This is arguably the game the season hinges on. After the midweek results, it looks like the Top 6 has become the Top 5. Arsenal’s defeat to Swansea has left them cut adrift which means Spurs, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United are battling it out for the remaining Champions League places. Both sides impressed in midweek; Liverpool comprehensively swept Huddersfield aside 3-0 whilst Spurs produced a dazzling display to overpower Manchester United 2-0 at Wembley.
Jurgen Klopp has lost just once to Mauricio Pochettino, October’s 4-1 destruction at Wembley, and he’ll be looking at Spurs’ indifferent Anfield form as motivation. Their last win at Anfield came in 2011 and they’ve since lost 5 of the 8 games played, including twice last season. It was the 2-0 victory last February that will scar Tottenham fans more than most Anfield defeats. Liverpool had not won in five after a disastrous January and Spurs arrived full of confidence, but they were blown away by a highly-charged Liverpool and the scoreline flattered them. A similar result on Sunday would do much to dispel the recent negativity that has crept into the Liverpool fanbase in recent weeks, with a five point cushion up for grabs.
Spurs shouldn’t be dismissed, though. Harry Kane is on 99 Premier League goals and it seems almost certain that he’ll get number 100 at Anfield, as it’s the sort of thing Liverpool like doing. Pochettino’s men are on a 9 match unbeaten run in all competitions that stretches back into 2017, and with their attack clicking in recent weeks, the Liverpool defence will have to find some steel if they are to keep them at bay.
Liverpool should recall Virgil van Dijk after he was rested for the win against Huddersfield, but who he comes in for is a different question; Dejan Lovren was impressive against Huddersfield so he may well get the nod. Gini Wijnaldum is also likely to return after sitting out the match against the Terriers, with James Milner likely to drop out. Adam Lallana is the only injury doubt, with Nathaniel Clyne still sidelined.
Spurs have been boosted by the returns of Harry Winks and Serge Aurier to training this week, whilst Toby Alderweireld may make the bench. Mauricio Pochettinho has said that new signing Lucas Moura is unlikely to feature.
What The Managers Say
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp:
“Spurs are in a good moment, but our moment is not too bad as well. It’ll be interesting.
“It’s the most similar game to playing City. When you play one of the best teams in the world you have to put in your best performance. It’s a very interesting challenge again. We have a few nice options where we could make changes or not. The last game was good.”
Spurs’ Mauricio Pochettino:
“Always it’s difficult to play away from home with the top sides like Liverpool in this case. All the clubs it’s so difficult to play against the top sides away from home. Liverpool have one of the best squads in Europe, with great manager and great players.
“The atmosphere will be amazing because Anfield, they are so tough, it’s a tough atmosphere to play against. I think it will be a very difficult for us.
“When you play against a big team like Liverpool, there are do things to do: one is how you can score goals and be offensive and dominate the game, another is when they have the ball, how you stop them and try to make their offensive situations difficult.”
Whilst it’s potentially reckless to go into a Liverpool game feeling even an ounce of confidence, this seems like a game that Liverpool should be winning. Spurs’ style plays into our hands, leaving lots of space for Salah, Mane and Firmino to play in; but the midfield battle is crucial. Liverpool won it against City and Huddersfield and won, but against Swansea and West Brom, the midfield was non-existent and that resulted in defeats. Gini Wijnaldum will surely put in another baffling, yet quality, performance as we’re at home to a Top 6 side. Spurs will no doubt offer problems but we’re in a far stronger position to deal with them than we were in October thanks to the arrival of Virgil van Dijk. I think we’ll win, it’ll be nervy stuff at times but the power of Anfield should help us over the line, which is why I’m going Liverpool 3-1 Swansea.