Liverpool vs. Tottenham
Venue: Anfield Stadium
Kick off: 5:30PM
Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur meet in a repeat of the 2019 Champions League final this afternoon as the Premier League leaders welcome Mauricio Pochettino’s languishing Londoners to Anfield.
The hosts dropped their first points of the season at the ninth time of asking last time out, but they returned to winning ways in midweek and take on a Spurs side struggling for form so far in 2019-20.
The outcome of a Champions League final is always as polarising as it gets in club football, but the way teams respond to their respective fortunes can vary greatly.
So far this season, Liverpool seem to have picked up exactly where they left off in Madrid, whereas Tottenham have suffered a vicious hangover which is still very much being felt five months later.
The feeling that last season may have been the peak of this Spurs team could well have engendered a desire to leave the club for many of their star players whose contracts are nearing an end, which is one of a growing list of reasons given for such a poor start to the season.
Compare that to Liverpool, who have swept almost all before them so far this term, and within less than half a year the two-goal margin which ultimately separated them in Madrid has stretched to a 13-point lead after only nine games of the Premier League season.
Such a disparity between the two sides should be kept in context; Liverpool have enjoyed a historically good start to the season – victory today would see them equal the Premier League record of 28 points from the first 30 available – whereas Spurs have amassed their lowest points tally at this stage of a season since Pochettino took charge in 2014-15.
Both can be regarded as anomalies to a certain extent, then, but Liverpool will still go into the match as overwhelming favourites given what had been, up to last weekend, a faultless start to the season.
The Reds fell short of the top-flight record of 18 successive wins at Old Trafford and came within five minutes of losing just their second league game in 48 before Adam Lallana at least rescued a point at the end of an uncharacteristically turgid display at the home of their greatest rivals.
The draw may have ended their perfect start to the campaign, but they are still unbeaten in 26 league games and returned to winning ways with an overdue away Champions League group-stage triumph over Genk in midweek.
Liverpool’s travel sickness has been nowhere near as bad in the league as it has been in Europe recently, but there is no doubt that they are still most formidable in front of their own fans.
Indeed, Jurgen Klopp’s side go into this match having gone 44 league games without defeat at Anfield, the last 11 of which have all ended in victory – the club’s longest home winning streak since a run of 13 in 1985.
Anfield is a daunting place to visit for any team in world football right now, then, but Spurs in particular will be dreading the trip having failed to win an away game of any kind all season – the last three of which have all ended in defeat.
Remarkably, you have to go all the way back to January for Tottenham’s last league win on the road, during which time they have picked up two points from a possible 30.
The last time Spurs went more than 10 away league games without a win was in 2000-01.
Some encouragement can be drawn from the fact that those two points came away to Manchester City and Arsenal, but Spurs have also lost 20 and failed to win any of their last 23 Premier League games against the team starting the day top of the table.
Recent history seems to be against the visitors, then, and on current form it would take a major upset for Spurs to get something out of the game – Liverpool have more than double the number of points this season and seem to be a squad in sync compared to the disharmony around Spurs.
There was at least a rare cause for joy in midweek as Tottenham thrashed Red Star Belgrade 5-0 in a performance which saw the likes of Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Erik Lamela all on top form.
It was a welcome relief for a side that had only won twice in 12 games since the opening day of the season, and the return to form of such key players will have also been a significant milestone on Pochettino’s road back to glory.
Liverpool at Anfield is an entirely different proposition, though, and certainly not the ground Spurs would have chosen to finally end their away duck.
Liverpool possible XI: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Tottenham possible XI: Gazzaniga, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Aurier, Ndombele, Winks, Rose, Alli, Kane, Son.