at the moment, so sometimes we need to defend.”
“We did well today, this was our game plan.”Son Heung-min
‘I don’t like this kind of football’
Jurgen Klopp’s assessment of the game was a stark contrast to that of Conte’s, who slammed Spurs’ philosophical approach.
Klopp criticised the move as being “not me.”
“I am sorry, I am the wrong person to ask [about Spurs’ defending] because I don’t like this kind of football,”
“We play a world class team, they sit back … the game plan works for these games, but they are still 5th.
“They obviously work for everything, time wasting, these kind of things … smart, but it makes it not easier for us.
“Absolutely fine, it’s just I can’t. I respect everything they do. But it’s not me.”
“If you ask me, my favourite situation would be if it stays like this, on the same points total because City and us lose the rest of the games in the Premier League,” Klopp said.
“That would be great. But we all know this is not going to happen.”Jurgen Klopp
Antonio Conte on Jurgen Klopp’s tactical comment
“He can say what he wants. We played how we had to play. It is naive to think there is ever a way football ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ be played.”
“My players did their job. His players didn’t. I am very proud.”Antonio Conte
Talking the way Klopp did simply doesn’t reflect well on him, and only raises questions about whether the pressure is starting to visibly get to him.
It may not be fun to play against this type of football, but Conte has been given a job to do, and did what he deemed necessary.