Spurs are hoping to maintain their unbeaten run under Mauricio Pochettino’s reign when Liverpool arrive at White Hart Lane on Sunday lunch-time, but Spurs fans are hoping for revenge after Brendan Rodgers’ men humiliated Spurs both home and away last season, registering a 9-0 scoreline at White Hart Lane and Anfield.
It’s a role reversal for both clubs throughout the summer, Liverpool have lost their star man to La Liga for an astronomical fee, much like Spurs’ main man the season before him. Brendan Rodgers has filled the void Luis Suarez left with seven players, including Mario Balotelli – who is set to make his Liverpool Premier League debut at White Hart Lane – and Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert among others.
Spurs have been relatively quiet and doing their business under the radar, bringing in four defenders (Fazio, Dier, Davies and Yedlin) and a goalkeeper (Vorm) – a problem identified by every fan and pundit throughout the 2013/14 season when Spurs shipped over 20 goals to the top four, resulting in Pochettino, Levy and Baldini addressing the issue.
Mauricio Pochettino will be without Kyle Walker and Roberto Soldado who will miss the clash with Liverpool through injury.
Liverpool have a host of defensive injury worries, with new signing Alberto Moreno and Glen Johnson leaving the Etihad with injuries, with Daniel Agger and Jon Flanagan also injury doubts. Adam Lallana should be back for Liverpool after the international break.
Rumours of the Argentinian playmaker being ostracised under Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood were completely disregarded by Les Ferdinand on Match of the Day last Sunday. Lamela arrived on British shores with not an English word in his vocabulary, found it hard to settle it and had an immediate set-back with a back and thigh injury mid-way through the season.
The former AS Roma forward has found his groove again under fellow Argentine Mauricio Pochettino, impressing in pre-season and finally lit up his first Premier League game against QPR last Sunday, assisting two goals in the space of seven minutes in the first half last weekend.
His ability was clear to see, but under Pochettino’s high intensity and pressure game, the 22-year old is now showing a work ethic alongside his quality.
Lamela will be Spurs’ key player alongside Emmanuel Adebayor on Sunday, with Liverpool’s defensive worries at left-back and right-back, Lamela could hold the key to unlock a relatively easy door.
While Lamela looks to be the player who could influence Spurs to grab all three points against a dodgy Liverpool back-four, Raheem Sterling, alongside Daniel Sturridge, will be the player’s that Brendan Rodgers will look to if they are to make it three in three against Spurs in the Premier League.
When Brendan Rodgers stated Raheem Sterling is the best young player in Europe last season, many fans and pundits laughed his comment off, but now it’s time to start taking that opinion seriously. With Suarez gone, Sterling can step up another gear.
Mario Balotelli’s arrival may leave Brendan Rodgers with a happy problem of having to re-jig his tactics. Philippe Coutinho has had a relatively underwhelming start to the season. Do not be surprised if you see Sterling at the top of the diamond formation with Balotelli and Sturridge up front.
Spurs have kept two clean-sheets so far this season, but have been relatively lucky not to concede against West Ham with Mark Noble missing his first ever penalty in a Hammers shirt, and Matt Phillips trying to be too clever when he should have netted to make it 1-1 against Spurs last Sunday.
Mario Balotelli dented Spurs’ title challenge back in 2012 when he scored the winning penalty at the Etihad, and I wouldn’t put it past the former AC Milan and City striker to score on his Liverpool debut at White Hart Lane, with the Italian striker available at 5/1 to score first or last at Betway. Mario Balotelli to score first and Spurs to win is 66/1.
With Liverpool’s injury worries after their 3-1 defeat at the Etihad, and Spurs convincingly beating QPR 4-0 and taking confidence from that performance, I will be backing Spurs to win 2-1 at Betway at 29/4.
Long-shot: Mario Balotelli to score first and Spurs to win is 66/1.
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