North London takes on Merseyside this Sunday. Liverpool travel to Wembley to face Spurs a few hours after Arsenal play Everton at Goodison Park.
Tottenham and Liverpool enjoyed fantastic Champions League results. While Mauricio Pochettino’s side were a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty from an historic victory at the Santiago Bernabeu, Jurgen Klopp was enjoying his side decimating Maribor 7-0.
Form in the league has been an altogether different matter for Liverpool, though. They were held to a 0-0 by a textbook Jose Mourinho low block last weekend, and have seen their flaky defence and poor finishing cost them several points already. Klopp is not quite in the ‘under pressure’ category, but the repeated shortcomings are growing a tad tiresome with elements of the Liverpool fan base.
Spurs have had a stronger start domestically. At Wembley, however, they have been unconvincing. Goals have proved hard to come by, even with the startling recent form of Harry Kane. Kane elevates the level of this Spurs side, and is great value at 14/5 to open the scoring.
These matches have been intense under Klopp and Pochettino. The pressing game of both has been reigned in from the earlier days of their respective tenures, but the middle third will still be chaotic.
Liverpool’s battle to quash any line of service to Kane will be definitive. Jordan Henderson and Emre Can will be the pair tasked with tracking Christian Eriksen, who has started the season magnificently. Henderson to pick up a card at 11/5 in 888sport's Premier League betting markets is a solid price as a result.
Combative midfield play will be the order of the day. Given the speed both teams can transition at, and the open space of the Wembley pitch, we could be seeing a fair few counter-stopping fouls. The prime candidate for one of those play-breaking trips for Spurs is Eric Dier. Dier is at the same price as Henderson of 11/5 to get his fourth card of the campaign.
Spurs could be eight points off the Premier League summit by the time they kick-off in the weekend closing fixture. If any flickering of title ambition remains for the Lilywhites this season, they cannot afford to be sitting eight behind Manchester City on Monday morning.
The common belief is that the title is a step too far – they’re at 14/1 to lift the trophy – but Pochettino will surely fancy their chances of remaining competitive deep into the second half of the season for a third consecutive term.
The visitors have already had to adjust their expectations for the year. Failure to add a centre-back and the inability to capitalise on chance creation sees them four points behind Spurs. Dropping to seven points off Spurs – and possibly three behind Chelsea – would hurt their top four chances. There are four teams vying for two top four spots, and each of these matches against one another will be massive as a result.
Defeat is more hurtful for Liverpool than Spurs. The constant lingering concern of Wembley struggles would be exaggerated again with defeat for Pochettino’s men, however. Realistically, a top four finish is as good as either team can hope for this season. Spurs put themselves in a fantastic position to do that with a win.
Liverpool’s superb top six record is widely publicised, but they will give up chances, and you cannot afford to do that with Kane around.
TIP: Spurs to win and Kane to score @ 5/2
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*