Jurgen Klopp’s table-toppers Liverpool welcome Mauricio Pochettino’s struggling Tottenham Hotspur side to Anfield on Sunday looking to get back to winning ways after their disappointing draw at Old Trafford last weekend. Mauricio Pochettino on the other hand is in desperate need of a win in the Premier League after last weekend’s surprising draw at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium against bottom of the table Watford, a game they would have lost had Dele Alli’s “controversial” late equalizer been disallowed for handball by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR). The result against Watford has seen them drop to seventh on the log with 12 points and are 13 points behind leaders and has raised more questions than answers.
This weekend’s fixture will be the 57th meeting between these two clubs in the Premier League era with Liverpool having a better head-to-head record with 26 wins whilst Spurs have won 14 with both side sharing the spoils 17 times. The last time Spurs won a game at Anfield was way back in May 2011 when goals from Rafael Van der Vaart and Luka Modric secured a 2-1 victory for them.
SPURS NEED A WIN BADLY
A win on Sunday for Spurs would be their 450th win in the Premier League era and so there is the added pressure to win. The facial expressions of Pochettino in recent weeks tells it all. He knows his team is on a barren run that can end with a victory against a title contender away from home. His comments in matchday interviews also projects a true reflection of his frustrations with his team and their preparations towards the beginning of this season. For Pochettino, last season’s Champions League final berth was a testament of the hard work he had put into building this Spurs side. However, the Champions League final was just a mere cover of the cracks that were beginning to show in the team from the middle of last season which saw them end their season on a poor run of form. That poor run of form has followed them into this season and has seen them win only 3 matches, losing 3 games and drawing 3 of their opening 9 games this season. They have only preserved one clean sheet this season conceding 13 goals in the process. Embarrassing defeats to Chesterfield and Bayern Munich in Cup competitions have not helped their cause either. Their bad start to the season has also been compounded with the injury to Hugo Lloris who will be absent for Tottenham until 2020. Hugo Lloris’ injury is not actually a huge blow as he had been in a bad form before his injury. He has committed more errors leading to a goal more than any other goalkeeper in the league. They are currently on a two-game winless run and have scored only 15 goals in the league this season which is an abysmal return considering the firepower Tottenham possesses upfront. They have only recorded 38 shots on target and have created only 9 big chances averaging 1.67 goals per match with a shooting accuracy of 32 percent. Top striker Harry Kane has scored only 5 goals in the Premier League, a low return from a striker who is considered as one of the best in his position in the world. Their high pressing, which used to be their biggest strength has been missing in their games this season. The players look dejected, unwilling and lack commitment on the pitch with their manager coming under the same backfire with his demeanor this season. Their season has also been derailed by the continuous uncertainty over the futures of some of their key players with the likes of Eriksen, Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen all in the final year of their spurs contracts. The only good news for them ahead of Sunday is the return of summer signing Giovanni Lo Celso’s return from injury, a player whose creative influence will be much needed in the team. The positive result in the Champions League will also leave the North Londoners feeling confident ahead of the game.
BACK TO WINNING WAYS FOR KLOPP?
For Liverpool, last weekend’s game was just one of those bad days in the office considering their impressive start to the league season which has seen them accumulate 25 points from a possible 27 and propelled them to top spot. However, they will be wary of the threats Tottenham Hotspur possesses especially with their uncharacteristic shaky defensive displays this season which has seen them ship in 7 goals at the back already, 15 goals fewer than the total of 22 they conceded the whole of last season. They have also kept only 2 clean sheets in the league and have conceded an average 1 goal per match. Klopp will have to reshuffle his defense and leave no spaces for Spurs to exploit when the Liverpool full-backs go forward. Liverpool’s big asset has been their attack which has been boosted by the return of Mohammed Salah from injury which ruled him out of the Manchester United game and will be hoping his return will improve the front three’s goal-scoring chances on Sunday, something they missed in their game against United. On current form, Liverpool are favorites and would fancy their chances against a Spurs side who look devoid of confidence and could add to the 21 premier league goals they have already scored so far this season. They are the third high scoring team behind Manchester City and Leicester City in the league.
A win for Liverpool will be a statement to rivals Manchester City that this year could possibly be the end of their 29-year Premier league trophy drought. To do so, Klopp will be looking to shut out Spurs from scoring and so will Pochettino who will be hoping for a win to turn their season around. This is the game that could define both clubs’ season.