Tottenham Hotspur vs. Liverpool: 5 Things We Learned
Liverpool's resounding 5-0 victory at Tottenham in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon was simply sensational.
At the start of a difficult run of games for the Reds over the festive period, Brendan Rodgers' side started perfectly, sweeping aside Andre Villas-Boas' shell-shocked Tottenham.
Liverpool's tenth win of the season, along with Luis Suarez's 16th and 17th goals of the campaign, put the Reds in the driving seat to join the title race.
Raheem Sterling produced an outstanding performance, especially in the first half, to prove that he is growing into a very exciting player indeed.
Jordan Henderson was undoubtedly Liverpool's man of the match, contributing to the side's organisation and attacking drives.
However, whilst Jon Flanagan got himself an exquisitely taken goal, there were moments he was left exposed at the back—is he the long-term solution to Liverpool's left-back problems?
All these superlatives without Daniel Sturridge and captain Steven Gerrard. Liverpool certainly proved they can beat the opposition with the resources they have deeper in the squad.
Liverpool Can Be in the Title Race If They Want to Be
Despite Liverpool's excellent first half of the season, doubts have remained as to whether the Reds have the edge to out manoeuvre their fellow Champions League place contenders.
Sunday's emphatic victory at White Hart Lane proved they can beat the big teams.
Much will be made of Tottenham's under-par performance—but take nothing away from Liverpool; it was a near-perfect display from Rodgers' men.
The result means Liverpool can go atop the Premier League with a victory at home over Cardiff City next week, and if they avoid defeat at Chelsea and Man City post-Christmas, the Reds could be firmly top by the turn of the year.
It's in Liverpool's hands as to whether they compete for the title or not.
Shrewd adjustments in the January transfer window could perfect an already exciting squad, with confidence soaring.
Raheem Sterling Is Growing in Confidence
Sterling arguably had his most impressive game for Liverpool so far, being the catalyst to drive the Reds into a comfortable 2-0 lead by halftime.
He showed strength, speed and intelligence to make dangerous runs in from the right flank and was very worthy of his goal late on.
He constantly chased down loose balls and closed in on Tottenham midfielders, denying the home side any space with his relentless energy.
England manager Roy Hodgson was watching on as Sterling ran rings around the Spurs defence. A call-up to next year's World Cup could do his career a world of good.
Jordan Henderson Is Key to Liverpool's Attacks
Henderson's athleticism and hunger to chase balls down paid dividends for Liverpool.
Having established himself as a first-team regular this season, Henderson played an integral role in Liverpool's attacks throughout the game.
His work rate to win the ball and lay it off to Suarez for the first of the day was simply sensational.
Likewise for Liverpool's second, not giving up despite seeing both his and Suarez's efforts saved culminated in a sweetly struck volley from the former Sunderland midfielder.
Being allowed a role to move in between midfield and attack suits Henderson and makes Liverpool a more organised outfit.
Jon Flanagan Isn't Liverpool's Left-Back Solution
In a television interview with Sky Sports after the match, Rodgers joked, "Jon's up for the Ballon d'Or."
Indeed, you'd be hard-pressed to find a Liverpool fan who wasn't absolutely made up for the 20-year-old when he crashed home his volley for Liverpool's third goal of the afternoon.
But, Liverpool were very comfortable by then, playing against ten men in cruise control.
There were moments in the early stages of the second half in which Flanagan looked vulnerable.
In fairness to Flanagan, his vulnerabilities were largely down to being exposed in the left-back position.
Lacking left-sided support, the youngster became the target in a period of dangerous Tottenham pressure.
Despite becoming a regular fixture in the first-team lately, Rodgers will surely look to bolster his options in that area of his team.
It is a lot to put the pressure of defending the whole left side onto Flanagan's young shoulders. Jose Enrique's return from injury in February will also be a welcome option.
Liverpool Can Cope Without Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge
Without Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool haven't stopped scoring—14 goals in their last three games.
The extra space and freedom for Suarez has been something the Uruguayan has relished. He's found himself in the form of his life.
Life without Steven Gerrard, albeit temporarily, began against Tottenham, and Lucas Leiva came back into the side to produce a solid performance.
Lucas knows this run of games without Gerrard is possibly his last chance to prove to Rodgers that he is worthy of a future at Liverpool. Against Tottenham, he worked well with Joe Allen in central midfield.
With no captain or vice captain in the starting 11, several players stepped up to provide leadership expertise.
Henderson, in particular, looked in control of the game and his teammates around him; though, Suarez took the captain's armband.