In the early Saturday fixture Spurs welcome an undefeated Liverpool to Wembley for a barometer of both sides’ title ambitions.
It is an opportunity for Liverpool to cement themselves among those tied on points at the top, and for Spurs, they have a chance at redemption after a disappointing loss to Watford before the international break. The first clash after last season’s controversial fixtures will be something to enjoy.
Liverpool have managed to do something Spurs failed to in the last round of matches: play badly and win. Against Leicester they missed the newly influential Naby Keita – the attacking playmaker was bizarrely rested for Jordan Henderson’s return – and the club captain lacked the class their new signing has shown so far. They relied upon last season’s stars to get them the win, particularly Sadio Mané who has quietly been the best player in a magnificent front three. This was before an Allison howler let the Foxes back into the game, however Liverpool managed to hold out for a 2-1 victory.
Mauricio Pochettino will be pleased that not many of his stars picked up injuries during the international break. Both Dele Alli and Harry Kane are doubts due to injuries picked up with England, but I expect both to pass their fitness tests. The Spurs manager was in attendance at Wembley for England’s defeat to Spain, which could mean he is still thinking that Gareth Southgate’s system could be successful for Tottenham. Against Watford this was not the case though, as Mousa Dembélé, the lone central midfielder, was isolated frequently. If this happens again it could be an embarrassing defeat at the hands of an often ruthless Liverpool.
At home Tottenham will look to dominate possession, which I think Jurgen Klop’s team will accept and look to threaten on the counter attack. It will be interesting to see how Pochettino will set his team up. I believe he will go with three-at-the-back so he can fit in the pacey Davinson Sanchez to counter Liverpool’s quick attack. Eric Dier will most likely take the place of Mousa Dembélé for fitness reasons, and hopefully the defensive midfielder will provide more cover than the enigmatic Belgian did at Vicarage Road.
This is a very tough fixture for both teams, as the last few seasons when they have met they have been satisfied with getting a draw. However, last season saw two very aggressive matches with both teams hungry for a win. This season, the three points are so vital for both sides, it could end up leading to a stalemate. However, I think that Spurs will be looking to bounce back and will do it with a 3-2 win. This match will be Liverpool’s first test and I don’t see them passing it if Tottenham play to their full potential.
Predicted Spurs Line-Up: Lloris; Sanchez, Alderweireld, Vertonghen; Trippier, Dier, Alli, Eriksen, Davies; Kane, Moura.
Predicted Liverpool Line-Up: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Milner, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mané.