LIVERPOOL VS. TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
| Saturday, May 7th |
Premier League | Anfield
7:45PM GMT/3:45AM EST
Look, I’ve got nerves for this one. The lads are so close to immortality you can almost taste it.
Liverpool dropped points against Spurs this season, and Antonio Conte’s Spurs have done the double over City (after winning on the opening day). That said, they last won at Anfield in 2011 (picking up two draws in that period, in 2016 and 2018 — a draw would be just as bad, really).
In terms of away form, Spurs have played 19, won eight, drawn five, and lost six. Four of those six losses have come against big six sides (and West Ham) over the course of the season. They haven’t beaten any top six side away in the league other than, you know, Manchester City.
The atmosphere will be key, as we want to make it as hard for Spurs as possible. We know our lads will be up for it. They want the immortality even more than we do on their behalf.
When we played Spurs in December it was an exciting game for the worst reasons: Andy Robertson scored (he could have had a brace after going close in the opening minute), but was later sent off for a challenge on Emerson Royal — a fair enough sending off though Harry Kane could well have seen red for a similar challenge prior to this.
The Reds played a much-changed side, with Tyler Morton and James Milner in midfield during the busy holiday period. Spurs had piled the pressure on, with both Ibrahima Konaté and later even Alisson (uncharacteristically) not having their best games.
Liverpool will certainly be stronger in this matchup, though Spurs will as well: new boy Dejan Kulusevski has been massive for them, combining well with an in-form Son Heung-min (who is pushing Mohamed Salah for Golden Boot) and Harry Kane. Kulusevski got a breather in Spurs’ win against Leicester at the weekend, coming on to lodge two assists.
Given the pace (and chemistry) of the Spurs attack, Liverpool will need to look to limit service into them and to avoid complacency in the defensive line.
While Tottenham are certainly dangerous, their form is less consistent than their highlights might make you believe: they won against Leicester at home on Sunday after drawing to Brentford (A), losing to Brighton (H), and winning heavily against both Aston Villa (A) and Newcastle (H). Though these last two wins came in a stretch of four consecutive wins (West Ham at home and Brighton away), for the most part they’ve struggled to put two wins together, largely alternating WLWLWL since January.
Tottenham have had more time to prepare and are fighting hard for a top four place. This will most definitely be a challenge, while City, coming off their disappointing (for them) Champions League exit, face Newcastle at home — an entirely different proposition.
Predicted Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Fabinho, Henderson, Thiago; Salah, Jota, Díaz
Manager Jürgen Klopp has been making one or two changes each match to maintain squad fitness, and there’s no reason to think anything will change now that the Reds have added a game to their schedule (in the small matter of the Champions League final).
It’s possible that Andy Robertson could get a breather (despite being the main character in the reverse fixture), and Joël Matip could return to the side — though Ibrahima Konaté’s pace would be helpful in dealing with the Spurs front line.
Kostas Tsimikas, who came on to get a few minutes against Villarreal, could well feature here or against Villa at the weekend: notably, the manager has lately enjoyed subbing a player on late in one game to start him in the next (CC: Joe Gomez), and Tsimikas came on mid-week.
The same pattern could hold for Luis Díaz, though the front three is anyone’s guess. Bobby Firmino has returned to full training, though Klopp hinted that he is likely to remain just training for a bit — maybe a return to the lineup against Aston Villa? You would think Mohamed Salah will be asked to go again; whether we see Diogo Jota or Sadio Mané through the middle is possibly a flip of a coin.
Given the threat that Tottenham pose, I would hope we see as close to a full-strength side as possible; this one feels like a major challenge.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jurgen Klopp: “[Tottenham] have speed like crazy up front, Harry Kane, what a player, they have a blind understanding (the front men). It’s probably the biggest challenge for protection we’ve faced in a long time. We have to find a way to keep them calm as often as possible.”
Antonio Conte: “Jurgen Klopp is doing a great job with this team, especially for an English team to arrive at the end of the season to stay in the race for all the competitions you compete in, I think that it’s incredible because you can see Liverpool’s players. They run a lot and they don’t have many injuries. They’re doing a fantastic job. Their enthusiasm is 200% and you don’t feel fatigue at this point.
We need to go there and play our game. We are in the race for a place in the Champions League and we have to find a way to get points in every game. We are playing against one of the best teams in the world away. We prepare like usual.”
Referee: Michael Oliver Assistants: Stuart Burt, Simon Bennett Fourth Official: Martin Atkinson VAR: Darren England Assistant VAR: Marc Perry.
Kickoff is set for 7:45PM GMT/3:45AM EST tomorrow. In the meantime, The Liverpool Offside team will keep you updated with all of the team news and match buildup as it becomes available, along with providing a matchday liveblog and post-match recaps and reaction. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account and have your say on the action as it happens.