It feels as though quite a lot has changed since the last time Liverpool faced off against Tottenham. The two sides met in the EFL Cup in October, Liverpool defeating Spurs 2-1 in an uptempo match at Anfield while in the league the Reds had just begun what would become a dominant run of form through the autumn.
Before that, there had been a cagey but energetic 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane during the first month of the season, two top four hopefuls jockeying for position. Now, it’s Spurs who have separated and sit second, while Liverpool have dropped out of the top four. But that doesn’t mean Spurs are expecting an easy win.
“It will be a very, very tough game for both sides,” Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino told reporters at his pre-match press conference today as his side prepare to make the journey north to Liverpool for Saturday’s match. “Like always when we play against Liverpool it will be a very high tempo, very intense.”
Pochettino’s side started a more slowly than Liverpool’s, but with both sides—and both managers—embracing a high press system, it has been Pochettino’s Spurs who have grown into the season while Liverpool have seen their legs begin to tire, worn down by injuries and a thin squad during the busy winter schedule.
For Liverpool, now back to playing just a game a week, Saturday represents an opportunity to get their season back on track and to get back into the top four. For Spurs, it’s a chance to improve their own top four hopes by dealing a blow to a rival for the Champions League places in a game neither side can afford to lose.
“Maybe we are similar,” noted Pochettino,” but not quite the same in our principle. I respect Liverpool a lot and the way they play, so we need to be clever—like them, to be clever. It will be very high tempo.”