Five talking points from Tottenham's dramatic 2-2 draw at Liverpool

Harry Kane scores his side’s second goal deep into injury time
Harry Kane scores his side’s second goal deep into injury time

Tottenham twice came from behind to claim a 2-2 draw at Anfield, with goals from Victor Wanyama and Harry Kane cancelling out Mohamed Salah’s double. Here are five talking points:

  1. Mauricio Pochettino adopts an aggressive approach again

Last season in this fixture the Argentinian’s insistence on employing his usual, attacking approach backfired as Sadio Mane raced through Spurs’ high defensive line to score twice in the opening 18 minutes and secure a 2-0 win for the hosts.

Nonetheless, Pochettino again refused to take a backward step today. Instead, he switched from his normal 4-2-3-1 system to 4-4-2, deploying Heung-Min Son up front alongside Harry Kane.

The intention was clearly to get at Liverpool’s vulnerable defence – a defence that shipped four goals in Spurs’ 4-1 victory at Wembley earlier in the season.

AS IT HAPPENED: Liverpool v Tottenham

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However, it forced Pochettino to make alterations in other areas. Refusing to sacrifice any of the players who started Wednesday’s 2-0 home win over Manchester United, he adopted a midfield diamond.

It didn’t get the best out of his midfielders in the first half. Eric Dier was, unusually, stationed on the right side, slightly ahead of Mousa Dembele, while Dele Alli’s influence was limited by his position on the left.

The system also left Tottenham too narrow when they were defending. Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold got plenty of space when he came forward, allowing him to pick out Roberto Firmino with a particularly dangerous cross.

At half time, trailing 1-0, it seemed Pochettino had once again been too gutsy and ambitious away against a top-six rival, leaving his side too open.

But he stuck to his plan and, as the second period wore on, Spurs got on top and became more and more threatening. Son squandered a particularly good chance after being played in one on one against Loris Karius.

Drama ensued as Spurs equalised, missed a penalty, fell behind and levelled again from another spot-kick at the death.

But, in the end, Pochettino will probably feel his tactics were vindicated. After all, his side had 66 per cent of the possession, more shots on goal (13 to nine) and twice as many attempts on target (six to three).

Had Harry Kane scored his first penalty, Spurs may well have won.

Kane celebrates his late equaliser to silence the Kop
Kane celebrates his late equaliser to silence the Kop
  1. Dier makes another costly gaffe in one of Tottenham’s toughest fixtures

Spurs had benefited from a rapid start in their previous outing against United, taking the lead after just 11 seconds. Today they gave Liverpool a similarly quick headstart, falling behind in just the third minute.

The setback had little to do with Pochettino’s tactics, even if they were brave. The Lilywhites seemed to have dealt with the danger when they halted the initial attack – but Dier prodded the loose ball backwards between his centre-backs to free Liverpool’s most dangerous player, Salah, who duly finished past Hugo Lloris.

It was a damaging individual error from Dier – not for the first time this season.

At Old Trafford in October the 24-year-old allowed Anthony Martial to steal in behind him and score the late winner. Then, at the Etihad in December, a horrible mistake gave Raheem Sterling a clear run at goal and gifted Manchester City their fourth goal.

In games such as these it is vital to concentrate from the first minute to the last, and Dier in particular has been found wanting in that department too often this term.

  1. Substitutes make an impact

One of the criticisms of Pochettino is that he often waits too long to make changes, and that the players he introduces rarely have an effect.

The second aspect is not necessarily his fault – players need to make things happen themselves. But, either way, his reserves certainly made an impact against Liverpool.

Victor Wanyama came on in the 79th minute and immediately scored a long-range screamer to level the scores at 1-1. Then, when Spurs fell behind again in injury time, it was the other two substitutes – Fernando Llorente and Erik Lamela – who earned the visitors their late penalty, with the Spaniard flicking a throw-in on to the Argentinian, who was kicked in the back by Virgil van Dijk.

This was a day when Spurs seemed to have real strength in depth. Harry Winks was on the bench, having been out of action with an ankle problem since Boxing Day, and Pochettino also had Michel Vorm, Serge Aurier and Moussa Sissoko as options.

With Danny Rose, Toby Alderweireld and new signing Lucas Moura also close to being available, Pochettino will soon have a headache deciding who to omit from his 18-man squads.

Meanwhile, it was encouraging to see Dembele starting his third match in the space of eight days.

Given his injury record, it has generally been accepted that the Belgian’s game time has to be carefully managed, but he has started the last six matches and rediscovered some much-needed consistency.

  1. Harry Kane shows his character

The Tottenham striker doesn’t always seem to enjoy having a strike partner, and he was generally quieter than usual against Liverpool. But, when he won a penalty with the scores tied at 1-1 in the final 10 minutes of normal time, few doubted the outcome.

With a valuable victory at Anfield and an historic 100th Premier League goal firmly in his sights, Kane seemed certain to score with customary ease – but he missed, sending a tame effort straight down the middle of the goal at Karius.

His agony only increased as Salah struck at the other end to put Liverpool 2-1 ahead. But, in the final minute of injury time, Kane was given a shot at redemption – another penalty.

Some players would have handed the ball to a team-mate, their head spinning after their previous failure and amidst the drama unfolding around them.

But not Kane, and this time he made no mistake, securing a deserved point for Spurs and becoming the second quickest player to reach a century of Premier League goals. That is true character.

  1. Spurs halt their losing run away against top-six rivals

Tottenham have lost at Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City this season, and they were moments away from suffering a defeat at Liverpool too, but in the end they salvaged a draw.

Their record in these fixtures is still not great. Under Pochettino, the Lilywhites have only won one of their 19 trips to the Etihad, Old Trafford, Anfield, Stamford Bridge and the Emirates, while losing 11 times.

But this draw is perfectly creditable and useful, taking Spurs within one point of the top four – even if fourth-placed Chelsea have a game in hand at Watford on Monday night.

Tottenham are in the midst of a crucial run of top-flight fixtures against United, Liverpool and Arsenal – and four points from a possible six is pretty good going.

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