Four key battles that will decide Tottenham vs Liverpool

We’ve already witnessed some absolute classics in the Premier League this season and the coming weekend has thrown up another round of incredibly enticing fixtures.

Indeed, an out-of-form Chelsea will play host to relegation strugglers Aston Villa, whilst Manchester United make the ever-difficult trip to Everton.

But the stand-out game is undoubtedly the weekend’s first – Tottenham Hotspur welcoming to Liverpool White Hart Lane in Saturday’s 12.45pm kick-off.

Spurs and the Reds always put on a good show, with a whopping 25 goals in their last six Premier League encounters, and knowing that claiming three points against divisional rivals could well be the difference between finishing 4th, 5th or 6th come the end of May makes this one even more enticing.

But Saturday’s match holds extra significance as it’s Jurgen Klopp’s first in charge of the Merseyside outfit, with much expected of the towering German after replacing Brendan Rodgers.

When fixtures involve two sides of such similar quality, who dominates the individual battles often decides the outcome. With that in mind, here’s FIVE that could determine the result on Saturday.

HARRY KANE VS MAMADOU SAKHO

Kane
Mamadou Sakho has performed well since stepping in for Dejan Lovren but he’s still one of the weaker links in the Liverpool starting Xi that Spurs will look to continuously exploit – especially when in possession.

Indeed, the France international boasts a pass completion rate of 93% this season but he often struggles to distribute effectively when under pressure, something which Spurs front-man Harry Kane is more than capable of exploiting through his physicality, aggression and industriousness.

The 22 year-old has found just the one goal in the Premier League this season and didn’t enjoy the best of luck during the recent international break with England. But he’s still a focal point of Spurs’ attack and their most dependable outlet when lumping the ball forward.

He netted past the Reds in the reverse fixture last season, a 3-2 affair at Anfield, so Liverpool’s defenders will be more than aware of Kane’s capabilities.

CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN VS LUCAS LEIVA

Swansea City v Tottenham Hotspur - Barclays Premier League
Essentially a reverse of the Coutinho vs. the Spurs DMs battle in no small part due to the fact both Spurs and Liverpool like to move the ball through the middle of the park. 30% of both clubs’ attacking play has been central this season, ranking them joint fourth throughout the Premier League.

It remains to be seen just how long Lucas Leiva will last at Anfield following Jurgen Klopp’s appointment but lacking any clear viable alternative in the Liverpool squad – perhaps with the exception of Emre Can – his status as the Reds’ play-breaker seems fairly safe for now.

And the Brazilian’s primary task on Saturday will be to nullify the creative threat of Christian Eriksen as much as possible – the Danish wizzkid at the heart of the Lilywhites’ starting XI.

He’s claimed the joint-most assists, two, and averaged the second-most created chances per match, 2.4, of any Spurs player this season.

But equally formidable as his creativity is the 23 year-old’s potency from dead ball situations, so Leiva’s average of 2.5 fouls per match, a squad highest, but be brought down somewhat or Eriksen could really punish the Reds.

ERIK LAMELA VS ALBERTO MORENO

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An interesting battle of two prodigious talents beginning to come good on their heralded potential.

Erik Lamela’s finally started to resemble a £30million player in recent weeks, bagging three goals and two assists in his last six appearances for the Lilywhites – including a strike and a set-up in a Man of the Match display against Manchester City.

With Heung Son Min absent through injury, the Argentina international is likely to start on the right-hand side, putting him up against Liverpool’s Alberto Moreno.

Like Lamela, Moreno is really beginning to come into his own after a turbulent debut campaign at Anfield, and was particularly impressive against Norwich City and Everton.

Furthermore, Joe Gomez has been ruled out for the rest of the season and Jurgen Klopp always preferred progressive full-backs at Borussia Dortmund, so this certainly the 23 year-old’s chance to impress his new manager.

DANIEL STURRIDGE VS TOBY ALDERWEIRELD AND JAN VERTONGHEN

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With Christian Benteke set for at least another week on the sidelines and Danny Ings now ruled out of the rest of the season, Daniel Sturridge will be leading Liverpool’s attack on Saturday.

The England striker is still some way off his best after a length injury absence of his own, but he reminded everybody of his quality before the international break with a match-winning brace against Aston Villa.

On Saturday, however, he’ll be up against Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen – one of the most solid centre-back partnerships in the Premier League right now and one the leading contributors to Spurs’ aforementioned formidable defensive record.

The Belgium duo, who previously plied their trade together at Ajax,  were reunited during the summer and already have a strong understanding of each other’s game. Neither are particularly slow off the mark so it can’t simply be a case of Sturridge looking to exploit the space behind them.