Liverpool take on Tottenham in Sunday’s late kick-off at Wembley. Buoyed by their dominant win in midweek, the Reds return to Premier League with a tricky away tie. Spurs sit at third in the league, four points ahead of Liverpool and haven’t lost since a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea in the second week of the season. However, the Wembley curse may continue to haunt them, as they have continuously struggled to close out games at their new home. A hard-earned 1-0 victory over Bournemouth last weekend will have gone some way to lifting the curse, but there are definitely still some weaknesses in the minds of the Tottenham players.
Liverpool Team News
Providing that everybody can stay fit, Liverpool have a core starting XI and they will want their best team on the pitch for such a big game. Fixture congestion, especially over the festive period, will begin to become an issue, as some players may struggle to play three games in eight days, consistently.
Although he didn’t have much to do, Simon Mignolet will have received a confidence boost after his clean sheet against Manchester United last weekend. As the ball spent so much time in the opposition’s half it would’ve been easy for him lose focus, but he made sure he was ready when called upon by Romelu Lukaku. Mignolet can expect to be busier on Sunday, with Tottenham’s strike force sure to create a lot more chances. Joe Gomez should start at right-back, like he has done so often the league this season and Alberto Moreno will mirror him on the opposite flank. In the middle, we can presume Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren will start side-by-side. However, Lovren might not have been at full fitness for the last few weeks and it remains to be seen whether or not he will need to be rested after a midweek game.
In the middle, despite getting his first Liverpool goal against Maribor on Tuesday, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will still probably not get a start. Instead, Georginio Wijnaldum and Emre Can will start again, with Jordan Henderson returning to captain the side after being rested for the European clash. James Milner put in a good shift in Slovenia, but looks as though he will just be used intermittently throughout the season, as Liverpool’s vice-captain.
The front three don’t really need to be introduced, but Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Philippe Coutinho should be full of confidence after their side scored seven in Slovenia. Before that game, they’d only scored two goals in the last three. It wasn’t the most difficult of oppositions, but the whole squad will be hoping it acts as a catalyst for future performances. Tottenham’s defence have conceded just five league goals this season, so a much sterner test is on the cards this weekend.
Predicted Lineup: Mignolet; Gomez, Lovren, Matip, Moreno; Henderson, Can, Wijnaldum; Coutinho, Firmino, Salah.
Tottenham Hotspur Team News
Danny Rose played his first competitive football since January, when he came on in the 80th minute against Real Madrid. With surprise package, Ben Davies a doubt for Sunday’s match, it could force Rose to start at left wingback. His return will allow Jan Vertonghen go back to his more familiar position in the centre of defence, having covered on the left in Spain. Spurs will likely come out in the 3-4-2-1 formation, with Davinson Sanchez and Toby Alderweireld the other men in the back three.
Eric Dier can join Harry Winks in a CDM position, as injuries meant that he was a makeshift centre-back against Real Madrid. This really goes to show how much balance will be returned to the team thanks to the recovery of Danny Rose.
The attacking trio are on a similar level to Liverpool’s, if not higher. Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Harry Kane are the full package, providing pace, skill and flair. However, they struggled their way to a 1-0 win over Bournemouth, proving that there is something not quite right about their performances at Wembley. This is a good opportunity for them though, to exploit Liverpool’s defence, the main weakness of their side. A confident victory in this game could perhaps end the Wembley curse, once and for all.
Predicted Lineup; Lloris, Vertonghen, Sanchez, Alderweireld; Rose, Winks, Dier, Aurier; Alli, Eriksen; Kane.
Although this looks to be a very tricky away tie, Totteham’s style of high press play should fall into Liverpool’s favour. In recent weeks they’ve struggled to score against team who sit back, so unless Spurs change their tactics, a win could be on the cards. The team’s confidence will be at an all-time high after their highest ever away European win. All this, along with match being at Wembley and I’d be confident of a 2-1 win for the boys in red.