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Five talking points as Tottenham demolished a shambolic Liverpool

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Tottenham

Both Liverpool and Tottenham enjoyed fine results in Champions League action in midweek, but it was the hosts who emerged victorious as a stunning start gave the Reds a mountain not to climb.

Two defensive errors from Dejan Lovren allowed Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son to give the Lilywhites a two goal lead in just 12 minutes. Mohamed Salah’s mishit effort pulled one back as Liverpool grew into the game, but Dele Alli’s strike on the stroke of half-time proved decisive.

Harry Kane’s second of the afternoon put the tie to bed early in the second half and Liverpool could not find another way through a stubborn Tottenham defence. Here are five talking points from the tie…

Far too late, Jurgen Klopp has realised that Dejan Lovren is a liability

In a humiliating moment, Dejan Lovren was dragged off in the first half in a tactical substitution. It could have been embarrassing for Lovren, but he’d already produced two far more humiliating moments to gift Tottenham a two goal lead inside the first quarter of an hour.

Joel Matip hardly covered himself in glory with a poor clearance which up Dele Alli and Simon Mignolet dropped yet another clanger to effectively seal a defeat when Harry Kane scored the fourth not long after the break. Klopp’s decisions not to sign a central defender in the summer looks more inexplicable with every game.

Tottenham are serious title contenders

Tottenham have well and truly put an end to the so called Wembley curse as they produced a superb display to follow up on being the better team against reigning Champions League winners Real Madrid in midweek.

With one of the world’s best shotstoppers in goal, a solid and reliable defensive unit, a midfield packed with creativity and the Premier League’s best striker, Manchester City should be looking over their shoulder in fear.

Liverpool lack any kind of Plan B

With the Reds struggling to find space between Tottenham’s three central defenders, they found life difficult. When Tottenham extended their lead in the final moments before half-time, it allowed them to sit back deep and the visitors looked even more hopeless.

Consistently reverting to playing the ball wide and looking to cross into the box, the deliveries were poor and Roberto Firmino barely won a header all afternoon. The only other option was to hope that Philippe Coutinho could notch from distance, which he almost did until Hugo Lloris intervened.

Dele Alli can play in a deeper role

With Moussa Dembele and Victor Wanyama out, Alli sat in a deeper midfield role as opposed to his usual advanced role just behind Harry Kane. However, the England midfielder excelled alongside Harry Winks.

Tracking back when required, he provided protection when Serge Aurier and Kieran Trippier were caught out by a rapid counter-attack and added solidity and experience beyond his years. With a well taken goal to add, it was arguably Alli’s best display this season.

It is all about consistency

Having failed to record back to back victories since August, Liverpool continue to lack any kind of rhythm which is what’s required to ensure a top four finish. Whilst they have previously excelled against their rivals at the top end of the table, they collapsed at Wembley.

Tottenham on the other hand, built on the positives from their midweek draw in Madrid and looked like the more confident of the two sides despite Liverpool’s thrashing of Maribor. That makes it 11 unbeaten in all competitions for Pochettino and co.

Sam is a football journalist focusing on English football at all levels and Spanish football. He also writes for Spain's biggest daily sports newspaper, MARCA, as well as The Boot Room. Find Sam on Twitter at @samleveridge.

Liverpool

Virgil van Dijk proving to be worth his price-tag, but must keep Cristiano Ronaldo quiet

Liverpool’s January recruit has been in fine form since his arrival at the club.

Mathew Coull

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Liverpool take on Real Madrid this weekend in the Champions League final in a highly anticipated game in Kiev. The fixture will see Jurgen Klopp’s side hope to capture an impressive title after an enthralling run to the final in which they have played some expansive attacking football.

But to beat Real Madrid they will also have to keep Los Merengues at bay. With one of the greatest to ever play the game in Cristiano Ronaldo among their attacking options, that is no easy feat.

For Liverpool, the key man could, therefore, be the one who has proven to be a massive improvement for the side since his January arrival.

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

The Reds paid Southampton a whopping fee of £75 million, as reported by the BBC. It was a price-tag called into question by many pundits and fans alike. However, the Dutchman has been in fine form since his arrival and added a genuine aura to the Liverpool back-line.

His aerial presence, speed and intelligence have all been demonstrated on a number of occasions as Liverpool’s defensive fragilities have been transformed since his arrival.

The impact he has had on Dejan Lovren cannot be understated. The Croatian looks to be back to something near his best since pairing with Van Dijk. His cool style on the ball and brilliant reading of the game has allowed Lovren to relax into his role and the pair make a good partnership.

(Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)

Against Ronaldo, all of Van Dijk’s best attributes will be tested.

The Portuguese attacker is still lightning quick, a monster in the air and his footballing brain is often unrivalled.

If Liverpool are to keep him quiet, it will rest largely on the shoulders of their £75 million winter investment.

It is these challenges that forced Van Dijk into pushing for his Southampton departure and he must ensure he is up to it this Saturday.

If he can keep Ronaldo quiet and Liverpool win the Champions League, then that £75 million fee will no longer seem so astronomical.

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Liverpool

Liverpool target Besiktas’ Anderson Talisca would add superb attacking depth

The Brazilian has recorded 28 goal contributions in Turkey this season.

Max Cohen

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Anderson Talisca
Photo: Getty Images

After Besiktas’ 5-1 home win over Sivasspor on Saturday, manager Senol Gunes strongly hinted that star attacker Anderson Talisca would be joining Liverpool this summer.

The possible signing of the Brazilian midfielder would be a superb acquisition for Liverpool, adding depth and quality to the club’s star-studded attack.

According to FourFourTwo, the Besiktas manager confirmed Talisca would be leaving the Turkish club for the Premier League after two years on loan from Benfica.

And Gunes dropped a massive hint that put Liverpool as the possible frontrunners in attaining his signature ahead of Manchester United.

“He might be rivals with Cenk Tosun,” Gunes replied when asked about Talisca’s English destination.

Of course, former Besiktas striker Cenk Tosun plays for Everton– leading many to jump to the conclusion that Talisca is headed to Anfield instead of Old Trafford.

(Photo by Ozan Kose/Getty Images)

The signing would represent a strong statement of intent from the Reds, as Talisca has enjoyed a stunning two seasons at Besiktas and is a burgeoning attacking talent.

In 47 appearances this season, the 24-year-old was involved in an impressive 28 goals, scoring 20 and assisting eight.

And the Brazilian’s past form shows this fantastic season is not a one-off. In 2016/17, Talisca bagged 17 goals and six assists, despite only featuring 33 times in all competitions.

While some might argue that the Turkish Super Lig has a poorer defensive standard than the Premier League, Talisca has proven his worth in European competition as well. In his time at Besiktas, he has notched five Champions League goals, as well as two goals and four assists in the Europa League.

The Brazilian youth international would add impressive offensive depth for Liverpool, as the Reds look to seriously challenge for the Premier League next season.

The purchase of the prolific attacking midfielder would be an ideal first step in assembling a squad that could bring Anfield its first league trophy in over two decades.

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Champions League

Gareth Bale’s red-hot Real Madrid form should scare Liverpool

The Welshman has scored 11 goals in his last 15 appearances.

Max Cohen

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Gareth Bale
Photo: Getty Images

In Real Madrid’s final league match of this season on Saturday, Gareth Bale swept home a lovely right-footed finish to open the scoring against Villarreal.

That goal marked the Welshman’s 11th goal in his last 15 appearances for club and country; a remarkably prolific run of form that should scare Liverpool ahead of next weekend’s Champions League final.

Injury problems have marred much of Bale’s time at the Bernabeu, and he suffered a lengthy two-month absence from the first team this fall.

Yet, after returning from his injury lay-off, the former world-record signing has hit full form in the last two months.

In that time period, the winger has scored a hat-trick for Wales, braces against Las Palmas and Celta Vigo, and a crucial goal versus Barcelona.

This spring resurgence presents a worrying prospect for Liverpool’s defence, who already will have their hands full trying to keep Cristiano Ronaldo in check in Kiev.

(Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)

Add in Gareth Bale hitting full form, and suddenly the task at hand for Jurgen Klopp’s men appears far more difficult.

The 28-year-old also has quite the decorated history for los Blancos in cup finals. In his debut season for Real, Bale scored sensational winning goals in both the Copa del Rey and Champions League finals.

The following season in the European Cup final, the Welshman assisted Real Madrid’s sole goal and scored his penalty in the ensuing shoot-out; his cup final record is simply superb.

Combined with Bale’s recent tremendous goalscoring form, the prospect of facing up against the powerful winger might strike fear in the Liverpool backline.

But the Reds have proven adept in stifling some of the best attacks in Europe this season.

Liverpool famously restricted high-scoring Manchester City to just one goal over 180 minutes in the quarterfinals and the Reds will have to conjure up that heroic rearguard performance in order to stop the on-form Gareth Bale next weekend.

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