After an eventful international break, the English Premier League will return with a bang. On Sunday evening, Liverpool will host Tottenham in what is usually a goal fest. This time there is all to play for, with the Reds still in with a chance of European football next season, whilst Spurs are gunning for their first ever Premier League title.
To Win Match
Liverpool 31/20 | Draw 9/4 | Tottenham 18/10
Liverpool’s hopes of a top-four spot were dented last time out as Southampton dramatically snatched all three points at St Mary’s, coming from two goals down to clinch a hard-earned 3-2 victory. Despite the loss, the Reds remain seven points off the Champions League places and will be desperate to return to winning ways. Prior to the Southampton defeat, Liverpool were on a three-match winning streak, scoring 11 goals and conceding just once in that phenomenal run.
Manager, Jurgen Klopp has called on his side to “fight” their way through a tricky April schedule. The Reds have Europa League games against his former club Borussia Dortmund as well as a raft of Premier League fixtures coming up in the month ahead. With silverware still up for grabs and European qualification to be secured, the German coach is relishing the challenges ahead and says it will test the depth of his squad. This feeling that Liverpool might be on an exciting path is just one of many differences between Klopp’s team and Brendan Rodgers’ version, even while the supporters wait for those win percentages to diverge.
Furthermore, with the club still in with a chance of silverware – notably the Europa League – there is an opportunity for Klopp to deliver in his first season what Rodgers could not come up with in three full campaigns – a trophy. That would be something to sustain supporters over the summer and increase the belief that Klopp’s impact will really be felt in 2016/17. But let’s get back to this weekend’s EPL blockbuster! Philippe Coutinho looked to have his shooting boots on in recent weeks.
The Brazilian has scored more goals in all competitions for Liverpool in 2015-16 than in any other previous campaign with nine, and has found the back of the net in his last two matches in all competitions for Liverpool. Since his return from injury, Daniel Sturridge has been fairly quiet, but the English forward did manage to get a goal against Southampton before the international break, which will hopefully give him the confidence and momentum he needs to push forward and improve on his season tally. On his day, the 26-year old can cause havoc for his opposition with his silky touches, constant movement, trickery, pace and eye for goal – beware Tottenham!
The dream continues for Tottenham after Mauricio Pochettino’s men put an epic beat-down on Bournemouth at White Hart Lane last time out, and the match wasn’t even as close as the 3-0 scoreline might indicate. It was one of the best Spurs’ team efforts of the season and keeps them five points behind Leicester City. After a 2-1 loss to Dortmund in the last 16 of the Europa League (and 5-1 aggregate defeat), Tottenham did well to rally against Bournemouth. It was a case of great managerial skills, tactical decisions and wise decision making on behalf of Tottenham boss Pochettino.
Early in February, several newspapers ran a story claiming Sir Alex Ferguson rated Tottenham boss Pochettino as the best manager in the Premier League. It’s a big claim but with the season entering its final stretch, Tottenham remain firmly in the hunt for the Premier League title. They have not won the league since 1961 – but they are second in the table, five points behind Leicester. And if the men from the Lane do go on to clinch the title, their 44-year-old Argentine manager will undoubtedly be given a huge amount of credit for what would be an achievement as stunning as it was unexpected.
Pochettino has groomed Spurs into genuine title contenders. Young, vibrant and, with the best defence and most goals in the Premier League, Tottenham are looking menacing. The rationale behind Pochettino’s off-field demands is simple enough. His vision for how football should be played can only be truly executed by players capable of intense pressing high up the pitch. Particularly impressive is how Pochettino’s belief in this approach has never really wavered regardless of the opposition or circumstance.
Getting back to this remarkable team, they have won six of their last eight matches, including two on the spin. And it may be a team performance, but there are a few players who have been the difference at times this season. Dele Alli for one has been a standout player for the majority of the campaign. The 19-year old has assisted four goals in his last three games, so if he isn’t on the scoresheet, he is helping his teammates get on. But the man of the moment goes to Harry Kane. His brace against Bournemouth before the international break took his tally to 23 goals from his last 30 appearances in all competitions for Spurs. Kane is top of the scoring charts in the league with 21 goals, and will be hungry to keep that form up when Tottenham travel to Anfield this weekend.
Verdict: Liverpool + Both Teams To Score (38/10)
Two managers with similar styles makes for quite a dicey encounter, especially with the quality both teams posses. The reverse tie, which was Klopp’s first game in charge of Liverpool, ended in a goalless draw. However, prior to that meeting, the Reds had won five on the trot against Spurs, scoring 20 goals and conceding just twice. Liverpool are tipped to return to winning ways, with Both Teams To Score at 38/10.