Let’s start with a rather incredible statistic. From 74 visits to Anfield, where they will face Liverpool in a 5.30pm kickoff this Saturday, Tottenham Hotspur have won just eight times and lost an outrageous 46.
But amid a Premier League campaign not quite like any other, which has seen Spurs emerge as the only genuine competition to Leicester City in the title race, something tells me this weekend’s installment of the historic fixture will be a lot closer than usual.
Indeed, the second-place Lilywhites are flying high, boasting the strongest goals conceded record in the Premier League, whilst Liverpool find themselves amid a period of reinvention under relatively fresh managerial appointment Jurgen Klopp.
With both sides employing industrious, energetic and technical styles of football, they may end up cancelling each other out on Saturday – so the result could well be decided by which side dominates the key individual battles. With that in mind, here are FIVE Football Fancast view as the most important.
With Christian Benteke, Roberto Firmino and Divock Origi all deemed injury doubts for Saturday’s game, Daniel Sturridge looks set to lead the Liverpool frontline almost by default – although most would select him over the aforementioned trio anyway.
The England international isn’t quite back to his best since returning from injury, scoring three times in eight appearances across all competitions, but remains one of the Premier League’s most potent goalscorers when at full fitness and should feel a little sharper after playing 70 minutes against Southampton before the international break.
That being said, Tottenham boast the strongest goals conceded record in the Premier League this season and much of that is due to the formidable performances of Toby Alderweireld at the heart of defence.
Rugged, tactically astute and technically masterful, the Belgium international has emerged as the complete centre-back package this season – but Sturridge’s notorious pace could cause him trouble on the counter-attack.
Danny Rose’s marauding runs from left-back have become a defining feature of Tottenham’s attacking play this season and even had a noteworthy impact as England came back against Germany in a 3-2 win last weekend.
Indeed, the 25-year-old offers intrinsic width so Spurs’ attacking midfielders can move inside, a ploy that has seen him bag one goal and two assists in 18 Premier League outings so far this season.
But Jurgen Klopp likes his full-backs to push up as well and Nathaniel Clyne has always been a particularly forward-thinking No.2, even if he hasn’t demonstrated it to the same extent since swapping Southampton for Liverpool last summer.
So with both England internationals set to oppose each other on the same flank this Saturday and both determined to force a place in Roy Hodgson’s Euro squad, this battle could well depend on who balances their offensive and defensive duties best.
Harry Kane’s confidence probably couldn’t be higher at the minute. Not only is the Tottenham frontman top of the Premier League’s scoring charts with 21 goals in 31 appearances, but he also netted the strike, following a cheeky Cruyff turn, that inspired England’s comeback against Germany last Saturday.
Indeed, there seems to be no stopping the 22-year-old at the moment amid a run of six goals in his last six outings across all competitions – including back-to-back braces against Aston Villa and Bournemouth – so Liverpool centre-half Mamadou Sakho looks set for an incredibly tough afternoon upon facing him this Saturday.
The France international has never been the most convincing of centre-halves and Liverpool’s backline is notoriously porous, conceding the second-most goals of any side in the Premier League’s top half this season. But if Sakho has one saving grace, it’s his ability to dominate Kane physically through great power and aerial ability.
Having played the full ninety minutes against the Netherlands on Tuesday night, I have an inkling Mauricio Pochettino will rest rest Kyle Walker against Liverpool, with understudy Kieran Trippier taking his place in the Spurs starting Xi.
Despite playing second fiddle to the England international this season, the former Burnley star is a very talented full-back, especially in the art of providing consistent deliveries from out wide – averaging 1.2 crosses per match this season.
But upon facing Philippe Coutinho, it’s the 25-year-old’s defensive qualities that will be tested most. The Brazilian has proved formidable in the left midfield role over the last month or so, scoring a stellar solo effort against Manchester United and also finding the net during the 3-2 defeat to Southampton.
With Roberto Firmino potentially sidelined, Coutinho will be under more pressure than usual to make something happen in the final third. He’s certainly capable of doing so, boasting 19 goals in 101 Premier League appearances throughout his Anfield career.
Tottenham and Liverpool are both famed for their energetic style of play and much of that stems from the industriousness of their engine rooms, particularly through players like Dele Alli, Eric Dier, Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Adam Lallana.
And with all five scrapping for a place in England’s starting Xi ahead of Euro 2016, they’ll all be desperate to outshine their counterparts on Saturday amid ever-reducing chances to impress Roy Hodgson.
In terms of form this season, Alli and Dier remain ahead of the Liverpool trio. Dier is one of the few genuine holding midfielders in Three Lions contention at the moment, whilst Alli has exploded onto the scene with seven goals and nine assists since making the step up from League One last summer.
But Lallana, Henderson and Milner are all talented, experienced and hardworking midfielders who won’t wilt under the challenge for places in Hodgson’s plans. Logic suggests their experience should trump the Spurs duo’s energy, but few midfields have got the better of Tottenham’s this season.