It’s that time again and Liverpool are back in Premier League action, this time it’s Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur side that is travelling up to Merseyside to face the Reds at Anfield. A week before Champions League fever hits once more, one of the more important fixtures of the remaining Premier League calendar rolls around. Liverpool have been nigh-on invincible against the other teams in the top six in recent years, but two heavy defeats against Manchester City and Sunday’s opponent’s, Tottenham tarnish that reputation. Here’s The Anfield Talk’s Anthony (@anthonymarkmcav) with your match preview. Match-day 26? Into these.
DATE: FEBRUARY 3RD 2018
WHO: LIVERPOOL VS TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
TIME: 16:30 (GMT)
REFEREE: JON MOSS
Someday, Liverpool will have a fully fit side and today is not that day. Nathaniel Clyne is still out with his long term injury and Ragnar Klavan is also still out with a slight thigh injury. The Estonian is expected to return to training in the next week.
Adam Lallana will yet again be out of the fray with his “slight tear”. It’s disappointed for him as he’s been injured pretty much all season. Returning from injury will more than likely be Virgil van Dijk, who sat out the 3-0 win over Huddersfield on Monday.
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This will being the first game after the January transfer window and the Reds will be looking to spring forward into the rest of the season minus Phil Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge, Lazar Markovic, Marko Grujic, Jon Flanagan, Ovie Ejaria, Lloyd Jones, Matty Virtue, Corey Whelan, Cameron Brannagan, Andy Firth and Ryan Kent. Granted many of those wouldn’t have had much of an impact on the first team and they are pretty much all kids, anyhow but it’s just more squad depth that the Reds will be without for the remaining months of the season.
Spurs actually have a completely clear bill of health, with the first team reporting no new injuries at all. They have long term absentees Toby Alderwiereld and Danny Rose missing though. Which is immensely lucky for the Reds as they had a lot of success against Ben Davies in recent seasons.
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They will also have new signing Lucas Moura available, who signed for £25m from PSG in the closing days of the transfer window. However it may be too early for the Brazilian.
It’s the ordinary things for Jurgen Klopp to decide this weekend, and despite the bad decisions that he may have made in the past in terms of team selection and in particular, substitutions. There aren’t many blistering questions for Klopp here. He will undoubtedly field the strongest team possible.
The biggest decision will be in midfield, with everyone pretty much fit through the middle other than Adam Lallana. My guess would be that Jordan Henderson starts with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Emre Can after the Ox was rested on Monday night.
Loris Karius will retain the goalkeeper position and I desperately want Klopp to start Dejan Lovren alongside Virgil van Dijk in the heart of defence but after comments out in the media about Lovren ‘rejuvenating’ his career I think it’s best if the Croatian is omitted from the XI just because they will 100% come back to haunt us.Embed from Getty Images
Joe Gomez really needs to wake up and keep his concentration for an entire game if he is to retain his position in the team over Nathaniel Clyne when he returns to the fray, and there is always the shout for Trent Alexander-Arnold too. Also, I think Klopp would be stupid to drop Andy Robertson after the great run of form the Scot is enjoying.
The front three picks itself, obviously, because be arsed having Danny Ings starting in one of the biggest games of the season.
Liverpool: Simon Mignolet; Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson; Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Emre Can; Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah.
Spurs: Hugo Lloris; Serge Aurier, Davinson Sanchez, Jan Vertonghen, Ben Davies; Eric Dier, Moussa Dembele; Son Heung-Min, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli; Harry Kane.
Liverpool come into the game off the back of a very professional win over Huddersfield, whilst Spurs come into the game as one of the most in-form sides in the Premier League. I can talk about how Spurs will come into the game looking to repeat how the picked apart Manchester United last week, but with the previous 4-1 at Wembley, I think form is going to go out of the window as the Reds look for revenge, but I know know what you know and I know that this isn’t going to be that simple of a game.
The Key Battle: Jordan Henderson vs Dele Alli.Embed from Getty Images
Recently, Dele Alli hasn’t been his all conquering self, and this could be a great opportunity for Jordan Henderson to show his class. Henderson has come under scrutiny from many Liverpool fans and most of the unwarranted criticism is difficult to see as people create reasons to put pressure on the captain, but that’s what he is. Our captain. If he didn’t have the ability, he simply wouldn’t be. Get over yourselves Liverpool fans, get behind our captain rather than pleading with that fake-ass German model Emre Can wanting him to sign a new contract that he will never.
What Klopp Said:
“We have a few nice options where we could make changes or not. The last game was good.”
“It’s the most similar game to playing City. When you play one of the best teams in the world you have to put in your best performance.”
“Even if Sadio isn’t at his best he is still a threat. You have to go through and build on the good things. Sadio on average day is still a fantastic player.”
“The young lads we sent on loan to other clubs, we think they are ready. We had the plan to strengthen the U23 but we have young players who can make the step up.”
on VVD: “I’m very happy with him. Few ups and downs. We will see Van Dijk at his best after the summer. He has to get used to this style of play. Everton, outstanding, Swansea, good, West Brom, bad game for whole team.”
on Henderson: “He’s a fantastic player. He didn’t prove that to me at Huddersfield, it was clear before. Hopefully he stays fit for the rest of the season – important for Liverpool and England.”
“Spurs were sharp and awake the whole game v Man United. You don’t often keep United as far away from your goal as Spurs did in that game.”
on defeat to Spurs at Wembley: “It wasn’t a good game for us. They had a good start. It has nothing to do with this game. We’re really looking forward to this game.”
on Jan window: “We did what we thought was right. Would I have preferred to keep Philippe Coutinho? Of course but I thought it was sensible to do it (sell him).”
After the transfer window closed, the biggest question was “are we ready for the rest of the season?” The game against Spurs will be a good indicator of whether we have completely ballsed up our chances of top four or if we are still fully in the mix. It’s going to be a cagey affair in my opinion, with the Reds desperate for a win and Spurs equally thirsty for all three points, but in true, eternal optimist fashion I think it’ll finish 2-0 to the Reds, and exact repeat of last season’s Anfield fixture with Sadio Mane scoring both goals. The game will start and finish with a handshake but that won’t be the end of the competition between the two sides this season as we both vie for a Champions League berth. However I do think the dust will settle when we look back on this fixture next year and say, “Wow, that was really important for that team” whichever team it ends up being.