Tottenham and Liverpool face each other this Sunday in the Premier League’s biggest and most important fixture of the weekend. That usually suggests it will end up being a damp squib as both sides cautiously settle for a point but considering the emphasis Mauricio Pochettino and Jurgen Klopp both place on attacking football, we should see an energetic and expansive game on Wembley’s vast pitch. But what does history tell us, how will referee Andre Marriner influence the match and what injury issues do both managers face? Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Sunday’s 4pm kickoff…
History certainly isn’t on Tottenham’s side heading into this fixture. In fact, the Lilywhites are winless in their last nine Premier League outings against Sunday’s visitors, a run stretching back to 2012 when Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale grabbed all three points for Andre Villas-Boas. That’s played a significant, but not decisive, role in Liverpool taking the third-most points off Tottenham of any Premier League side over last 25 years. Accordingly, Liverpool fare considerably higher for wins and goals scored – but their win-rate on the road against the Lilywhites will give the hosts cause for optimism this weekend.
In contrast to recent history not being on their side, Andre Marriner’s more lenient style of refereeing should benefit Tottenham more this weekend. No referee to work in the Premier League this season has averaged less fouls per game and fouls per tackle, which should benefit the Lilywhites more than Liverpool because of their aggression and physicality off the ball – they currently rank sixth throughout the Premier League’s foul charts. The good news for the neutrals, though, is that Marriner will ensure a flowing game which, especially considering the attacking quality of both sides, should make for an open and entertaining encounter at Wembley.
Mauricio Pochettino has further improved his tactical variety this season, particularly in Europe where Tottenham have twice lined up with five at the back. But with Dele Alli available following his suspension against Real Madrid and Ben Davies expected to return from injury, its most likely Spurs will revert back to the 3-4-3 system that seems to get everybody into their most effective positions. Davinson Sanchez has made the back three frightfully solid, while Alli and Eriksen will want to get in close proximity with Harry Kane up front. The only real points of contention are left wing-back, where Danny Rose could feature instead of Davies, and in central midfield, where Pochettino may opt for the dynamism of Moussa Sissoko over Eric Dier’s sturdiness and Harry Winks’ composure in possession.
The players available to Jurgen Klopp remain unchanged from the scoreless draw with Manchester United last time out in the Premier League, alongside the same absences. The big one is, of course, Sadio Mane whose injury appears to have once again lead to a downturn in domestic results for the Reds. But Klopp will feel relatively content with the players currently at his disposal, considering the quality Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah offer him in the final third. We’re predicting an unchanged XI from the side used at Anfield last Saturday, but Trent Alexander-Arnold and James Milner could come in after starring in Liverpool’s 7-0 win over Maribor on Tuesday – a record away victory in Europe for the Merseysiders.