Big Test For Liverpool In Potential Top-Four Clash
Tottenham will come into the game with a near full strength squad, only their captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris is still out with a hamstring injury. Michel Vorm will continue in goal in his place, meaning Tottenham’s outfield should remain unchanged since the start of the season.
Tottenham have grown into one of the toughest teams in the league to break down since the likes of Mauricio Pochettino, Toby Alderweireld and Victor Wanyama have arrived, coupled with the emergence of players such as Eric Dier, Dele Alli and of course Harry Kane; Spurs are no longer an “also-ran” team. They go into the game on the weekend on four points, but by their own standards that were set last season, they may well feel they should be on six, and will look to make amends against the Reds.
Liverpool will still be without Loris Karius, Joe Gomez, Sheyi Ojo, Mamadou Sakho and Lucas Leiva; however there are rumours of Sakho being offered around to other clubs, so injury may not be the reason for his absence, and Lucas returned to action for the u23’s the other day. Emre Can, Divock Origi and Philippe Coutinho are all in doubt for the game after minor ankle, cramp and hamstring concerns respectively.
Liverpool will likely make a few changes from the mid-week game against Burton Albion, with Jordan Henderson moving back to a holding-midfield role, as well as Georginio Wijnladum and Daniel Sturridge returning to the starting lineup. Liverpool will be looking to move on from the disappointment at Burnley, and use confidence gained from the Burton Albion game to secure a positive result at White Hart Lane.
Despite being the home team, and likely favourites, Tottenham will remain typically solid with their structure and avoid over committing or turning over possession cheaply. Their midfield more than makes up for their lack of technical prowess with substantial physicality and intelligent defensive minds. Having said that, Spurs will likely use their solid base to patiently hold onto possession until the likes of Chrsitian Eriksen or Alli are able to pick out Kane or Erik Lamela with a ball in behind. James Milner struggled with the pace of the Burnley attacks, so for this reason the key battle to watch for will be Lamela versus Milner.
Liverpool on the other hand will be looking to press and counter as usual. They may look to put a lot of pressure on the midfield duo, knowing that neither posses passing skills that would alleviate the possibility of turning the ball over. Sadio Mane will also look to have a similar impact against Spurs has he’s had against Arsenal and Burton Albion. Daniel Sturridge too will be keen to make a statement in his first start of the Premier League this season. But it will be in the midfield where this game is won and lost and for that reason I am pinpointing the key battle here as being Henderson and Wijnaldum versus Dier and Wanyama.
A very difficult game to call either way as both sides have their strenghts and weaknesses and neither have shown signs of spectacular form or consistency thus far. Having said that I believe this game will end in a 2-2 draw with goals from Sturridge and Mane. Liverpool’s potency in attack will shine through, but unfortunately I believe that Henderson and Wijnaldum will not be up for the challenge in the midfield battle. I can also see Milner struggling to contain Lamela if he is on his game. Here’s hoping for a pleasant surprise.
Cieren O’Dea for Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 23/08/2016.