Two top four hopefuls meet when Tottenham Hotspur entertain Liverpool at White Hart Lane on Sunday (13:30 BST, live on Sky Sports).
Tottenham have made a promising start to the season with victories to nil over West Ham and Queen’s Park Rangers. They finished sixth despite a tumultuous campaign last season and will be hoping for more stability, and success, under new coach Mauricio Pochettino (pictured).
Spurs were certainly highly impressive in their 4-0 thrashing of QPR last weekend. The away side were very poor, but Spurs took full advantage with a display of vibrant and incisive attacking football. The fluid attacking midfield line of Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela (two assists) and Nacer Chadli (two goals) were excellent, cutting through QPR at will.
Pochettino did an excellent job at Southampton last season and there are already signs that he is bringing more structure and coherence to Tottenham’s play. The club brought in seven new players last summer, but many of them struggled to make the anticipated impact in a season of two coaches and little continuity. Stability should beget improved performances.
Spurs had the worst defence of the top eight finishers last season and the majority of their summer business has centred around addressing this deficiency. Michel Vorm will provide highly competent cover for goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, while Ben Davies, Eric Dier and Federico Fazio have added further strength to Tottenham’s defensive options.
Kyle Walker (pelvis) and Roberto Soldado (back) are both injury doubts for Sunday’s match, but Pochettino otherwise has a full squad to pick from. New signing Fazio is expected to be part of the matchday squad.
Liverpool began the season with a nervy 2-1 victory at home to Southampton before falling to a 3-1 defeat away to Manchester City on Monday. They finished second last season, but maintaining their place in the top four is probably a more realistic goal this time around.
The Reds started brightly against City, pressing high up the pitch, seeing a lot of the ball and regularly seeking to get in behind the home defence. They did, not, however, create many chances of particular note. City took the lead through Stevan Jovetic on the stroke of half-time and scored twice more after the break to condemn Liverpool to defeat.
Liverpool’s situation this season is similar to that experienced by Spurs following the sale of Gareth Bale last summer. They have used the proceeds from the transfer of Luis Suarez to Barcelona to partially fund the purchase of seven new first team players and it will undoubtedly take some time for these new signings to settle in and perform as expected.
Suarez was involved in 42.6% of Liverpool’s goals last season (31 goals and 12 assists) and it is unlikely that any of the new signings will provide that same individual contribution to Liverpool’s season. Brendan Rodgers does, on paper, have a much stronger squad than last season, but the first XI does, for now at least, look weaker without Suarez.
Adam Lallana (knee), Daniel Agger (knee) and Jon Flanagan (knee) will not be available to Rodgers for the trip to White Hart Lane, while there are doubts, too, over Alberto Moreno (ankle), Glen Johnson (thigh) and Jose Enrique (knock). New signing Mario Balotelli is expected to be involved.
Spurs vs Liverpool Betting Tips Verdict
Liverpool recorded commanding victories in both of last season’s fixtures, winning 5-0 away and 4-0 at home. The win in London was their first at White Hart Lane since 2008 and snapped Spurs’ six-match home winning streak against the Reds. The last 10 meetings in all competitions have seen the teams record four wins apiece, with two matches ending in draws.
Spurs played very naively in both of the matches last season, allowing Liverpool too much time and space to pick out passes in behind their defence. Pochettino is unlikely to be so foolish and will attempt to strike a better balance between defence and attack. The varied final-third movement practised against QPR is sure to cause Liverpool problems.
Liverpool have brought in a large number of new players and it is perhaps unfair to expect them to produce performances akin to those they managed during their incredible run of results over the second half of last season this early into the new campaign. With a shaky defence and a less incisive attack than last year, they currently look a little vulnerable.
- Back Spurs +0 on an Asian Handicap @ best odds of 19/20 with Bet365 or BetVictor. The bet pays out if Spurs win, while your stake is returned if the match ends in a draw
- Pochettino’s Southampton side opened the scoring in 12 of their 19 home matches last season, often doing so within the opening half hour of play. Spurs came out on the front foot against QPR last weekend and can be expected to do so again on Sunday. Back Tottenham Hotspur to score first @ evens with Betfair Sportsbook.