What a difference a month makes. In December 2020 Liverpool were flying high at the summit of the Premier League table and seemingly slew Spurs’ dreams of their first PL title. On Thursday night Jose Mourinho’s men can repay the favour to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and take the title they are defending further away from their grasp.
Both teams were being tipped as challengers in the league in the first third of the season but now find themselves in a fight to restore pressure on the Manchester teams who are stretching their leads further away from the chasing pack.
“If you can’t support us when we lose or draw, don’t support us when we win.”Bill Shankly
Liverpool’s misery was compounded by their oldest and bitterest rivals Manchester United at the weekend and found themselves out of the FA Cup in the fourth round (again). With no new (and much needed) centre back on the horizon and the unbeaten home streak vanquished to Sean Dyche’s Burnley side, Liverpool have hit rock bottom.
‘But only idiots stay on the floor!’
Jose Mourinho has lost his last three games to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool: his longest losing streak against a top-flight opponent. The egotistical ‘Special One’ will no doubt want to eradicate that statistic and with the effervescent and revitalised Tanguy Ndombele and co. finding form, Spurs are now in a position to overleap Liverpool in the league with a win.
Although the goals have returned to the Reds with a Salah brace in the cup, Liverpool are in their worst run in the league in 20 years without scoring a goal. The sensational trio of Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino need to find their scoring boots soon, or Liverpool won’t find themselves just out of the title race, they could be in a battle to save their top four status too.
Liverpool Team News
Liverpool find themselves where they have been for a few weeks: they are without Diogo Jota, Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez and the trio are long term absentees.
Naby Keita continues his fight for fitness and won’t be rushed back. Klopp has options in midfield with Thiago, Jones, Wijnaldum, Shaqiri, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Milner and Fabinho fit, although expect the latter to play in the centre back position he has impressed in for the majority of the season.
Jordan Henderson is a doubt after suffering a groin injury before the Burnley defeat and was so sorely missed in the past two games in terms of controlling the play and exerting his leadership qualities. The sooner he is back amongst the action the better; hopefully we will see his return on Thursday night.
Joel Matip was ‘protected’ in the cup against Manchester United so hopefully he can play alongside Fabinho against Spurs. Rhys Williams is expected to drop to the bench.
On another note: Williams is 19 years old and was playing for Kiddermister last season… he was never expected to play as much game time as he has done this season and especially against the likes of Marcus Rashford, give the lad a break.
The injuries to VVD and Gomez (and lack of movement regarding a new CB despite Klopp’s pleas) has forced him to play far more games than even he would have perhaps liked: so let’s support him and show him that mistakes happen, he doesn’t need to be hung out to dry whenever a mistake is made.
After all, You’ll Never Walk Alone means just that.
Tottenham Team News
For Tottenham Hotspur Hugo Lloris will start in goal and Joe Rondon, who has earned plenty of plaudits in his recent performances, could be given another opportunity to impress alongside Eric Dier as the CB partnership. The impressive Sergio Regulon will have his hands full down the left flank, as will Serge Aurier on the right-hand side with Matt Doherty a doubt.
Assuming Jose goes with his trusted pairing of Sissoko and Hojberg in midfield, Mourinho would have a front four to choose from but Son and Kane will be a certainty to take up two of those positions and Bergwijn and Ndombele to be most likely to fill the other vacant spots. Giovanni Los Celso is ruled out of the game through injury.
Liverpool will certainly need all the experience in defence that they can muster if they are to stop Harry Kane and Son Heung-min from peppering Alisson’s goal.
Liverpool and Spurs have met a total of 177 times in all competitions and Liverpool are well ahead in the wins column with 86, Spurs have 48. The latest win for Liverpool in December came at Anfield after Firmino’s bullet header in the dying moments in front of 2,000 fans. As I mentioned, a lot can change in a month.
Mohammed Salah has 13 goals this season in the league and leads the way at the top of the Premier League Top Scorers charts, but Harry Kane is only one behind him on 12, as is Son. It would take a brave man to bet against these three not scoring on Thursday night, the only question remains is who?
Following the shock loss to Burnley at home on Thursday and getting knocked out of the FA Cup by Manchester United on Sunday, it’s surprising to see Liverpool listed as 6/5 favourites over Spurs this week.
Spurs have won in five or their last six games, scoring 18 goals and conceding just three in that run. Liverpool on the other hand haven’t managed one win in their last five.
Klopp vs Mourinho currently stands at 12 games played, with Klopp boating 6 victories and Mourinho only 2.
Regardless of Liverpool’s poor run of form and the lack of an apparent new CB not ostensibly incoming this window, it is not all doom and gloom for the Red Men. A win here could easily ignite their season once again and close that 7-point gap between themselves and City. A draw wouldn’t be the end of the world against a good side in Tottenham Hotspur away from home, but anything less than a point would leave even the most optimistic of fan in cold sweats.
Liverpool are in a slump and of that there is no doubt, but hitting rock bottom doesn’t mean you have to stay there, it can be the beginning of something new. All of us get broken in some way but it is how you put yourself back together that is the true mark of champions. Jurgen Klopp and his Liverpool side are just that: Champions.
Here’s to the Reds; get behind them all.
Stay safe, and remember, YNWA.
By Ritchie Slack