White Hart Lane, Tottenham, London
Sunday, 31 August; 13:30 GMT
Despite the fact that the season is relatively new, Tottenham look like a rejuvenated side- the players are gelling, there is clear chemistry and they’re getting the results. Such is the impact of a coach in football. Mauricio Pochettino seems to be doing a good job so far. Despite winning convincingly against Spurs last season, the Reds would face an entirely different test this time.
Team News, Predicted Lineups and Tactics
Like mentioned before, Pochettino seems to have done a good job with the team in the pre-season and the players are playing with the enthusiasm and chemistry that certainly evaded them last time around. It has been just two games, but Spurs are currently sitting on top of the table having won both their opening fixtures. They are superior on goal-difference than Manchester City and Chelsea, since they routed QPR 4-0 last weekend. They come to this game having beaten 3-1 in the Europa League qualifiers and are hence high on confidence.
Spurs would operate in the 4-2-3-1 fashion. Hugo Lloris will undoubtedly stand in goal. Last season, the London side lost to Liverpool 5-0 and 4-0. Despite such heavy scorelines, Lloris was not put to blame as the goals were a result of sloppy defending. The France captain would be required to put on a good showing in the goal again. New signing Federico Fazio would probably not start the game although the bulky ex-Sevilla man would prove to be an important player at the back for them later on in the season. Eric Dier, who has been one of the most impressive young players in the league, and one of the best summer signings so far, would start at right-back. The England U-21 player has looked composed at the back and has also contributed offensively, having scored a goal apiece in both the matches. Centrally, Younès Kaboul and JanVertonghen will start together. They are currently Tottenham’s best center back pairing with Vlad Chiricheș just returning from an injury. Summer signing Ben Davies is unlikely to start in this tough game and Pochettino would probably make him wait for his league debut. Danny Rose has enjoyed good games so far and will start on the left.
In the midfield we will see Étienne Capoue and Paulinho. Capoue looked in good touch against QPR and even recorded an impressive 109 passes in the game- the most in the second weekend of games. The Frenchman didn’t play in the mid-week Europa qualifier and has had good rest. Paulinho did play against AEL but he is likely to start. The Brazilian looked solid against AEL and Pochettino would want a player of his calibre in the proceedings against Liverpool Both Capoue and Paulinho will have to dominate the heart of the pitch and contain the threat of Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and co. for the home side to come out on top. Moussa Dembele is the other choice in the midfield. Nabil Bentaleb is likely to be rested and would be on the bench.
Up in front, we are likely to see Erik Lamela on the right. The ex-Roma man who was dubbed a ‘flop’ signing last year seems all set to prove his doubters wrong. He has been in good touch in the pre-season and the season so far, and this is the match where he can really show off his credentials. Christian Eriksen will start right behind the striker and last match’s two goal scorer, Nacer Chadli will be on the left flank. The player operates more as a wide-forward and would be seen regularly cutting inside. He would offer Emanuel Adebayor support up-front, with Adebayor probably starting as a lone-striker.
Predicted Line-up (4-2-3-1): Lloris, Dier, Kaboul, Vertonghen, Rose; Capoue, Paulinho; Lamela, Eriksen, Chadli; Adebayor
No side wants to make two back to back tough away trips in a season, and these two consecutive fixtures have come as early as in the first month of the League for Liverpool. Brendan Rodgers’ team suffered a 3-1 defeat against Manchester City at the Eithad and would want to get a positive result on Sunday to begin the momentum for the month of September, where they have a set of easier fixtures, barring Everton at the end of the month.
Simon Mignolet will start in goal for the Reds. Again, it is too early to really say anything, but despite spending around £32million on defence, the problem doesn’t seem to have been entirely solved for the Reds. Dejan Lovren has so far not justified his £20m price tag and why he was brought in as a sure-shot starter. He made errors against Manchester City which directly led to goals. He is surely going to start this game too, and the Croatian needs to put on a solid performance throughout the 90 minutes to ensure that he silences his doubters. Martin Skrtel will start alongside Lovren. Liverpool supporters want to see French international Mamadou Sakho in the starting 11, but Rodgers would not start two left footed centre backs alongside, and hence Sakho would funnily enough, be left on the bench. There is a doubt about the availability of Alberto Moreno. He had a good match against last season’s PL winners, but his one individual error directly led to a goal. However, Moreno showed great attitude and once he gets used to the pace and physicality of the Premier League, he is going to do really well. In the absence of Moreno, Enrique would start the game. Glen Johnson limped off the match against City and Javier Manquillo is likely to start at left back.
In the midfield, we will have Steven Gerrard playing the holding role alongside Joe Allen. The Welshman has looked good in the two league games which have even resulted in bizarre transfer links to Manchester United. Jordan Henderson is likely to get a start in the midfield (Not to forget, this is the place where Henderson looked magical last season).
Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge are two sure-shot starters in the attack for Brendan Rodgers. The doubt is whether Adam Lallana, who began training with the team before the City game, even though he was not going to participate against the Sky Blues, will start. In that case, either Joe Allen or Philippe Coutinho gets dropped to the bench. The Brazilian has not shown his pre-season form so far and in case he is picked, he needs to quickly get that back as he is going to be one of the key players for Liverpool this season. For now, it looks like Coutinho and Lallana will both be on the bench. The other doubt will be if latest Liverpool signing, Mario Balotelli, gets a start or is brought from the bench after the first half.
Liverpool played the 4-3-3 in the previous game and it absolutely didn’t work for them. Whenever Philippe Coutinho has played on the left, the Reds seem to be playing with 10 players- his effect is that anonymous. Daniel Sturridge drifts to the right side far too often in the game and Liverpool then miss a poacher in the box. Sterling makes forward runs but the 19 year old is not quite adept at that at the moment. They need to play the 4-4-2 diamond formation. Against Southampton and Manchester City both, when the Reds switched to the diamond formation after bringing on Rickie Lambert as the substitute, they immediately made an impact. After the previous game, it looks like Rodgers would start with a 4-4-2 formation. Balotelli would have been with the team for about a week on Sunday and hence Rodgers can directly give him a start. Lazar Markovic looked very lively when he was brought on against City but the Liverpool boss would probably again use him as a substitute to infuse energy in the second half. Raheem Sterling is likely to play the number 10 role in case of a 4-4-2.
Predicted Line-up (4-4-2) : Mignolet; Manquillo, Skrtel, Lovren, Moreno/Enrique; Gerrard, Henderson, Allen, Sterling; Sturridge, Balotelli
- This is Brendan Rodgers’s 100th match in charge of Liverpool in all competitions – victory on Sunday would match Bill Shankly and Rafa Benitez’s records of 56 victories in their first 100 fixtures, Only Kenny Dalglish (62) has won more.
- The Reds have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last eight Premier League games.
- Spurs have won their last five Premier League home games, scoring a total of 18 goals.
- Prior to last season, Spurs had won six successive home games against the Reds in all competitions.
Player to watch out for
Erik Dier (Tottenham)
As mentioned before, the player has looked very impressive in both the games so far. The Reds, who often look vulnerable in set-pieces, will have to deal with the defender’s presence there. But more importantly, Liverpool’s left flank would need to be solid defensively and offensively. The players would have to beat the right-back and try to boss that side to create opportunities for Liverpool to get the team ahead
Liverpool 2-2 Tottenham
This could prove to be an evenly contested match. Liverpool need to get a win here to build momentum, but Spurs look in very good touch, and they are at home. Expect an early Liverpool lead followed by possibly two Tottenham goals. Liverpool will equalize in the second half but both the teams will be eluded from a winner.
Blast from the Past