Liverpool went back to second place in the Premier League table with a resounding 5-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.
With Steven Gerrard missing through injury and vice-captain Daniel Agger only making the bench, the captain’s armband was handed to Luis Suarez for the day – and whilst some may argue with the decision to have him skipper the side there is no doubting that he dazzled in the role.
Liverpool’s first opportunity to take the lead came in the first minute, as Suarez played Philippe Coutinho through, but the Brazilian was unable to adjust himself quickly enough and snatched at his shot.
This set the trend for the early exchanges, with Raheem Sterling in particular proving to be a thorn in the side of the Spurs defence.
The breakthrough came on 18 minutes. Suarez received the ball from Sterling before playing it on to Jordan Henderson. Suarez was quickest to Henderson’s return ball, and coolly side-footed past Hugo Lloris to open the scoring.
The game continued along the same lines, with Liverpool asking all the questions and Tottenham rarely coming up with any sort of response.
It seemed only a matter of time before the Reds scored a second, and they duly obliged with five minutes of the first half remaining. Henderson was played through by Coutinho, but found himself thwarted by Lloris. The Spurs stopped then did well to keep out an effort from Suarez from the rebound, but could do nothing about the third bite at the cherry from Henderson, who coolly volleyed home to double Liverpool’s lead.
Roberto Soldado did manage to put the ball in the back of the net shortly before the half-time whistle, but was correctly adjudged to have fouled Simon Mignolet in the build-up.
Tottenham started after the interval in a much better fashion, and put the Liverpool defence under pressure early in the second half. Not that the visitors were sitting back themselves though, with Sakho hitting the post and Skrtel firing a shot over the bar that may well have resulted in a goal had it fallen to an attacking player.
Any hopes the home side had of a comeback were dealt a blow on 62 minutes though, as Paulinho was dismissed for an incident that resulted in his foot striking Suarez in the chest. The player will no doubt protest his innocence, but replays appeared to show a clear movement of the foot in the direction of the Uruguayan.
The Reds had no doubt been the better side in the clash, but Spurs had shown signs up to that point that they weren’t to be taken lightly. The red card seem to knock the last of the fight out of the North London side though, and the game was pretty much one-way traffic from that point onwards.
Liverpool could smell blood, and were in no way content to settle for just the two goal victory. They continued to probe and a third goal came on 74 minutes. Henderson looked like he was getting shut out down the right flank before playing a sublime backheeled nutmeg to Suarez. The captain for the day sent a cross to the back post, where Jon Flanagan was on hand to fire in a powerful volley which rattled the crossbar on the way in.
The Spurs defence looked in disarray, and and nine minutes later they suffered further humiliation as Suarez lobbed a the ball over the onrushing Lloris to make it 4-0.
There was still time for one more – as Suarez turned provider to play through Sterling for a fifth goal – and there was even a chance for a sixth in injury time which went begging.
Shortly after this final chance the final whistle went to confirm a resounding victory for Liverpool which puts them in touching distance of league leaders Arsenal once more, and sends out a clear message to their rivals.