Liverpool went top of the Barclays Premier League after brushing aside Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 at Anfield to underline further their title credentials.
After Chelsea and Manchester City dropped points on Saturday, the pressure was on Brendan Rodgers' side to take advantage and Liverpool did just that. Younes Kaboul's early own goal and Luis Suarez's 29th Barclays Premier League strike of the season, surpassing Robbie Fowler's club record of 28 set in 1995/96, put the home side in control at the break before Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson completed the scoring in the second half. The win earned hosts Liverpool an eighth straight league victory and sent them two points clear of Chelsea at the summit, while Tottenham remain sixth, four points behind Everton.
Rodgers called for cool heads in the build-up to the game and any nerves must have been eased immediately as Kaboul turned Glen Johnson's cross into his own net from close range. Michael Dawson, on in place of the injured Jan Vertonghen, made an error immediately after being introduced, Suarez taking advantage of his poor pass before firing low beyond Hugo Lloris. Coutinho added Liverpool's third goal with a low finish before Henderson's whipped free-kick evaded everyone and flew into the far corner.
Spurs showed little attacking threat, but it was their defensive errors that will have head coach Tim Sherwood most concerned. After mistakes in recent matches with Southampton and Chelsea, Liverpool ruthlessly exposed their deficiencies in extending their unbeaten league run to 13 matches.
Liverpool got off to a flying start, taking the lead through Kaboul's own goal in the second minute. Johnson sent in a low cross from the right and, after a slight deflection off Vertonghen, the Frenchman got his feet in a tangle and diverted the ball into the net from inside the six-yard box.
The visitors suffered a further setback midway through the half when they lost Vertonghen through injury, and his replacement Dawson's mistake led to Liverpool's second. In trying to lay the ball off to Kaboul, Dawson's pass allowed Suarez to get the better of the centre-half before racing clear and finishing across Lloris into the bottom right-hand corner.
Spurs responded brightly, Martin Skrtel blocking Christian Eriksen's effort before Simon Mignolet denied Roberto Soldado's curler. Another Spurs mistake almost put the game beyond doubt a minute later, Suarez seeing his back-post header brilliantly tipped onto the bar by Lloris after Kaboul had squandered possession to Raheem Sterling.
Liverpool wasted another chance in the 54th minute, Henderson failing to hit the target from 14 yards with just a defender on the line to beat. But Coutinho's goal rendered that miss irrelevant a minute later, the Brazilian firing past Lloris from 25 yards after advancing into space.
Lloris kept out Daniel Sturridge's impudent backheel after yet more hesitancy in the Spurs' backline, but Henderson's set-piece rounded off the scoring as Liverpool moved a step closer to a first league title since 1990.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers: "The dream is for our supporters, they want to win the title - but it is not in my thinking. My thinking it is to prepare the team and perform well and if we do that we can continue to win games and then we can see where that takes it.
“Today was as good an atmosphere as there has been. It is a monumental size of club and when we have that support behind us it is a real force and the supporters recognise how hard we are working and hopefully that takes us a long way."
"To perform like we did from the first whistle it was an immense performance and I am very proud of the them today. We are very confident with how we play, a lot was made the other night [against Sunderland] of us being anxious but that was not it.
Today Tottenham had a spell similar to Sunderland but the difference is we were 4-0 up today and not 2-1, but the confidence in how the players pass the ball, the intensity, they are very calm and focussed on the job and it was a wonderful team performance.
"It is credit to the players, the mentality in each game, we have shown over the course of the season the flexibility in the team - we have a played a 4-4-2 diamond in recent games today but today it was back to 4-3-3 but with two strikers up-field with one side open - so that is credit to them the flexibility and the ideas we have in games, but everyone knows their job and when to press."
“Our next job, and my next job, is to analyse West Ham [Liverpool's next opponents] and that is our focus. We have won eight games in a row and we are enjoying it, we will just enjoy it as it is a fantastic performance and now we just concentrate on the victory and concentrate on next week's game."
Spurs head coach Tim Sherwood: "The game was finished after two mistakes. You can make all the best planning but when you make mistakes so early, we thought the longer we stayed in the game the better for us, but it is finished in two minutes and we try and get back but they are a good side and they took a lot of belief from the first goal as everyone always does, the first goal is important but we were beaten by the better side today. Anyone can make errors it is just a shame we get punished as we did.
"It is not good, obviously we have to put it right we have six games left - not against top-four teams, but we have to try and win those. But we have to look at it - we don't seem to have problem with teams outside, perhaps it is a belief thing but a lot of these teams are better than us and today Liverpool were better than us."
"It is going to be a long week, as we play Monday [against Sunderland] but we have to dust ourselves down but we are sick tonight. [Fourth place] is never gone until it is gone but it is looking distant."
|06 Apr 2014||v West Ham (A)|
|13 Apr 2014||v Man City (H)|
|20 Apr 2014||v Norwich (A)|
|27 Apr 2014||v Chelsea (H)|
|05 May 2014||v Crystal Palace (A)|
|11 May 2014||v Newcastle (H)|