Liverpool vs Tottenham
| Wednesday, December 16th |
Premier League | Anfield
8PM BST /3PM EST
It’s a clash at the top of the table as the Reds host a red-hot Spurs side who can not stop scoring their first shot of every game.
It’s been over six years since the last time Tottenham sat in first place of the Premier League table, and it is perhaps not surprising that it happens in a year when the presumed top sides are having middling seasons, as the pace-setters are currently averaging less than 2.1 points per game, something that would equate to just 79 points over the course of the full 38 games.
Leading this charge to the top has been the outrageous goalscoring and playmaking form of Son Heung-Min and Harry Kane, respectively, with the former scoring ten goals and the latter assisting the same number in the opening 12 matches of the season. As both totals sit a bonkers 150% over their expected values, there is an argument to be had that Spurs are perhaps overperforming somewhat, and with Jose Mourinho getting to sit back and counter in virtually every game thus far as a result of scoring early, further suggestions that it might not last seem reasonable.
That is not to say that Tottenham are not one of the better teams in the league. The aforementioned attackers are undoubtedly world-class, and Giovani Lo Celso and Tanguy Ndombele are both outstanding creative midfielders who, buttressed by a typically defensively stout Mourinho defense, have been allowed to flourish this season.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Fabinho, Robertson; Henderson, Jones, Wijnaldum; Mané, Firmino, Salah
On Liverpool’s end, and despite Mourinho’s deluded assertion that they don’t matter, it is difficult to circumvent the issue of injuries entirely. Joël Matip was substituted after 45 minutes at the weekend, leading to a centre-back partnership of non-defenders Jordan Henderson and Fabinho, and the Cameroonian international will be subject to a matchday fitness test. Should he fail, a return for either Rhys Williams or Nat Phillips seems unavoidable.
Trent Alexander-Arnold is back after missing six weeks through injury, and could play 90 minutes for the second time since October, while Kostas Tsimikas’ knee injury means Andrew Robertson will continue playing every single minute possible this year.
In midfield, Naby Keïta could be in line for a return, although probably not in the starting XI, while James Milner, Xherdan Shaqiri and Thiago remain unavailable, meaning a continued reliance on the stalwart Georginio Wijnaldum and the impressive Curtis Jones is on the cards.
Up top, Diogo Jota misses out with a knee injury that will see him sidelined until February, so the famous front three of Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah will return.
What the Managers Said
Jürgen Klopp: “The way they play this year is really good. He turned them into a result machine. They got results, they have good performances, if they are not on their top, they still win. They defend collectively, all this kind of stuff. So, very impressive.”
Jose Mourinho: “As ever I’m the real victim here me me me.”
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Assistant referees: Gary Beswick, Adam Nunn
Fourth official: Mike Dean
VAR: Chris Kavanagh, Peter Kirkup
Kickoff is set for 8PM GMT/3PM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV.
In the meantime, and as always, 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 the action as it happens.