The international break is over and the Premier League is back this weekend and to start the action off, league leaders Liverpool will travel to north London to face Tottenham Hotspur. Not a bad way to resume club football!
The new stadium saga is an ongoing issue for Spurs, so this game will be played at Wembley, a venue where Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp endured their lowest point last season.
The Reds were convincingly beaten 4-1 last year with Dejan Lovren having a nightmare of a game against Harry Kane. Hence, a feeling of revenge will be at the back of every player’s mind when they visit the stadium on Saturday.
This encounter starts a run of seven games in 23 days for Liverpool, out of which, six are against high-quality opponents. The other one is against Southampton which won’t be easy given the tightly-knit schedule of games.
For Spurs, they have to respond after buckling under pressure against Watford just before the international break. Manager Mauricio Pochettino will be eager to get things right before their Champions League run begins.
The history of Tottenham v Liverpool has been goal-rich, so we can expect the net to bulge in the afternoon, it only remains to be which side does it more.
Let us take a look at the four key battles, which, if won, will tilt the game towards a particular team’s favour:
Harry Kane & Lucas Moura v Virgil van Dijk & Jow Gomez
Pochettino has been deploying Lucas Moura in a role just around Harry Kane. This ploy was lethal against Manchester United as the Brazilian’s pace was used to great effect. Expect a similar flexible front two to start against Liverpool.
The Reds have been defensively sound this season, conceding just the one goal in four games, that coming because of a goalkeeping mistake.
Both Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez has been superb together. They complement each other and understand the game with profound ease.
It will be interesting to see how they handle the pace and ruthlessness of Kane and Moura. If the defenders get an upper hand in this battle, Liverpool should win this game.
Liverpool's front three vs Spurs' defence
Well, if Tottenham’s attack is fearsome, Liverpool’s is one of the best in the world. The trio of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are just irresistible with pace, power, finishing ability and unreal movement causing havoc in the minds of the defenders.
Spurs have a very good record defensively in the past few seasons, but that will be put to test when the Red arrows come at them with pace. Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and/or Davinson Sanchez will have to be at their best.
Naby Keita vs Christian Eriksen
Keita has made a swift transition into Liverpool’s midfield upon his arrival this summer. He seems to be the man who can add a creative edge from midfield. The Guinean has it all in terms of attributes. Expect him to play a crucial role in the game.
Christian Eriksen is one of those players who can play in several positions and can have a similar impact. Pochettino might deploy him in a slightly deeper role to dictate the midfield with his accurate passing and guile.
The Dane against Keita will be an interesting battle to watch out for. Both players like the ball at their feet with markers in close proximity. The player who impacts more can help his team dominate the midfield.
Battle of the fullbacks/wingbacks
Both teams have fantastic and ambitious fullbacks who will be up against each other on Saturday. The good thing about all of them is the defensive sturdiness they show when required.
So, the clashes of Kieran Trippier vs Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold vs Danny Rose/Ben Davies will be decisive. Both managers like to set up in a way that allows their full-backs to have the freedom of the touchline to move up and down.