After being held to a disappointing 0-0 draw last weekend against Manchester United, the goal explosion of midweek against NK Maribor felt like it had been brewing for some time. The talent this team has up top, even without Sadio Mané or Adam Lallana, is simply too impressive to stay flaccid for long. With braces for both Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino and a goal for Coutinho, the whole gang got in on the action in Slovenia.
If Liverpool want to prove they’ve really gotten their groove back, they’re going up against the right team with which to do it. Spurs have one of the most in-form players in England — if not all of Europe — with Harry Kane. The attacker already has six league goals to his name so far in this campaign. The thought of him running at Liverpool’s back line is enough to give any of Anfield’s faithful heart palpitations. Harry Kane vs. Dejan Lovren: welcome to my nightmares tonight.
Spurs’ performances, while not always pretty, have gotten the job done. They sit in third place behind the Manchester teams with 17 points on the board and top of their very difficult Champions League group.
Liverpool have kept two clean sheets in a row, though both were against opposition that seemed uninterested in creating their own goals. Last season the team did well to stifle most of Spurs’ attacking impetuous, shutting out Kane completely and allowing only one goal between both league encounters.
In Liverpool’s favor is the fact that Spurs also played mid-week, and unlike the Reds they didn’t get the luxury of a joyful seven goal romp against lower opposition. Instead, they gutted out a hard-fought 1-1 draw with the reigning Champions League winners, Real Madrid. The result should certainly buoy the team, but the effort is also likely to have taken its toll.
One way that’s already evident is with the injury of Mousa Dembélé, who hurt his hip while training in Madrid. Pochettino will therefore once again be forced to set up on Sunday without both Dembélé as well as Victor Wanyama, who is still out with a knee injury.
Liverpool have not lost to Spurs in the league for a long time. It’s been nine games without a loss, in fact, and some of the Reds’ best matches of the last few seasons have come against them. That fact should bring comfort, but it’s hard not to feel nervous that Liverpool’s luck may be close to running out when it comes to the Lilywhites.
Looking to prevent that from happening should be captain Jordan Henderson, who is set to return to the midfield after his absence against Maribor. The en fuego Salah will be back on the pitch as well, playing alongside Firmino and Coutinho. The three of them should have more opportunities to shine against Spurs’ open style of play than against Manchester United. Of course, the reverse is also true, and Spurs will be much more aggressive and eager to test Liverpool’s shaky back line than the ultra-defensive Red Devils.
For Liverpool (4-3-3):
Mignolet; Gomez, Matip, Lovren, Moreno; Can, Henderson, Milner; Salah, Firmino, Coutinho
The only real question mark for Klopp is in the midfield. James Milner had such an impressive game mid-week that he may get another chance to start. In that case, expect it to be the flagging Georginio Wijnaldum, then, to make way and get a rest after several starts in a row. It’s possible, though, that Klopp doesn’t think Milner can perform twice in one week and will revert back to the familiar Can-Hendo-Gini midfield instead.
Does Alexander-Arnold keep his place in the line-up after bagging himself a second Champions League goal? It wouldn’t be completely surprising, but odds are that Joe Gomez returns to play right-back, as Klopp has been vocal about not overworking his younger players.
On the injury front, Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne, and Sadio Mané remain unavailable for the Reds. Mané and Lallana are both about a month out, so though neither are anywhere near ready for this match, Liverpool could potentially be looking at a joyful festive period to end the year. That is, of course, assuming that the team gets no other terrible news before then (tap wood).
Kickoff is set for 4:00PM BST/11:00AM EST tomorrow on Sky Sports Main Event in the UK and NBCSN in the US. Elsewhere, Optus Sport in Australia, Sportsnet in Canada, Star Sports Select HD1 in India, SuperSport3 Africa in Kenya, Astro SuperSport 3 in Malaysia, SuperSport 3 Nigeria in Nigeria, 102 (HD) mio Stadium in Singapore, and SuperSport 3 in South Africa are carrying the match. BBC Radio 5 Live and LFCTV Go provide online options to follow the game. You can find full listings at LivesoccerTV.
We'll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it's released, our live matchday thread and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on all the action as it happens.