Fresh off their best start in Premier League history, league leaders Liverpool visit Tottenham with a relative point to prove after registering just 1 point from 6 against the London side last season. Tottenham’s tepid defeat to Watford spoilt what would have been a perfect start for Pochettino’s crew, especially after the superb dismantling of fellow Champions League rivals Manchester United. Both these sides hold outside ambitions of a title challenge, and as often the case, matches between possible rivals often counts more significantly in the long run. It’s the stereotypical six-pointer, where neither side can afford to lose, but far more than usual is gained from victory.
Tottenham vs Liverpool Prediction and Preview
Fact of Interest:
- Liverpool haven’t yet beaten Tottenham at their temporary home of Wembley Stadium. Their 4-1 defeat last season was the 2nd worst of their campaign in 2017/18.
- Spurs were one of two sides Liverpool failed to beat in the league in 2017/18 (the other being Manchester United).
- Tottenham’s last win (and last home win) in this match up was in November 2012’s 2-1 win at White Hart Lane. Of the current squads, the only players who remain from that win are Hugo Lloris and Jan Vertongen.
- Between the home wins last season and November 2012, Spurs suffered two defeats and two draws against Liverpool at their home ground.
- Harry Kane has scored in both of his last two appearances against Liverpool.
- Lucas Moura has never played against Liverpool.
- Sadio Mane has scored only 2 goals against Spurs, both in the home win at Anfield in February 2017.
- Mohamed Salah has scored in both of his last two appearances against Spurs.
- Both of Mohamed Salah’s goals this season were the opening goals for his team in those respective matches.
- Mauricio Pochettino has won 1 and lost 2 of his 7 matches against Jurgen Klopp, all while managing Tottenham.
- Pochettino’s overall record against Liverpool stands at 3 wins and 5 losses from 12 matches.
- Both sides have scored two thirds of their total goals thus far in the second half of matches.
Match Facts & Summary
|Head to Head||Tottenham||Liverpool|
|Current Season Record||Played 4, Won 3, Lost 1||Played 4, Won 4|
|Current Season Top Scorers||Moura (3), Kane (2)||Mane (4), Salah (2)|
|Last 10 Competitive Matches||Tottenham 1 Win, 4 Draws, Liverpool 5 Wins|
|Last 10 Competitive Matches at Wembley / White Hart Lane||Tottenham 6 Wins, 2 Draws, Liverpool 2 Wins|
|Last Season’s Result||Tottenham 4-1 Liverpool|
Both sides face have opening fixtures on Tuesday 18th September for their Champions League groups; Tottenham will travel to Milan to play Inter in the early kickoff slot, while Liverpool host PSG.
Tottenham’s injury list will likely prevent Erik Lamela, Hugo Lloris and Moussa Sissoko from making the fixture. Liverpool remain without Alex Oxlade Chamberlain due to long term injury, while Dejan Lovren remains a doubt.
Expected Line-ups and Tactical Considerations:
Pochettino’s lineups have proved hard to predict from a systemic perspective; 352/3142 was used in the win at home to Fulham and the away defeat to Watford, while relatively conservative 4231/4321 hybrid tactics were used against Newcastle and Manchester United. With the exception of the Old Trafford fixture, Spurs have dominated possession in all their matches, and been broadly efficient in their capacity to create good chances. The key to their solid start has been the impressive depth in midfield, and the emergence of underrated forward Lucas Moura, who may be on the cusp of forming a devastating partnership with England captain Harry Kane.
There are injury concerns though, and veteran Michel Vorm may likely feature again in goal against Liverpool, with Hugo Lloris a doubt to make it back in time for the match up. It’s unclear whether 4 at the back or 3 at the back will be used, but given the attacking danger Liverpool pose, it’s probably that Pochettino will draw in particular from the configuration against Manchester United to guide his choices tactically. In this case, assuming a 4312, only Danny Rose is the least nailed on starter at left back, with Vertonghen, Alderweireld and Tripper expected to keep their places. Eriksen’s creativity, Dele Alli and Dembele’s dribbling prowess, and Dier’s sensibility should all enable them to keep their slots in midfield, behind Moura and Kane.
Jurgen Klopp, meanwhile, hasn’t deviated in the slightest from the 433 that served so well last season. New signing Naby Keita has proved an exciting and industrious addition to the squad, while the injury to Dejan Lovren has enabled Joe Gomez to create a very solid partnership alongside the cool head of Virgil Van Dijk in central defence. Bizarrely (by comparison to previous seasons, at least), Liverpool enter the match having conceded just one goal (courtesy of a much criticized error by new goalkeeper Alisson) which is the lowest in the league at present.
With Lovren not expected to make it back in time before this match, the only real surprises for Liverpool will likely come in midfield. The back 5 of keeper Alisson, fullbacks Alexander Arnold and Robertson and centre backs Gomez and Van Dijk is probable to start, and the front 3 of Salah, Firmino and Mane understandably picks itself when fully fit. The only debate seems to be between a starting berth for Keita or club captain Jordan Henderson; versatile Dutchman Georginio Wijnaldum seems to have slotted comfortably into a new role as anchor midfield, while James Milner continues to surpass his expected longevity with solid passing and assists.
With Vorm in goal for Spurs, the focus area for both sides will be clear in Spurs protecting their reserve keeper from exposure, and Liverpool’s relentless pressing and fast transitions trying to capitalize on this issue. The direct battle on the flank between the in-form stars for both clubs – Trippier and Mane – could prove inconsequential if they cancel each other out; Spurs may be far anxious about whether Rose or Ben Davies will be able to manage Egyptian speedster Salah. Given Pochettino’s team’s inability to meaningfully prevent chances for opposition, it’s unlikely that Liverpool will fail to enjoy a healthy number of opportunities.
But it’s likely that the game deciding battle occurs in midfield. While it is true that Liverpool’s defence has been impressive, they’ve not yet had to face one as populated with equivalent talent as Tottenham, and if Klopp chooses a trio of Milner, Henderson and Wijnaldum in particular, the impression is that the Reds will struggle from the lack of ball carrying support in the middle of the park, especially with Tottenham considerably flush in players who can hold and retain the ball. While Alisson’s error got the headlines, it was an errant pass from Jordan Henderson that kicked off the risky move leading to Leicester’s goal against Liverpool, and the Spurs side are capable of similarly dangerous transitions into attack to further exacerbate any self-inflicted Liverpool defensive pressure.
Assuming he doesn’t start, for Liverpool, the wildcard will be the impact of Keita, whose aggressive, direct approach in midfield could prove an unsettling dynamic for Tottenham to manage and could be the difference between a 5th consecutive win for Liverpool and a tepid draw. Klopp doesn’t tend to blood new signings in too quickly though, so expect the advantage to be with the home side and their midfield prowess, probably delivering a low scoring, narrow margin win for Pochettino and his squad.
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