Who: Liverpool vs Tottenham
When: Sunday, October 27th @ 12:30pm ET
Line: Liverpool -200 | Draw +350 | Tottenham +540
The positive UCL results came off of poor performances from both in the Premier League the previous weekend. Liverpool dropped points for the first time all season, drawing Manchester United 1-1. Tottenham dropped points for the 497th time of 2019, drawing last place Watford 1-1 at home.
Liverpool are getting an “A-game” performance from each team they face. Being champions of Europe will do that to you. Expect a feeling-good-about-themselves Tottenham side to come directly at the Reds.
Unlike their Champions League final in June, this should be an open, high-octane, counter-attacking affair.
Liverpool vs Tottenham match preview
Has there ever been a team that is unbeaten after 9 domestic games and assuredly going through their UCL group that has more doubters and lingering questions than Liverpool? The biggest issues:
- Their midfield lacks creativity.
- The attacking three look off.
- The defense is too casual.
Actually…all of those statements are true. Also true: Liverpool haven’t lost a Premier League game in almost a year and are 6 points clear of Manchester City.
Is the Genk line-up the template for future success?
Liverpool’s 4-1 win at Genk showcased all three of the above points but in different and mostly encouraging ways.
- Their midfield lacks creativity: The draw to Man U provided a template for how teams could shut down Liverpool. OGS neutralized Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson. The midfield couldn’t create build-up that led to chances. Despite a hefty possession advantage, Liverpool only got 10 shots off. Before his injury, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain provided offensive punch to the midfield. And before he came to Liverpool, Naby Keita was a classic box-to-box do-it-all midfielder. Klopp inserted both into the line-up, and they helped drive Liverpool’s attack.
- The attacking three look off: When Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino are all clicking, Liverpool are unstoppable. They’re all capable of individual moments of brilliance that has saved some games this season, but rarely have all three been “on” at the same time. Against Genk, they started to gel more and more as the game went on. Maybe it was because Genk isn’t that good. Maybe it was because the were getting the ball in better spots thanks to their new midfield. Whatever it was, the second half was the first time in awhile when the three truly looked in sync.
- The defense is too casual: Ok, this is still a problem. Virgil van Dijk has had some concentration lapses this season that didn’t happen last year. Not sure what the fix is other than “stop being so lackadaisical and focus already.”
So what will Klopp do this match? Will he roll out Ox and Keita again, hoping what he saw wasn’t just a one-off inspired performance against an inferior opponent?
Ox is the first person since Lionel Messi last year to score two UCL goals from outside the box. He was also the fastest person on the pitch Wednesday. Did Klopp pull him after 72 minutes to save him for Sunday?
Keita had the most touches, passes, completed passes, and take-ons of the entire squad against Genk. Will Klopp let him build on that?
If he does, Liverpool could put 4 or 5 up at home against Spurs. However, given how front-footed that midfield is, the Reds could give up 2-3 as well.
Tottenham have quality not playing up to their potential
As for Tottenham, they’re a fairly WYSIWYG side. We know what we’re getting with them.
Harry Kane is no longer “2016-17 Harry Kane” but he’s still among the top 15 pure strikers in the world. Son continues his strong form from last year and looks like their best player again.
After those two, there’s a drop off in quality. Christian Eriksen doesn’t look focused. Harry Winks looks amazing one game and invisible the next. Dele Alli is talented but regressing. Tanguy Ndombele has pure class moments but hasn’t been consistent.
However, their two biggest issues are: 1) the backline isn’t good enough, and 2) the team at times appear to have quit on their manager, Mauricio Pochettino.
As for Poch, we’ve written extensively on that. The abridged summation is he’s an elite manager AND his team has tuned him out. That may be partly management’s fault, as too many players are at the end of their contract.
Whatever the reason, Spurs have too many concentration lapses. They’ve conceded 22 goals in 13 matches across all competitions this season. Teams like Liverpool are expert at converting on mistakes.
Another Spurs problem is they are not good defending attacks down the wings, especially since losing Kieran Trippier. TAA, Robbo, and Ox and Keita if they play will be marauders down the flanks for 90 minutes.
Regardless of what line-up Klopp rolls out, Spurs have won exactly ZERO road games this season. Not one. That’s not changing at Anfield on Sunday. Oddsmakers view this as a 3-to-4 goal game. Agree there. Expect a 3-1 Liverpool win.