Just five months after the Champions League final, Liverpool face their opponents from that day again but as league opponents. Tottenham will travel to Anfield on Sunday evening to face Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and to avenge the three defeats that the Reds inflicted on them during the last season. In the last couple of seasons, this would have been a marquee fixture but with Spurs languishing 13 points behind the Reds just 9 games into the season, this fixture has a slightly different feeling.
Liverpool of course have the most to lose on Sunday. They dropped points for the first time in the league this season last Sunday when they managed to only salvage a draw at a similarly beleaguered Manchester United. Those dropped points, along with additional pressure from City’s win means that Liverpool can ill-afford to drop any further points on Sunday. Jurgen Klopp’s men will try to win the game and will not be content with a draw even if Spurs are a top-six side. They come into the game after beating Genk 4-1 in Belgium on Wednesday night. Klopp will want to see a similar goal-scoring performance from hi team on Sunday.
Only eleven months back Tottenham were being called the third horse in a three-horse title race for the last season. Their form in 2019 however, has put paid to any such metaphors this season. Spurs have 22 points in 20 games since February, which in a single season would put them in relegation spots. However, they sit in 7th position having won three, lost three and drawn three. After being dumped out of Carabao Cup by Colchester in September, they got thumped 7-2 by Bayern at home a few weeks back and then 3-0 by Brighton at the Amex Stadium. But they come into the game on Sunday after a thumping victory of their own, winning 5-0 at home against Red Star Belgrade on Tuesday. Pochettino will be hoping that his side can show at least some of that form at Anfield.
- Liverpool have lost just one of their last 13 Premier League meetings with Spurs (W8 D4), going down 1-4 at Wembley in October 2017. Liverpool also beat Spurs in both the league meetings last season and also in the Champions League Final in Madrid. They last won four consecutive games against Spurs between 2013 and 2015 (run of five games).
- Tottenham are winless in their last 10 Premier League away games (D2 L8), including a 1-2 defeat to Liverpool in March. The only time Spurs have endured a longer winless run away from home was between May 2000 and January 2001 (14 games). Against Liverpool as well, Spurs are winless in last eight away league games (D3 L5), last winning at Anfield in May 2011.
- Anfield is growing a formidable fortress by every game. Liverpool have won each o their last 11 Premier League games at Anfield – they last embarked on a longer winning run at home during a 13-game streak between April and November 1985.
- Liverpool have lost just one of their last 48 Premier League games (W39 D8 L1). At Anfield, the Reds are unbeaten in 44 Premier League contests (W34 D10).
- This will be Tottenham’s 25th Premier League game away from home against a side starting the day top of the table – they won the first such game (2-0 at Blackburn in November 1992), but are winless in subsequent 23 games.
Virgil van Djik
Tottenham’s forwards showed a lot of verve during their midweek game against Red Star Belgrade and will want to continue that form at Anfield as well. To thwart Kane and Son, Klopp’s defence needs to be at the top of their game and that will be decided by how well Virgil van Djik plays. Despite Liverpool leaking more goals than last season, van Djik remains the defender to beat and he remains tough to be beaten one on one. His 7 Clearances/Blocks/Interceptions per game indicate how he disrupts the interplay between opposition forward. His 7 aerial duels per game (76% successful) nullify any height advantage that opponents might have. Not only is he great at defending, he is also instrumental in starting several attacking moves, as indicated by his 87% success in passing (682 passes) and 89% successful passing in opponents’ half (114 passes).
Kane likes to play against Liverpool. At least he did, before last season. Harry Kane has been directly involved in seven goals in nine Premier League appearances against Liverpool (5 goals 2 assists). However, Kane failed to score in both of his Premier League appearances against Liverpool last season, after netting three goals in two games against them in 2017-18. Kane is also coming off a brilliant brace against Red Star Belgrade in Champions League. However, his xG90 + xA90 of 0.50 indicates that he is not yet fully in form in the Premier League. He will hope that he can regain his usual form against Liverpool at Anfield.
For Liverpool, Xherdan Shaqiri and Nathaniel Clyne will sit out the game. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joel Matip both missed the trip to Genk in midweek, but they might be able to be back in the side if they are able to clear late fitness tests. Although Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain impressed in cameos against Manchester United and then in the game against Genk, Klopp might revert to his usual midfield trio. Possible Liverpool starting lineup for Sunday: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Henderson; Salah, Mane, Firmino.
For Pochettino, the injury list is shortening, with Giovani Lo Celso and Juan Foyth both featuring in the 5-0 win on Tuesday. But he is still without Hugo Lloris and Ryan Sessegnon. Possible starting lineup for Tottenham could be: Gazzaniga; Aurier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Ndombele, Sissoko, Winks; Alli, Son, Kane.
Tottenham might have beaten Red Star by 5 goals in the midweek but securing a win or these days even a draw at Anfield is completely different than beating a lower end team in Europe. After last week’s disappointing draw at Old Trafford, Liverpool will want to bounce back with a win and with the Kop behind them, it should be achievable for the Reds.
Liverpool 2 – 1 Tottenham