Premier League 17/18: Liverpool vs Tottenham Hotspur – Lineups, Preview and Prediction
A heavyweight clash places a resurgent Spurs in Liverpool’s Anfield fortress for what promises to be the game of this weekend
16:30 GMT, Sunday 4th February, Anfield (Liverpool, England) Sky Sports
Mauricio Pochettino has repeatedly had critics round on his methods and team selections this season but has yet again come away with his dignity intact.
Having struggled to take positive results against teams in the top six, Wednesday night’s victory went some way to proving his side are more than capable of beating anyone.
Another stern test awaits them this weekend as they must travel to Anfield where their opponents remain unbeaten in the league this season.
Further to a seeming invincibility at home, Liverpool recorded a famous victory over Manchester City in their previous home game in the league.
More recently though, they were knocked out of the FA Cup by West Brom which suggests there is a chink in the armour to be exploited.
A defeat at Swansea has also tempered their recent form, however, there should be no shortage of goals from a side who have scored 23 goals from their previous 8 league matches.
Last Time Out
Huddersfield Town 0-3 Liverpool (Premier League)
Liverpool eased to victory against a stubborn and unadventurous side with some slick play and a stunning goal.
There was an early surprise from Liverpool when record signing Virgil van Dijk was left on the bench. However, the centre-back pairing of Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren did everything asked of them on the way to maintaining a clean sheet.
There was also a pleasing performance from Jordan Henderson who looked assured during his first start this year. With Andy Robertson and Emre Can either side of him, they provided plenty of width for Jurgen Klopp’s team which allowed the Reds to slice through a clustered midfield by quickly moving the ball around.
With Emre Can opening the scoring, he continues to impress despite the ongoing contract problems. However, Roberto Firmino stole all of the headlines with a dazzling performance and an exceptionally well-taken goal.
Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Manchester United (Premier League)
Spurs got off to a blistering start and pressed home their advantage with a polished performance that married skill and determination.
It took only 11 seconds before Christian Eriksen put the home side ahead in this match as both he and Spurs proceeded to dismantle the expensively assembled team in front of them.
Eriksen’s goal was his 50th for Tottenham but he finished the game having made six key passes which hints at the skill and precision which he exuded in orchestrating this win for his team.
Played at a frantic pace, the match swung openly from end-to-end as United tried to respond but it was Tottenham who possessed the most composure. With the defence standing tall, Mousa Dembélé put his recent dip of form to one side as he helped Spurs dominate the middle of the pitch.
From this position, it was always Tottenham in command of the match and after a Kieran Trippier cross was diverted into his own goal by Phil Jones after half an hour, there was only ever going to be one victor from this contest.
Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne and Ragnar Klavan all have muscular problems which will prevent them from taking part this weekend.
Virgil van Dijk may also struggle to start after Klopp admitted that the Dutch defender was rested on Tuesday evening to prevent him picking up an injury, suggesting he’s not fully match fit at present.
Jordan Henderson’s starring role in midfield against Huddersfield could see him continue in the team. However, some changes will be expected due to the busy schedule of fixtures Liverpool are currently facing.
Harry Winks (ankle) remains out of action for Spurs along with Serge Aurier (calf) and Toby Alderweireld (hamstring) but there are no new injuries for Pochettino to work around.
Danny Rose will be available once more following his knee problem, however, he’s unlikely to start having rarely featured this season.
Lucas Moura could make a start but is more likely to make his club debut from the bench due to his good record in Paris as an impact substitute.
This could all lead to an unchanged team although fatigue may come into the Tottenham managers reckoning after an high-intensity clash in midweek.
Key Battle: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) vs Harry Kane (Tottenham)
The Premier League’s two top goal-scorers face off on Sunday in what should be a high-profile shoot-out.
Mohamed Salah has been directly involved in 27 league goals (19 scored, 8 assisted) for Liverpool this season with 14 from his last 14 appearances.
This startling consistency to his productivity shows no sign of slowing down, especially at home where he has scored 14 of his 25 goals from the 32 games in across all competitions.
Not only has Kane showed consistency throughout this season – excluding his traditional dry August – he’s also been the league’s top scorer twice in succession.
Furthermore, he looks on course to equal the record of three consecutive gold boot awards which is currently held by both Alan Shearer and Thierry Henry.
With 21 league goals (1 assist) so far this season, Kane only requires one more to record his 100th strike in the Premier League which will further strengthen the argument that he should be deemed as one of the top strikers presently playing.
Learning from past mistakes
After being beaten by a Swansea side who set out to stifle Liverpool’s Formula 1 car with plenty of traffic, it was a similar fate which could have awaited Klopp’s team in Huddersfield on Tuesday.
With a rigid back five in which the wing-backs showed very little appetite for supporting their attack, Liverpool’s game plan showed they knew how to beat this tactic, even without Philippe Coutinho who was often relied upon in these situations.
Having lost the reverse fixture of their forthcoming game to Tottenham in October, Liverpool will need to show that they’ve the lesson handed to them that day.
Defensive mistakes and a slow start left them always chasing the game while Dejan Lovren will want to forget that day after being substituted only half an hour into the game.
£23 million super-sub
Having only made six appearances for Paris Saint-Germain during the first half of this season, Lucas Moura has arrived in London short of match fitness.
This should see him start this weekend from the bench which could very much work in both his and Tottenham’s favour.
His lightning pace on the right wing, combined with the direct running style he has, can unsettle the opposition.
To introduce a player with these qualities at a stage of the game when players are tiring can also deliver maximum impact and help to alter the momentum of a game during a match.
While Tottenham’s squad depth has been lacking during recent seasons, this new option will also provide something that Spurs have been desperately short of for too long now.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-3 Tottenham Hotspur
Liverpool have beaten Spurs in five of the previous six meetings between these two club’s at Anfield and are once more looking imperious at home.
Both teams are showing good form and are capable of winning what has the potential to be one of the games of the season.
However, Tottenham are growing stronger as the season progresses and could record the double over the Reds on Sunday following their 4-1 win in October.