A week ago, Tottenham’s prospects for this Sunday’s trip to Anfield looked thoroughly grim, given their own growing crisis and Liverpool’s 100% record in the Premier League.
Since then, Manchester United managed to end that flawless record for Jurgen Klopp’s side, and Tottenham themselves gained a heartening 5-0 victory in the Champions League over Red Star Belgrade.
So does this mean that Tottenham have a great chance of beating the league leaders? Well, probably not. But it does make things a bit more interesting.
On the Totally Football Show this Thursday, our panel looked ahead to the weekend’s big game, and whether the events of the last few days could signal a turning point in the seasons of both clubs.
“Obviously Red Star are not great shakes away from home,” said Tom Williams, “and it always helps when the opposition kindly give you the ball inside your own half, but Spurs needed that: the ridiculous 2-7 loss to Bayern, the defeat at Brighton, scraping the draw at home to Watford, it felt they were lurching into crisis.
“Maybe they still are, but it was nice to have a breezy evening in the Champions League and score a few goals. To play that well against Red Star and score that many goals is a sign that all is perhaps not lost yet.”
One point of discussion was whether Spurs could pull the same tactical trick as Manchester United, which Sheffield United also managed earlier in the season.
“The key was that the full-backs weren’t able to get the crosses in,” said Frida Fagerlund, “so maybe Pochettino has spotted that too.”
Tom Williams picked up the theme: “The way United managed to do that, does at least provide a blueprint of sorts. Spurs often play with three at the back so it’s a system they know well.”
But do Spurs have the personnel? “On the right they have Serge Aurier or Juan Foyth, neither of whom are particularly comfortable in a defensive sense, particularly if they’re being run at. Against Manchester City last season, Raheem Sterling ran at Foyth repeatedly and gave him a hard time. Sadio Mane might look to repeat that.”
One weapon that Spurs do have is Harry Kane, who scored twice against Red Star but more than that put in a sensational all-round performance.
“The quality of his passing is absolutely sensational,” said Tom. “I think Spurs have got a similar problem to England with Kane, in that not only is he their best goalscorer, he’s also their best chance creator. He was involved in seemingly every goal they scored.”
They might need Kane’s creative talents, given that Christian Eriksen is very much out of favour after expressing his desire to leave Tottenham in the summer.
“I do think so,” said Frida, in response to a listener question on whether Mauricio Pochettino has sidelined Eriksen in order to make a hardline point to the rest of his squad.
“It seems to have been very damaging and Poch has been very annoyed about it, and he hasn’t really pretended like he’s not annoyed. Eriksen is probably going to leave in January – it makes sense if they’re going to get any money for him.”
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