This Thursday night, after all other games in the midweek round of Premier League games have taken place, we have the biggest game of the week. Fifth placed Tottenham Hotspur welcome Liverpool to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in a game that could well end any realistic hopes that the loser has of winning the league title.
That sounds dramatic, but if Manchester United beat Sheffield United, Manchester City beat West Brom and Leicester can get the better of Everton, that would mean that before these two teams clash, they are going to be seven or eight points adrift of the top three.
Defeat here would mean that they could potentially be 10 or 11 points behind after the next round of games and while Spurs would still have a game in hand, they would find that gap extremely difficult to bridge with neither of the top three looking likely to drop points at the moment.
So it is fair to say that Thursday night’s game between Spurs and The Reds is an absolute must-win for both teams.
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So what is it that makes Thursday night’s game so important in terms of the Premier League? A quick glance at the current league table will explain why this is a must-win game for both sides.
Premier League Top Seven
As you can see Liverpool and Spurs lie in fourth and fifth place in the table. Spurs do have a game in hand though on the Reds, so if they win that they would leapfrog them into fourth. In fact, Everton and Aston Villa could also jump past Liverpool with wins in their games in hand too.
So in the race for the top four, this match is hugely important. However, it is also important for both teams to win the game in order to stay in the hunt for the title. A win for Spurs moves them just two behind Leicester and Manchester City and four behind Manchester United. A gap which is possible to claw back.
A win for Liverpool keeps them on the back of the pack too, albeit having played a game more, although by Thursday all the top three will have been in action and could have extended their lead over the Reds to at least seven points. If that is the case, then a Liverpool win here is a must.
Should either team lose, then it could leave them 9-10 points behind the top three and that is a huge bridge to gap, especially with all the top three in such good form and not dropping any points at the minute.
Tottenham v Liverpool A Historical View
Over the years, the teams have met a total of 176 times in their history and it is Liverpool who have much the better record of the two. The Reds have won 86 of those games, compared to just 48 wins for Tottenham with 42 matches finishing as a draw.
However, in recent times, it makes even more worrying reading for Spurs fans. In the last 18 fixtures between the teams, Liverpool have won 13, four games have been draws with Tottenham winning just the once. A 4-1 home win back in October 2017 when Dejan Lovren had a very famous off-day against Harry Kane and co.
Indeed, Liverpool have won all of the last six games between the two teams, including the 2019 Champions League Final as well as a 2-1 win back in December when Roberto Firmino’s late header handed the Reds a win. After that game, Jose Mourinho commented that “the best team lost”.
His charges will now have a chance to prove that on Thursday night.
Team News & Selections
Jose Mourinho has a pretty clean bill of health for his Tottenham side and I expect him to name a very strong team for this clash. The main choice for the manager is whether to stick with his 5-2-3 formation, or perhaps go back to his 4-2-3-1 formation for the game and my gut feeling is that he will go for the security of that extra man in midfield with Sissoko coming in alongside Ndombele and Hojbjerg.
- Tottenham – (4-2-3-1) – Lloris, Aurier, Reguilon, Dier, Alderweireld, Sissoko, Hojbjerg, Bergwijn, Ndombele, Son, Kane
Liverpool should have Joel Matip back in central defence after Rhys Williams had a nightmare against Manchester United at the weekend. He will likely start alongside Fabinho who has been excellent as a makeshift centre half for Liverpool. Jordan Henderson will likely miss out which is a big blow for the Reds with James Milner likely to deputise. With Diego Jota also out, it will likely be the out of form front three that get the nod for this one.
- Liverpool – (4-3-3) – Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Robertson, Matip, Fabinho, Milner, Wijnaldum, Thiago, Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Where Will The Game Be Won And Lost?
It goes without saying that without Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool’s big problem is at the heart of their defence. Kane and Son in particular will be hoping to test the Red’s makeshift back line as much as possible and to be a bit more clinical than they were against Liverpool at Anfield back in December.
Midfield will be a key area too and it should be an intriguing battle between the six players likely to be playing in that area. Whoever commands the game from here should go on to enjoy most of the possession and perhaps boss the game.
Liverpool’s chances rely on their misfiring attack finding form. They did at least score twice at Old Trafford on Sunday, Mo Salah grabbing both goals and there were signs of them stuttering into life. However, they are miles away from the unit that fired Liverpool to European and World Club Champions and the League title last season. That needs to change for this game or the Reds chances look virtually nil.
Full Time Result – The bookies have Liverpool as the favourites to land the win here, but I don’t quite agree with that. The Reds form is very poor and there is no real sign that they are anywhere near their best. With Spurs in good form, at home and with a point to prove after the Anfield defeat, not to mention being able to leapfrog the Reds in the table, I am backing Tottenham to claim the win here at 12/5 with bet365 Sport.
Correct Score – So if Spurs are going to win the game, what score will it be? That makeshift Reds defence is going to be sorely tested here and as such, I think Spurs will grab a couple of goals. However, Liverpool will probably get one back. I was tempted by 2-0 to Spurs, but I think after the two goals against United Liverpool will get a consolation. Back the 2-1 win for Spurs at 11/1 with bet365.