Liverpool vs Tottenham Hotspur Preview: Reds looking to reignite dwindling top-four hopes

Liverpool vs Tottenham Hotspur Preview: Reds looking to reignite dwindling top-four hopes

Liverpool face Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday evening in a massive Premier League clash with the Reds looking for a first win of 2017 to inject fresh momentum into their hopes of finishing in the top-four against an in-form Spurs who haven't lost in the league for two months.

charlie-malam
Charlie Malam

Liverpool host second-placed Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on Saturday evening still looking for their first Premier League victory of 2017 as they hope to avoid losing further ground in the top-four race.

The Reds have endured a dismal start to the calendar year, seeing their hopes of silverware in three competitions all extinguished within just a matter of weeks.

Knocked out of the EFL Cup and FA Cup within four days, they have won only one of 10 games in all competitions since the turn of the year in their worst start to a calendar year since 1993.

Having only had title aspirations as early as New Year's Day following a huge 1-0 win at home to rivals Manchester City, Liverpool's chances of ending a 27-year wait for the title have collapsed now they sit 13 points away from first with 14 games.

Last weekend's defeat away at Hull City even leaves their prospects of finishing in the top-four and qualifying for next season's Champions League under serious threat, with bitter rivals Manchester United now only a point behind in sixth.

By contrast, Spurs come into this team as one of the most in-form teams in the league, winning seven of their last nine and remaining unbeaten since December 11. 

They ended league leaders Chelsea's 13-game winning streak at White Hart Lane in January and are only nine points off of their London rivals having emerged as their closest challengers going into the run-in.

Boasting the best defence in the English top-flight, and one bettered by few teams across Europe, and with Harry Kane maintaining his prolific goalscoring rate - Spurs look likely to challenge until the campaign's latter stages, as they did last in 2015-16.

They can leave a severe dent in Liverpool's hopes of a top-four finish in the process this weekend, although they will be wary that Jürgen Klopp's team are unbeaten against anyone in the current top-half of the Premier League table.

Some of their best performances this season have come against their direct rivals for the top-four, having turned out a much-improved display in a 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Anfield on January 31.

That appeared to be a turning point after such a poor start to 2017, before the Hull defeat rendered it only a false dawn, but Liverpool will hope they can produce a similar level of performance here.

Yet Spurs, with their defensive strength, are also fully capable of extending the Merseyside outfit's miserable run. Liverpool have come unstuck against deep-defending counter-attacking teams and Mauricio Pochettino's men are equipped to adopt a similar style.

With Chelsea and United having done so at Anfield, as well as Southampton, Swansea City and even Wolverhampton Wanderers last month alone, Spurs might be wise to do so as opposed to taking their opponents on head-to-head.

Liverpool meanwhile will hope that they can show they can break down an organised defence, with Spurs' back-line as well drilled as they come.

Team news

Liverpool are uncertain as to whether Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana will feature after the pair were both absent from training on Thursday.

Lovren missed out on last weekend's clash with Hull with a swollen knee, while midfielder Lallana was absent at Melwood for two days with an Achilles issue.

Ragnar Klavan will return to the team from an illness that kept him out of the defeat on Humberside, while Lucas Leiva is another potential option to fill in for Lucas at centre-back.

Klopp has few other injury issues to contend with but Academy midfielder Ovie Ejaria (ankle), Marko Grujic (hamstring) and long-term absentee Danny Ings (ACL) are all out.

Tottenham Hotspur will be without defensive duo Jan Vertonghen and Danny Rose, who are still sidelined with knee and ankle injuries respectively.

Spurs boss Pochettino issued a positive update on left-back Rose earlier this week, describing his injury as a "minor" issue, while Vertonghen is in line to return to training next week. Ben Davies could deputise for Rose.

Kieran Trippier is back in the squad after returning from the hip injury he suffered last month in an FA Cup fourth-round win over Wycombe Wanderers but winger Erik Lamela has not featured since last October and remains unavailable with a hip problem.

Fellow forward Georges-Kevin N'Koudou is also out with a knee injury.

Head-to-head

At Anfield: Liverpool - 44 wins, Draws - 23, Tottenham Hotspur - 8 wins.

At White Hart Lane: Tottenham Hotspur - 36 wins, Draws - 19, Liverpool - 21 wins.

Overall: Liverpool - 78 wins, Draws - 42, Tottenham Hotspur - 47 wins. 

Last meeting: Liverpool 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur, EFL Cup Round of 16, 25th October 2016.

Recent form

Liverpool

Last five in the Premier League: DDLDL
Last five in all competitions: LLLDL

Tottenham Hotspur

Last five in the Premier League: WWDDW
Last five in all competitions: WDWDW

Match facts

Liverpool are unbeaten in their last nine league and cup matches against Tottenham, winning six of them.

However, all three of the last Premier League meetings between these two teams have ended in draws - with just four goals scored in total.

The Reds have lost just one (2-0 in May 2011) of their last 22 Premier League home games against Spurs - winning 14 and drawing seven of the other games. 

The last time Liverpool failed to win any of their opening six top-flight matches in a calendar year was 1954, a year in which they went on to be relegated. 

The Reds have dropped 12 points in their last five Premier League games (D3, L2) - having missed out on just nine points in their previous 16 top-flight matches before that.

Liverpool have scored more Premier League penalties than any other team this season, with all six converted by James Milner - including one against Spurs in August.

After his first 54 league games as Liverpool boss, Jürgen Klopp has the same record as his predecessor Brendan Rodgers: 26 wins, 16 draws and 12 defeats.

The Reds have yet to lose a league game this season against a side currently in the top-half of the table, winning six and drawing five of 11 games.

Spurs' total of 50 points from 24 games equals their highest at this stage of a Premier League season, matching their tally in 2011-12.

The only top-flight season in which they had a better record was the title-winning campaign of 1960-61.

Spurs are unbeaten in their last 11 league and cup games, winning nine of those matches.

They have conceded just seven Premier League goals from open play this season, the lowest total in the division.

Harry Kane has been involved in all three of Spurs' goals in their last two Premier League games at Anfield, scoring twice and assisting the other.

Kane is the only player to score at least 20 Premier League goals in each of the last two calendar years. He has six so far in 2017 - a joint-high alongside Everton's Romelu Lukaku.

The man in the middle

Anthony Taylor, a member of the Select Group of referees, is the selected official for Saturday's clash on L4.

The 38-year-old Manchester-born referee has officiated 181 Premier League games, handing out 33 red cards and 611 yellows, since first appointment on February 2010.

Taylor has overseen three Liverpool games - a win and a draw with Sunderland and an Anfield stalemate with Manchester United - and two Spurs games this term, both 4-0 wins over Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion.

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