I vaguely remember a time when trips to White Hart Lane made me itchy. It seemed like Liverpool never won there, and could barely get a point. One of Roy Hodgson's most infuriating results was a Paul Konechesky's inspired full body dry heave and it felt like at that moment I totally gave up. The only victory I could remember there for my entire time as a supporter was a Luis Garcia strike in just about the most abhorrent conditions I've seen on a Boxing Day way long ago.
Obviously, that's no more. There was some nervousness with this one, as after losing to City on Monday and the hyperbolic nature of the reactions to any one result, that if Liverpool were turned over by new-look Spurs then that would certainly mean all progress was stopped. Good thing I don't have to worry about hearing that, and neither do you. I suppose most will be happiest about the clean sheet that was finally kept. But the performance, even with periods of wobbling against what can be a pretty vibrant Spurs side, is enough to make all of us smile. Inventive, pacey, dangerous, and assured. It felt like the team didn't let Monday's result lower their belief at all.
Let's do some bullets, shall we?
-All eyes were on Mario Balotelli, and it's not too surprising that in his debut he showed a higher effort level than we are used to seeing from him. That's probably what infuriates so many, because when he is active he's got the strength and touch to simply tear defenses apart. There were a couple chances he should have buried, a couple runs into blind alleys, but there were also a couple touches and passes that make you unable to wait for when he has a better understanding with his teammates. It was a good break from the gate, let's say.
Still, if Rodgers plans on playing Sturridge and Balotelli together, where do Lallana, Markovic, Coutinho and everyone else fit?
-Even as he was causing fissures and eruptions from the middle of midfield last year, I was unconvinced that Raheem Sterling was a long-term answer as the sharp point of a midfield diamond. I'll probably have to rethink it. His close control and burst wriggles him out of so many jams and into space, and there may be no more exciting player in the league when in open space and the ball at his feet than Sterling. His passing has improved by a factor of six since he first burst onto the scene. He'll still biff a final ball or shot (hello, chance from four feet in 2nd half!), but not nearly as much as he used to. His finish was tougher than it looked, on his off-foot going away from goal and with not that much space at the near post. He didn't miss. We all mourned the loss of one of the best players in the world this summer, but give him two to three more years and might we say we have another one in Sterling?
-Daniel Sturridge's close control is obscene. And I don't think it's talked about enough, especially considering how much we watch Rooney's touch go brontosaurus often enough with England. Is anyone's better than Sturridge in England?
-That'll do, Alberto M. That'll do indeed.
-On the other side of defense, I wonder if Manquillo has any plans to give Glen Johnson is spot back. Doesn't look like it.
-Amazing that a clean sheet happens when Martin Skrtel isn't around. Not that Dejean Lovren inspires total confidence. Whereas Skrtel's errors stem from hesitancy at times, Lovren's are the opposite problem. He wants to be everywhere at every time, even when he ends up marking his partner's man. A couple times saw Sahko and Lovren go for the same ball, so communication is a problem. But it did break down the barrier for Rodgers of playing two left-footers in central defense. Sadly, it came too late to save Daniel Agger (which we're going to regret). I'll reserve judgement until Lovren has a fair amount of time to strike up an understanding with both Sakho and Skrtel.
-Most weeks I think I can't love Jordan Henderson more, and then I watch the next game and know that was wrong. There is no limit, really.