Prior to kick off at Wembley, Jurgen Klopp provided an assessment of Tottenham’s squad, with the most interesting element surrounding their rearguard.
“They already have [Jan] Vertonghen and [Toby] Alderweireld, two of the best centre‑halves around at the moment, yet they still took the boy from Ajax [Davinson Sanchez],” the German pointed out.
Following the final whistle against Spurs, comfortable 4-1 winners on Sunday afternoon after a defensive stinker from Liverpool , questions will rightly again be asked of why the Reds failed to address their paucity of quality in the heart of defence, while a title rival enhanced their far superior choices.
Virgil van Dijk was identified as the sole centre-back option for the Anfield side in the summer, with Klopp insisting it would be difficult to name five superior players to those his club already possessed in the position.
He followed that up by stating that “a big part of football and life is really putting faith in the people you work with – trust them – because they all can improve”.
That misplaced conviction will certainly have been tested against Spurs, with Liverpool embarrassingly bankrupt at the back.
The very worst of Dejan Lovren was exposed not for the first nor the last time, while Simon Mignolet offered a reminder of why a new first-choice goalkeeper was on the shopping list ahead of last season.
Joel Matip and Joe Gomez weren’t far off in the shambolic scale and, despite Klopp removing the Croatian on 31 minutes, Ragnar Klavan wasn’t even considered to solidify matters, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain subbed on.
Liverpool showed their catalogue of defensive errors, conceding through both collective mistakes and individual ones. They were undone from a throw-in, a quick release from Hugo Lloris and two free-kicks.
Criminally, having got themselves back into things against the run of play through Mohamed Salah at 2-1, they allowed Dele Alli to take them out of the game again on half-time.
Harry Kane, who started the annihilation inside five minutes, then knocked in his second to leave the Merseysiders on the canvas with just three league wins in nine.
“In all the decisive moments, we were not there. It was poor defending in all parts,” Klopp admitted afterwards.
“We came here for a result and didn’t get a chance to get one with the way we defended in these four situations. That’s just not good enough”
Before the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Salah and Roberto Firmino could tattoo their attacking brilliance on proceedings, Liverpool were already 2-0 down with just 12 minutes played.
For Kane’s opener, Lovren attempted to play him offside while Gomez didn’t and Mignolet came out to make the striker’s mind up for him.
Not long after, that calamity was made to look less ridiculous. Lloris swiftly released the England international via a throw near the halfway line and Lovren ran straight past the ball, allowing the forward to profit off the space in behind.
Kane delivered a superb pass around Matip to find Son Heung-Min, who hit a first-time shot with his left through Mignolet.
On 24 minutes, there was some respite from the foolishness at the back with Firmino and Coutinho thieving possession to supply Jordan Henderson, who sent a stellar ball Salah’s way.
The Egyptian’s untidy finish was in off the far post, and temporarily, Liverpool displayed some of the verve expected from them.
That was fleeting, with the mistakes returning to foil any fightback. With the interval approaching, Emre Can conceded a needless free-kick and Matip headed Christian’s Eriksen’s execution towards the edge of the area, where an unmarked Alli served a volley into the corner.
The failings didn’t cease for Liverpool in the second half as Mignolet came for a Harry Winks free-kick and could only punch straight to Vertonghen.
Firmino cleared the defender’s shot off the line, but Kane was there to tap in and make Liverpool tap out.
“If I was on the pitch in trainers their first goal wouldn’t have happened,” Klopp fumed.
“I don’t want to say anything positive about us today. Whatever you say today about us in a negative way, you are right, we are wrong.”
Spurs didn’t have to do too much to get so much out of this encounter, and that is damning for Liverpool.
Having now let in more than they’ve scored in the league, and based on this evidence, it will be harder to find more inferior defensive options at elite level than those Klopp felt were good enough to continue the club’s renegeration.