TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR VS. LIVERPOOL
| Saturday, September 30th |
Premier League | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
5:30PM GMT/12:30PM EST
Rodrigo Bentancur, Giovani Lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon will not be fit for this match, and Brennan Johnson and James Maddison, both of whom picked up knocks in the North London Derby, will face late fitness tests.
In all competitions against Liverpool, Tottenham have won one match in the last 23: a 4-1 victory at home in October 2017. Liverpool are unbeaten in this particular stadium, which opened in 2019, winning three and drawing one. The Reds will hope to continue this dominance, while Angelos Postecoglou’s new-look Spurs will for their part hope to continue building their promising new chapter. (Note: The Spurs boss was a childhood Red. Do us a favor, big Ange?)
Spurs under Postecoglou will look somewhat familiar vibe-wise to Liverpool fans, as the team looks like it has belief in its abilities and a willingness to play for their manager for the first time in some time — and their manager’s interactions with the fanbase has galvanized them into belief as well. This wont be the first place to say that it does have a hint of the early Jürgen Klopp at Liverpool about it, though all that means for this match in particular is that Spurs will have fight for the full 90 minutes and the atmosphere is likely to be lively. Since we don’t particularly care about the long-term fortunes of Tottenham Hotspur, that’s about all that matters. In terms of “willingness to fight”: the only team who have gained more points from losing positions than Tottenham this season (8) is Liverpool (9). This should be an “it’s not over until it’s over” match.
Spurs will probably be the happier of the two teams coming out of last weekend’s North London Derby, even if they both shared the point. While Arsenal are trying to climb back up to last season’s title-challenging heights, Spurs are taking a measure of themselves at the moment — and they showed themselves to be up to Arsenal’s challenge, even if the Gunners did fall into the derby-ness of it all.
Tottenham come into this match seven unbeaten in all competitions this season, and sit fourth on the table (W4 D2). They also don’t have European football this year, so they are more rested and have more time to prepare than other top sides; as Jürgen Klopp has said in his pre-match press conference, “Getting into the Champions League will be a massive and a difficult task this year because of well-rested big animals [in Chelsea and Tottenham].”
In terms of the stats, Postecoglou is unbeaten in 40 at home as head coach of both Spurs and Tottenham, and this season they have all wins at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. They last lost at home at the end of last season, falling 3-1 to Brentford in May 2023.
Predicted Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konaté, Van Dijk, Robertson; Szoboszlai, Mac Allister, Jones; Salah, Jota, Diaz
Thiago remains sidelined with his injury, and Stefan Bajcetic is also out of contention with a minor calf issue. Trent Alexander-Arnold, however, has returned from fitness after his hamstring injury, and could return to the starting line-up Saturday.
For all the talk about Liverpool’s defense, the reality is more game-state than anything: though Liverpool have conceded first far too many times, they have also conceded the second-least goals (5) after league leaders Manchester City (2). It’s an interesting quandary, because Liverpool have certainly conceded more chances than they want (and the goals conceded tally doesn’t really show how open some first halves have been — though equally some conceded goals have come from opponents’ only major chances).
Though the data sample size is too small to be meaningful at this juncture, it may be worth noting that Liverpool have given up xGA of between 7 and 8 (depending on where you look for your numbers) in the league and have conceded seven, so Alisson has not quite bailed the Reds out of trouble as yet.
Nonetheless, giving up chances is a problem. While Liverpool aren’t too far off Manchester City in the goals against column, City have held opponents to far fewer chances to start the season in all competitions, with only two matches with xGA values of 1.0 or above; in contrast, Liverpool have only three matches below that threshold, and one (Newcastle) above 2.0. What does this mean? Simply that while the situation is perhaps not as dire as it looks in context (conceding first will always feel and look worse), there are clear defensive issues that need to be addressed.
Most of those are tied to the press being less effective than in times past, allowing teams to build more easily and catch Liverpool in transition. The shift to an inverted fullback (usually Alexander-Arnold) has perhaps been aimed at a fix for this, though it is still a mixed bag. As Tifo IRL has pointed out, though, the main difference in Liverpool’s unbeaten run has been the inclusion of Curtis Jones: Jones being in the side helps Liverpool retain the ball and limits the Reds getting caught in defensive transition (want more detail? The Tifo video link above goes into more detail).
Tottenham will be a test. While Spurs aren’t settled by any means, they certainly do pose an organized threat, and Liverpool will have to handle a lot of direct running and clever build-up (and will hope that this match comes too soon for Maddison, who looks a key signing for them). Son Heung-min, now Tottenham captain, loves scoring against Liverpool, netting in his last three appearances against the Reds. Even without Maddison acting as the glue, Tottenham have plenty of threats — and we can expect it all to mean a bit more to Richarlison.
Of course, Liverpool’s firepower is something to behold, and the Reds come off two wins that showed how many different combinations this team has to score. They’ll hope to continue that in a stadium that is a tougher place to go, against opposition certainly stronger than Championship leaders Leicester City.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jurgen Klopp: “I think we are better prepared than we look sometimes. There’s a lot of work to do and it is a long, long road and Tottenham is a tough game, it’s a tough week with Tottenham away then Union at home and Brighton away. It’s a tough week. So, if we want, these are all tests; clear. But it’s better to go in these kind of games and these kind of tests with good results in your bag than with bad results in your bag because it just feels better. Now let’s see what we can make.”
Angelos Postecoglou: “I think from when Jürgen [Klopp] came, the tempo and intensity was another level. The Premier League has always been an intense league but he took it to another level.”
Referee: Simon Hooper Assistants: Adrian Holmes, Simon Long Fourth official: Michael Oliver VAR: Darren England Assistant VAR: Dan Cook
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