Premier League | White Hart Lane | Sun 15 Dec | 4pm
It’s intriguing that, despite Liverpool having enjoyed such a good start and Spurs faltering, the two clubs go into Sunday’s fixture just three points apart.
The biggest difference between the pair is perhaps that, while Spurs cashed in on their star man, Liverpool held on to theirs.
- Tottenham 4-1 Anzhi (EL)
- S'land 1-2 Tottenham (Prem)
- Fulham 1-2 Tottenham (Prem)
- Tottenham 2-2 Man Utd (Prem)
- Tromso 0-2 Tottenham (EL)
- Liverpool 4-1 West Ham (Prem)
- Liverpool 5-1 Norwich (Prem)
- Hull 3-1 Liverpool (Prem)
- Everton 3-3 Liverpool (Prem)
- Liverpool 4-0 Fulham (Prem)
Tottenham’s biggest shortcoming is the direct result of Gareth Bale leaving and a new set of attacking players attempting to fill the void before even being given the chance to adapt to life in the Premier League.
Liverpool, on the other hand, look like a well-oiled machined, but you have to wonder where the Reds would be without Luis Suarez. While they had been playing well before the Uruguayan returned from his 10-match ban, their recent performances – particularly at home - have highlighted that there’s no substitute for world-class ability.
Spurs have finally started to score goals, and although these have still largely been in the form of 20-yard screamers, set-pieces and own goals, the signs are there that things are starting to click in open play. Jermain Defoe alone could have scored a hat-trick from the chances created for him against Sunderland.
Tottenham will once again re-jig their defence as Jan Vertonghen is set to miss their festive fixtures with an ankle ligament injury. Danny Rose should return at left-back with Vlad Chiriches joining Michael Dawson at the heart of the defence.
With Steven Gerrard missing for Liverpool, Joe Allen will partner Lucas in the Liverpool engine room. Gerrard’s absence is a big loss for Liverpool, particularly at a ground where they’ve not had much success in the past few years, losing on every visit since the last day of the 2007/08 season.
Player to watch: Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
Who else? The Reds’ frontman has scored 14 goals in 10 games, with six in his previous two (including the deflected effort against West Ham initially credited as a Joey O’Brien own goal). Almost as impressive as his goalscoring, which has included an almost obscene number of wonder strikes, has been his ability to carry Liverpool and dribble past defenders at will.
Against West Ham, he was successful with 7 of his 13 take-ons, 5 of these in the box and 2 just outside the area. Spurs may profit from taking a lesson from Hull, Liverpool’s last away game which the Reds lost 3-1. Against the Tigers, Suarez was left to pick up the ball in deeper more congested midfield areas, leading to 6 take-ons, all of which failed. Liverpool as an attacking force were nullified as a result.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- L'pool 3-2 Spurs (Prem, Mar 13)
- Spurs 2-1 L'pool (Prem, Nov 12)
- L'pool 0-0 Spurs (Prem, Feb 12)
- Spurs 4-0 L'pool (Prem, Sep 11)
- L'pool 0-2 Spurs (Prem, May 11)
This is yet another meeting of two Jose Mourinho protégés; one under fire, the other revelling in his club’s best start to a Premier League season since 2008/09, the last campaign in which Liverpool qualified for the Champions League. That Spurs are one point better off than this point last season, when they would record their highest Premier League points total, suggests that criticism of Andre Villas-Boas in recent weeks has been a little harsh.
Both play a similar system, although Rodgers has shown more of a willingness to adapt his system to suit his players, switching to a 3-5-2 to accommodate Suarez and Sturridge.
With Sturridge out for a month, Liverpool will most likely line-up in the formation de jour for any aspirant side, 4-2-3-1. It’s the formation AVB has been doggedly sticking to all season, despite a struggling in front of goal.
Recent performances suggest Spurs could make this system work for them, and there might be a lesson to be taken from Rodgers’ willingness to switch the team around to accommodate the goalscorers. It is, after all, the area where Tottenham have been lacking so far this season.
TIPS & TRENDS
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Facts and figures
- Liverpool have fired in more shots on target than any other team in the top flight this season (97).
- Liverpool have scored four own goals at White Hart Lane, the joint-highest figure of any team on any ground in Premier League history (along with Southampton at St James Park & West Ham at Anfield).
- Tottenham against Liverpool has seen the joint-most penalties in Premier League history (17 along with Everton v Newcastle), though 11 of them have been at Anfield.
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Delightfully impossible to predict... but we'll nudge it in Liverpool's favour. 1-2.