The top two in the Premier League will go head to head as Liverpool play hosts to Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday.
It has been quite a roller coaster ride for Liverpool in the Premier League this season. Following a mixed start to the campaign, a 4-0 rout over Wolves earlier in the month ushered in hopes of redemption before it was halted by a 1-1 draw with Fulham away from home this past weekend.
The result only benefitted Tottenham Hotspur, who were also held by Crystal Palace 1-1 on the weekend. But with Liverpool drawing and Chelsea losing, they remain top of the league table and will look to preserve their position when they lock horns with the Reds on Wednesday.
The Lilywhites have responded well to their tough run of fixtures this month, securing wins over Manchester City and Arsenal while drawing against Chelsea. So the game with Liverpool should mark the end of this difficult phase, and one can imagine how rewarding it will be for the visitors to secure all three points at Anfield.
However, Liverpool, despite their inconsistencies this season, are still virtually unbeatable at home. They also have a stellar record against Spurs, having lost just one of the last 15 meetings between these two sides and winning all of the last four matches – making them the undisputed favourites.
It needs to be pointed out that historical records do bear very little significance when it comes to matches like these and if any English team can break down Liverpool’s hegemony at Anfield, it is Mourinho’s well-drilled, counter-attacking Tottenham side.
So, here at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the Premier League giants ahead of their eye-watering encounter at Anfield this midweek.
Team News & Tactics
Klopp could be boosted by the potential return of Naby Keita this week as the midfielder has returned to training. Unfortunately, the German didn’t sound all too optimistic regarding his chances of featuring in this game, so we are assured to expect the same midfield that includes Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson in the packed double-pivot.
As for the additional midfield slot, Curtis Jones should get the nod ahead of Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain. The youngster’s box to box qualities could prove to be Liverpool’s X-factor against a strong Tottenham midfield that likes to press the opposition and prevent any transition.
Defence, however, has been a real Achilles’ heel for the reigning English champions this season. Fabinho has done well to offer the versatility at the back, but he is no Virgil van Dijk, so things could be difficult as he and Joel Matip, who could recover from the back spasm he picked up against Fulham, brace themselves for the challenge from Harry Kane and company.
These two could, in fact, require additional support from the full-backs in Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson. The latter is clearly the best defender so he may operate in a deeper with someone like Henderson also occasionally dropping in deep to aid the two centre-backs during defensive phases.
In the attacking department, Klopp does have a lot of firepower, and he will be sure to unleash them against a strong Spurs defence. Diogo Jota is currently the man of the moment for Liverpool, but unfortunately for Klopp, the Portuguese international has been ruled out with a knee injury, thus securing a place for Roberto Firmino in the number nine role.
Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are other guaranteed starters in the wider attacking positions, but Klopp could potentially use the creative ability of Oxlade-Chamberlain late in the game, with Takumi Minamino also hoping for a chance.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Matip, Robertson; Jones, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane
Jose Mourinho’s tactics against big teams, or any team in the Premier League this season has been simple – find an early goal or two and then sit back and defend the pressure, preferably in the second half where the opposition players are already tired.
The seemingly telepathic combination play and understanding between attackers Son Heung-Min and Harry Kane has propelled Spurs’ attack this season. But, Steven Bergwijn can also play a key role, especially when it comes to terrorising the left flank and exploiting the spaces left behind by the attack-minded Alexander-Arnold.
Pierre-Emile Hobjerg, in midfield, has been an inspiration for every Spurs player this season. A born leader among men, the Dane has constantly demanded the best out of his midfield partner Moussa Sissoko while allowing the more naturally talented Tanguy Ndombele to venture forward and provide the creative essence in the final third.
It has all worked perfectly for Mourinho so far this season, giving the Portuguese tactician very little reason to make any changes to the side that drew with Crystal Palace on the weekend.
The same applies to the defensive unit where Toby Alderweireld should once again partner Eric Dier in central defence, providing cover for Hugo Lloris while Serge Aurier and Sergio Reguilon should occupy the full-back positions, even though new signing Matt Doherty is pushing for a place in the starting eleven.
Apart from these quality first-team players, Liverpool should also be aware of Tottenham’s deadly options on the bench. Giovani Lo Celso, in particular, is guaranteed to come on as a substitute around the hour-mark, replacing Ndombele while the likes of Carlos Vinicius and Lucas Moura also pack a punch. Unfortunately for the neutral, Gareth Bale remains a doubt due to illness.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Lloris; Aurier, Alderweireld, Dier, Reguilon; Sissoko, Hojbjerg, Ndombele; Son, Kane, Bergwijn
1. Tottenham Asian Handicap +1 @ 1.600
1. Full-Time Result – Draw @ 3.80
- Liverpool have already dropped 11 points in the Premier League this season, with the Reds only dropping 15 in the entirety of their title-wining season in 2019/20, taking them until the 35th game last season to drop their 11th point in a 1-1 draw with Burnley.
- Tottenham have won just one of their last 26 Premier League away games against Liverpool, winning 2-0 win May 2011 under Harry Redknapp.
- Liverpool have lost just one of their last 15 Premier League games against Tottenham, going down 1-4 at Wembley in October 2017. The Reds have won their last four against Spurs in the league, all by a margin of just one goal.
- Tottenham have won three of their last seven away league games against reigning top-flight champions, beating Manchester United in 2013/14, Leicester City in 2016/17 and Chelsea in 2017/18 – they’d only won three of their previous 40 such matches.
- Spurs have never lost six consecutive matches against Liverpool in all competitions – they last endured such a losing run against an opponent versus Manchester United between September 2001 and September 2004 (seven defeats in a row).
Player to Watch
Midfield is by far the biggest asset Tottenham have in their team right now. The seemingly impressive figure of Hojbjerg has been a rock in the number six position, building a formidable partnership alongside Sissoko that allows them to dominate the midfield territory, thus effectively minimising the opponents’ overall chance creation.
For Liverpool, breaking this line could be a challenge, especially without two of their best ball-carriers in Keita and Thiago. So the onus will be on Jones to aid his team in that regard.
The 19-year-old is not exactly a player who can work along the half-spaces and evade the second line of press through his excellent skill on the ball. However, his box to box movements could occupy the two Spurs midfielder, effectively allowing Firmino to potentially drop deep and feed balls in from the likes of Henderson or the full-backs while Wijnaldum could trot around the half-spaces.
Liverpool 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur have received a lot of praise for their defensive game throughout the season. However, their attack has lacked precision, and there has been a noticeable dip in the form of Son. Liverpool, in contrast, boast a world-class attacking unit that might just be able to break through the lines of the Spurs backline, who were lucky not to concede multiple goals against Crystal Palace. So we are expecting a narrow win for the hosts.