Liverpool 3-2 Tottenham: Four things we learnt

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Mario Balotelli's first Premier League goal for Liverpool gave his side a vital 3-2 victory against Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on Tuesday evening.

The Reds dominated possession in the early stages and were rewarded when Lazar Markovic's left-footed effort beat Hugo Lloris.

Spurs were soon on level terms ten minutes later when in-form striker Harry Kane slotted his effort through the legs of Simon Mignolet.

After the break, Danny Rose foolishly brought down Daniel Sturridge inside the box and Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard calmly slotted his penalty away.

Mauricio Pochettino's side once again battle and Christian Eriksen's free-kick was saved by Mignolet but Kane was first to react to the loose ball and found Mousa Dembele who got the equaliser.

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As both side's hunted for a winner, substitute Adam Lallana picked up the ball and expertly found Balotelli who smartly slotted his effort past Lloris to wrap the three points up for his side.

Emre Can The Man Again

In what was a wonderful game to watch, Emre Can was the pick of the bunch throughout.

So often I seem to be writing the same words to describe the German's performances; strong, powerful, whole-hearted - a top effort who rightly was awarded man of the match.

From the word go Can used the ball with intent and style. Given any situation, whether he had 20 yards of space ahead or he was under pressure, the 20-year-old always looked in charge of the situation.

So wonderfully does Can simply drop his shoulder, deceiving a pursuer of the ball and it buys him plenty of time to get his head up and pick the correct pass.

There was one moment in the first-half when his long-ball expertly found Alberto Moreno which almost lead to a goal from Markovic.

Defending wise, he won 100% of his tackles - some effort considering he had the marking of Kane, Eriksen, Dembelle and Lamela at times.

In the second-half, Rodgers asked Can to play in an advanced role in the centre-of-midfielder. Not a problem was the 20-year-old's response who took to his new position with maturity and responsibility.

Can bossed the midfield running powerfully at the Spurs back-four with the ball at his feet and created plenty of chances for his side as well as winning it back too. 

The centre of the park is Can's future for Liverpool - he knows it, Brendan Rodgers knos it and the fans know it. In the meantime, he plays he will put in a top performance.

Sterling Won't Sign? No Need To Panic

Prior to Tuesday's game, Brendan Rodgers stated that Raheem Sterling had been offered an "incredible deal" to extend his time on Merseyside.

The former QPR man still has not signed that deal and as each day passes it's looking more and more likely that negotiations will break down.

Sterling missed the clash against Spurs due to injury however his presence almost went unnoticeable.

In came Markovic who thrived playing in an advanced role, testing the Tottenham defence with his pace and movement. The Serb took his goal well and had a couple of over chances that could have went in.

Jordan Ibe retained his place at right wing-back and looked as good as he did against Everton on Saturday. The 19-year-old menaced Rose throughout and caused the Spurs left-back so many problems and whipped several dangerous crosses into the box, one that Sturridge nearly scored from via Markovic's lay-off.

Both Ibe and Markovic are capable of switching roles in the future which gives Rodgers even more options.

Hence, if Sterling refuses to sign a new contract then why do Liverpool need to worry? They have to exceptional young stars who can match the talents of the England international.

Rodgers Effective With Substitutes

Often this season, Rodgers' substitutes have been questioned by many Kopites and they have no effect on the game.

Against Spurs, the Northern Irishman was a mastermind with his changes and they handed his side the three points.

He firstly brought off Gerrard, who struggled throughout (more on him later, and replaced him with Dejan Lovren. There were nervous faces at Anfield when Lovren came on, the man responsible for more defensive mistakes than anyone in the Premier League, but, the ex-Southampton man performed well and looked much more confident than he has done in the past.

That change too saw Can move into the midfield which of course we have already talked about.

The next change was bringing Balotelli on in exchange for Sturridge.

Sturridge had been lively throughout but he began getting frustrating after missing two glorious chances in the first-half and hitting the post and he has a tendency to become greedy with the ball when not on the score-sheet.

Balotelli did not do an awful lot and gave the ball away a couple of times but, crucially, he got Liverpool's winner thanks to his excellent late movement inside the box.

The ball for the Italian's goal was played by Lallana who was Rodgers' final substitute. The England international was lively when he came on and changed the dynamic of the game and found space to cross to Balotelli.

Ultimately, Rodgers' changes were spot on on grabbed his side a vital win against their Champions League rivals.

Steven Gerrard Is Not A Defensive-Midfielder

When it was announced that the Reds' skipper would partner Jordan Henderson in the midfield opposed to Joe Allen, it was not the most pleasing of reactions at Anfield.

We've seen so many times this campaign that Gerrard is past his best playing at the heart of the midfield - his performance against Tottenham proved that.

Too often he gave the ball away when under no pressure and tried to play one too many glory passes. Playing as deep as he did, the 34-year-old could not be as effective with his passing as he has been when playing in an advanced role this season.

This was added by giving away too many fouls, one of which lead to Spurs' second goal. Albeit, it was a poor decision by referee Phil Dowd but Gerrard was punished for other fouls that were legitimate.

The passion is still there, however and Gerrard won the ball back for his side often in he first-half and took his penalty to perfection like always.

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Raheem Sterling
Premier League
Steven Gerrard
Tottenham Hotspur

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