It feels like forever since we’ve played a game, doesn’t it? When you’re playing well they can’t come quickly enough, when you’ve just lost a match you really should have won the wait for the next one seems interminable. This particular gap has been made all the more painful by the fact that it seems as if our season is over; out of both cups and with no chance of winning the league, our only hope of some kind of ‘success’ this season is to finish in the top four. How tedious.
As boring as the ‘fight for fourth’ is, it’s vital for the club’s progression. If we get overhauled by Manchester United, having been in such a good position heading into the new year, what does that say about our squad and our mental fragility? What does it tell prospective players about whether or not they should head to Anfield in the summer? The notion that Jürgen Klopp has ‘been found out’ is a nonsensical one, yet this is where the manager needs to prove his worth. Spurs aren’t going to roll over, though, so what do you need to know before placing a bet?
It must be extremely frustrating for Jürgen Klopp to look at his fellow managers that are battling at the top of the table and realise that they have barely had to cope with any serious injury problems all season long. For the German things are nowhere near that simple and haven’t been ever since Danny Ings got an injury that ruled him out for the season. When you consider that we actually played out best football whilst we were coping with a pretty bad injury/absent player crisis it makes it all the more frustrating that we fell apart once most players were back.
The reason I mention all of that is that our injury problems don’t look like abating any time soon. The manager confirmed in his pre-match press conference that Adam Lallana has missed the last few days with a minor achilles injury and Dejan Lovren has also not trained this week. The problems at the back might be exacerbated by the fact that Ragnar Klavan has been out with a virus. He’s trained, but whether he starts or not depends on the managers thinking. Would he rather go with the Estonian, Lucas Leiva or even give young Joe Gomez a chance to impress?
A rumour did the rounds this week that Loris Karius would return to the starting XI for this game. Klopp wasn’t having any of it in front of the press, though, saying it was nothing more than a ‘rumour’. In my opinion he should definitely come in for Simon Mignolet. We know the Belgian isn’t good enough so now we need to use the remaining fourteen games to find out whether the German is or whether we need to buy another new ‘keeper in the summer. My team would be: Karius – Clyne – Matip – Gomez – Milner – Henderson – Wijnaldum – Can – Coutinho – Mané – Firmino.
I’m amazed that Manchester United didn’t think more long-term in the summer and go all out to appoint Mauricio Pochettino instead of José Mourinho. There’s no doubt that the Argentine has done an amazing job as Spurs, getting them playing consistently good football and tying all of his best players down to a long-term contract. Of those players he will have to cope without both Danny Rose and Jan Vertonghen at Anfield, with the former having injured his knee and the latter still getting over an ankle injury. Erik Lamela is also likely to miss the match as he’s suffering with a slight pain in his hip.
The good news for the Spurs manager is that Kieran Trippier has recovered from his ankle injury and should be available for selection. On top of that, none of his big guns are missing. I still believe that Harry Kane is not a good footballer, yet the England striker continues to bang them in and you can’t argue with his goal record. He’s somehow on fourteen already this campaign. Dele Alli could have been lining up in Red for this one if things had gone differently in the past, but instead he’ll start for Tottenham and is likely to cause our backline all sorts of problems. I’d be very surprised if we didn’t see the same side that beat Middlesbrough in their last outing.
Liverpool’s form is terrible. We have picked up a derisory three points from the last fifteen available to us in the league. Draws away to Sunderland, at Old Trafford and against Chelsea aren’t too bad in and of themselves, yet put alongside home defeats to Swansea at Anfield and Hull City at the KC and they don’t look very good at all. The manager has said he won’t accept a repeat of the loss to the Tigers. That’s fine, but we might be in a better situation right now had he said that after the first game against Plymouth. Or the first-leg against Southampton. Or the home defeat to Wolves. Or…
Chelsea have lost just three league games all season, with two of those coming against us and Arsenal in September. The other was to this Spurs side last month when they beat them 2-0 at White Hart Lane. Perhaps what’s even more impressive about Pochettino’s side is that they’ve actually only lost twice – it’s the eight draws that have been their downfall. If you’re hoping for a Liverpool win then there are two things you can cling on to: Firstly, those defeats have come away from home at other top six sides and Klopp is good at setting up his side to win the ‘mini league’ battles. Secondly, Spurs have won just once at Anfield since 1993 and we haven’t lost to them since 2012.
Football fans always dream that their side will respond to adversity with an emphatic win. That very rarely happens, however, and we’ve shown no signs of making it out of our slump recently. Here are my tips:
Few Goals Likely
In all competitions this season Tottenham Hotspur have conceded more than two goals on just one occasion – a 4-3 win over Wycombe Wanderers in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup. Sufficed to say, then, that their defence is rather stingy. Even without Jan Vertonghen they have proven to be a settled unit that doesn’t ask too much of Hugo Lloris in their goal. Yes this Liverpool team remains the highest scoring in the Premier League, level with Arsenal on 52, but the goals have dried up recently and we managed to find the back of the net a mere eight times in the nine games we played in the month of January.
You have to hope that Jürgen Klopp has used the last week to tighten things up at the back but I’m not convinced that we’re suddenly going to go from being leakier than the bucket Henry told Liza about to being tighter than a Yorkshireman on a night out. Hopefully, though, we’ll be able to limit any potential damage and therefore a Draw & Under 2.5 Goals @ 3/1 must be tempting. That said, Spurs drew 2-2 with Manchester City recently so you might lean more towards a Draw & Over 2.5 Goals, which is 10/1.
Pressing Each Other Into Submission
Liverpool and Spurs are now known as the pressing supremos of the Premier League, so it’s not overly difficult to envisage a game where the two sides’ pressing game cancels each other other out. If you want to be particularly inventive with your betting then you might want to have a look at Draw Half-Time, Draw Full-Time as it’s 9/2 Which looks quite long to me. If you’re feeling more optimistic than I am then Liverpool Half-Time, Liverpool Full-Time at 5/2 will tempt you. Pressing also involves harassing your opponent, so the fact that it’s 5/2 for their To Be A Penalty In The Match is interesting.
Liverpool To Come Out Fighting?
Despite the January slump these aren’t bad players and the manager is still one of the best in the world. He’s asked for a response from his side and it would be remiss of me not to look at some bets that take that into account. One of my favourite tips this term has been Liverpool To Win & Both Teams To Score, which is 7/2 for this game. If we do pick up all three points then someone is going to need to score a goal. The fact that Sadio Mané is 2/1 to Score Anytime means you’ve got a real chance to win.
I’m going to go for one negative option and one positive one for my chief tips this week. For that reason I’m going to be sticking a few quid on theDraw & Under 2.5 Goals, which is 3/1. I’m also going to suggest that we won’t keep a clean sheet but we could do enough going forward to take the three points, so Liverpool to Win & BTTS @ 7/2 is worth a punt. Let’s just not lose, hey Reds?