Premier League

BSSS Match Report: Liverpool 1, Tottenham 0 — Reds at 61 points, most in Europe’s Big Five leagues after 21 matches

All you need to know about Liverpool’s 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League Saturday in quickie form, complete with Bay State Soccer Sentinel analysis and insight:

THE SKINNY

Liverpool flies to 61 points with sixth straight clean sheet: For the first time in the Premier League and the other four big European leagues, Liverpool became the quickest side to hit 61 points through 21 matches in the league thanks to its 1-nil win over Tottenham Hotspur in North London. The win marks Liverpool’s sixth consecutive clean sheet dating back to Dec. 7’s 3-nil win over Bournemouth, and the eighth clean sheet in the league for the Reds. On the flip side of things, Spurs are winless in their last three dating back to Boxing Day, and thanks to Sheffield United’s 1-0 win over West Ham and Wolves’ 1-1 draw to Newcastle, the loss drops Tottenham to eighth in the league.

Firmino opens the scoring: After a hard-fought first 35 minutes where both sides had opportunities — the Reds with a few more than the Tottenham — it was one of the hotter players in Liverpool’s squad in Roberto Firmino, and a marking mistake by Spurs, to break the deadlock. He took Mo Salah’s pass, eased past a flat-footed Japhet Tanganga, and left-footed it into the net. Six minutes later, Salah was a few feet from making it 2-nil.

A lively start: It was certainly a first half every fan wants to see, beautiful football as both offenses tried to find holes in the opposing defenses. Early shots by Lucas Moura and Son Heung-min were just off-target for Spurs, while Firmino and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain missed scoring by razor-thin margins. The best chance, through, came from Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk, whose half-volley from close range had Spurs goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga making the stop in the 23rd minute.

Spurs show teeth in the second half: Five distinct scoring moments for the Tottenham in the second 45, as Serge Aurier, Son, Erik Lamela, and Giovani Lo Celso each had tries in the attacking third; two of those went straight at Liverpool keeper Allison.

WHO’S HOT

Roberto Firmino, Liverpool: Without a doubt, Firmino makes the list as he scored his third goal in four league matches.

WHO’S NOT

Son Heung-min, Tottenham: He had a pair of gilt-edged chances to level the score for Spurs, but he could not find the back of the net.

LET’S TALK ABOUT STATS, BABY

Virgil Van Dijk has now started 72 consecutive Premier League matches for Liverpool.

Liverpool had 67.2 percent possession for the match.

Spurs with 39 clearances.

Only four shots on target for the Tottenham.

Liverpool had 951 touches on the ball.

Saturday is Liverpool’s fourth consecutive win over Spurs.

WHAT SWEENS REALLY THINKS RIGHT NOW

Has anyone started doing square pools with the month of March as the target date for when Liverpool will officially clinch the Premier League title? I mean right now, it’s pretty much a certainty that they will: with a 16-point gap on Leicester City at the moment and a match in-hand thanks to the Club World Cup, the Reds shouldn’t be able to drop that many points. And Liverpool’s fixtures from here on out, with the exception of Manchester United and Wolves in the next two weeks, are against clubs in the lower half of the table until April 4, when it goes to the City of Manchester Stadium.

THEY SAID IT

“It was very hard-fought because we didn’t close the game down early. We should have been one or 2-0 up already when we scored. If you have quality opponent like Tottenham and you don’t close the game they will come back. Allison makes things look easy. It is not what we would have wanted. It is intense, you lose the ball and you are facing one of the best counter-attacking sides.” — Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp

“This is football. Sometimes you get more than you deserve. Sometimes you get less. This was an occasion when we got nothing when we deserved something. This is the best team in the world against a team in a difficult moment, with injuries, in a difficult part of the season. The boys were fantastic when we tried to change and create problems.” — Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho

ON TAP

Liverpool host Manchester United, who scored a 4-nil with over cellar dwellers Norwich City Saturday, on January 19, while Spurs travel to Watford on Jan. 18.

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