Tottenham hold Liverpool’s destiny in their own hands

Every single fan in Liverpool should want Tottenham Hotspur to pick up two victories this week.

Spurs face Manchester City in two successive games, in two different competitions. First, Spurs travel to the Etihad Stadium for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final – the first leg, of course, ended 1-0 with Son Heung-Min’s goal proving decisive. Then, this weekend, Spurs face City in the Premier League, again at the Etihad.

The harsh reality for Spurs fans here, then, is that they could well hand two titles to the Reds this week.

If Spurs beat City in the Champions League, the favourites are surely out. Barcelona showed in their first leg beating of Manchester United that their powers, even with Lionel Messi in their ranks, are on the wane. Liverpool’s electric front three of Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane would fancy their chances against Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet both at Anfield and the Camp Nou.

Spurs, too, would be out for revenge against Juventus if they beat Ajax to progress after being knocked out by the Italian champions last season, while the Dutch side are the young upstarts in the competition, an aesthetically-pleasing unit who have yet to be truly tested when behind.

The signs, then, could well point towards a final between Spurs and Liverpool. That is only good news for one side; Mauricio Pochettino has beaten Jurgen Klopp once in nine meetings, drawing four and losing four. A coronation could await for the German if they meet at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in June.

As for the Premier League, the race is as tight as it has ever been.

City are second, currently, two points behind the Reds but they have a game in hand. Each side have won their last five outings. A win for Spurs this weekend, as Liverpool face Cardiff City on Sunday, would surely see the Reds pull five points clear.

The Reds then face Huddersfield Town – already relegated, and on track to be one of the worst Premier League teams of all time – Newcastle United and Wolves, two teams who could well be on the beach mentally by the time the Reds visit.

City, by comparison, face bitter rivals Manchester United, Burnley, Leicester City and Brighton & Hove Albion. The Tottenham game is key.

Pochettino has a markedly better record against Guardiola than against Klopp – he has won three and drawn four of the 15 meetings between them – and he could make that five this week.

Indeed, he took Espanyol to the Camp Nou in 2009 and recorded his first ever victory as a manager, winning 2-1. It is all the more remarkable when one considers that Espanyol were bottom of the league at the time and Barcelona were 10 clear at the top. It was Espanyol’s first victory at the stadium in 27 years.

Of course, Spurs are without Harry Kane and Harry Winks, while there remain doubts over Dele Alli, who may have broken his hand in the first leg.

Son and Lucas Moura are in electric form, however, and could be more suited to a counter-attacking gameplan against a City side that are sure to dominate possession.

Pochettino knows how to beat City. He has seen his side thump them 4-1 at White Hart Lane and took them to victory at the Etihad in 2016. Last week’s win was similar; Spurs executed their gameplan perfectly and now have a lead to protect.

Of course, they need to qualify for the Champions League too via a league finish – top four is a must, regardless of whether or not they lift the famous jug-eared trophy – and will not be thinking about the title race this weekend. They will instead be focused on their own ambitions, as Pochettino tries to pull his side clear of the chasing pack of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United.

Liverpool will have a keen eye on both games, however. Indeed, Tottenham could hold the keys to their destiny both at home and in Europe.