Liverpool cut down Spurs as Sterling outshines Balotelli
Reds serve warning to rivals, as unconvincing Arsenal slip against Leicester
Tottenham 0 Liverpool 3. Brendan Rodgers celebrated his 100th match as manager of Liverpool with a crushing defeat of Tottenham. Goals from Raheem Sterling, Steven Gerrard and Alberto Moreno sent the Reds up to fifth in the table while inflicting a first defeat of the season on their hosts.
"Everything that could be good in our game was there," said Rodgers. "We played the diamond in the first half and I thought we were a threat in-between the lines in midfield. Overall our quality was exceptional, we got three goals and could have had more. We closed the game out very well and all in all it was a good three points."
Prior to the match all eyes had been on Liverpool's new signing, Italian striker Mario Balotelli, who arrived at Anfield last week in a £16m move from AC Milan. But although the former Manchester City frontman started alongside Daniel Sturridge, he missed several chances and was substituted on the hour by Rodgers. Nonetheless the Liverpool manager had nothing but praise for Balotelli when asked to assess his debut. "I thought he was excellent," said Rodgers. "He's bought straight into our team ethic. He's trained well and has put all that background noise about him to one side. He's been brilliant. You've seen his appetite today, his work, pressure, strength and quality. He has a wonderful touch for a big guy."
But it was 19-year-old Raheem Sterling who shone for the Reds at White Hart Lane, the teenager playing in a more central position and causing plenty of problems for the Spurs defence with his pace. Sterling opened the Reds' account on eight minutes, stroking home Sturridge's cross as Spurs conceded their first goal of the league campaign. Four minutes after the break Gerrard extended the visitors' lead from the penalty spot after Joe Allen was impeded by Eric Dier in the box. Moreno made it 3-0 with a powerful low drive as Liverpool put last week's defeat to Manchester City behind them. "The challenge for this team for this season is to defend better and I am sure the manager will be buzzing with the clean sheet," said Gerrard, who also singled out Balotelli for praise, describing his display as "terrific".
There was little terrific about Arsenal in their 1-1 draw away at Leicester, a result that leaves the Gunners in seventh spot on five points with just one victory from their opening three games. Alexis Sanchez put Arsenal in front on 20 minutes – after Yaya Sanogo's scuffed shot rolled into his path - but Leonardo Ulloa levelled for Leicester just two minutes later with a clinical header.
Both sides had chances to snatch victory but Arsenal striker Sanogo once again showed a lack of composure in front of goal. The 21-year-old Frenchman has now gone 17 matches without a goal for the Gunners and with every game that passes he looks less like a Premier League striker. Arsene Wenger may still believe in Sanogo but few others do. "Ineptitude" was the word used by Gary Lineker on Twitter to describe Sanogo's performance, the former England striker turned Match of the Day host added: "If Wenger doesn't bring in a decent striker even fourth place might elude them this season."
The Arsenal manager has just a few hours remaining to heed Lineker's warning.