London (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp challenged Liverpool to extend their blistering start after the Premier League leaders delivered a statement of intent with a “perfect” 2-1 win against Tottenham.
Klopp’s side made it five successive victories as goals from Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino rewarded their dominant display at Wembley on Saturday.
Erik Lamela’s late strike for Tottenham prompted a nervous finale as the hosts appealed in vain for a penalty when Sadio Mane challenged Son Heung-min.
But anything less than three points would have been cruel on Liverpool, who punished mistakes from Tottenham goalkeeper Michel Vorm and the rest of his error-prone team.
Liverpool are off to their best start since 1990-91 as they chase a first English title since 1989-90.
This mature display marked them out as the most likely challengers to champions Manchester City.
But Reds boss Klopp, a winner at Wembley for the first time, wants to see his men produce a sustained spell of excellence before he agrees with that sentiment.
“I’m really happy and proud about the performance because the boys came back (from international duty) only on Wednesday and Thursday,” Klopp said.
“With all good results, of course you have momentum. Now we won a few games, that’s good, but it doesn’t change anything for us. It’s a long season.
“I’m happy with my squad, it’s really good, but we will have problems in the season. How we deal with that, I don’t know.
“I’m not a personality to wait for problems, but I’m old enough to know they will come.
“Nobody will play the perfect season. It’s still early, five games, fantastic we won all five and improved. I like that development.
“Now we have to prove that and do it again and again.”
After suffering four defeats against their top six rivals last season, including a 4-1 thrashing at Tottenham, this was exactly the kind of composed performance Klopp wanted to see.
Liverpool have yet to scale the attacking peaks they hit during last season’s run to the Champions League final.
But they are so well drilled and are playing with such hunger that no-one has been able to rattle them yet.
– ‘Outstanding’ –
Klopp was delighted with the way Liverpool passed their first test against a genuine title rival.
“The performance was better than the result and the result is perfect,” he said.
“Winning here is so difficult. I would never expect that, you need a really outstanding performance and that’s what the boys delivered.
“We could have scored more. We controlled the game. It was the best game of the season. We had 85 brilliant minutes.”
The only cloud for Klopp was the eye injury that Firmino suffered in a clash with Jan Vertonghen.
“Maybe an injury with Roberto, something in his eye, we don’t know in this moment. It is not comfortable for him,” he added.
Tottenham have lost consecutive Premier League games for the first time since 2016, puncturing the optimism engendered by three successive wins to start the campaign.
“The performance wasn’t great. If we analyse the first five games, the performances were similar but today the opponent was Liverpool,” Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said.
“When you make mistakes of course you will be punished by the quality they have. Of course they deserved to win.”
Tottenham have made a habit of falling short on the big occasions under Pochettino, who is yet to win a trophy since joining the club.
And he admitted Tottenham must improve dramatically to challenge for major silverware this season.
“The reality is this type of game shows we need to improve if we want to be contenders at the end to win some titles,” he said.
Hamstrung by injuries to Dele Alli and Hugo Lloris, as well as Harry Kane’s post-World Cup malaise, Pochettino added: “It’s the toughest season because it’s a challenge to work with a team that arrived a few days before the start of the competition.
“I’m not worried. We are going to win a lot of games.”
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