Tottenham Hotspur vs Liverpool Preview: Spurs looking for long-awaited victory against the Reds at Wembley

Tottenham Hotspur welcome Liverpool to Wembley Stadium this Sunday looking for a first victory over the Reds since November 2012 with both teams requiring three points to prevent falling further behind the Premier League's leading pack.

Tottenham Hotspur vs Liverpool Preview: Spurs looking for long-awaited victory against the Reds at Wembley
(Picture: Getty Images - Clive Brunskill)

Tottenham Hotspur are looking for a first victory over Liverpool in five years when they host the Merseyside outfit at Wembley Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The Reds have enjoyed an impressive unbeaten stranglehold over this fixture stretching back to November 2012, winning six of the nine Premier League meetings since then.

Despite finishing behind Spurs in seven of the last eight seasons, Liverpool have enjoyed recent superiority in the head-to-head meetings.

Their excellent record against the Lilywhites peaked between December 2013 and August 2014 when they won 5-0, 4-0 and 3-0 in three successive games - two of those at White Hart Lane.

Since Jürgen Klopp's appointment at Anfield, the two teams have drawn three times with Liverpool winning both encounters on Merseyside last season - but whatever the outcome, all five clashes  have resulted in entertaining all-guns-blazing contests.

The same is expected this weekend, with both sides in need of a statement victory for different purposes. Spurs go into the weekend five points off Manchester City with Liverpool already trailing the leaders by nine points, their title hopes already in ruins.

Yet this encounter takes on a different context at Wembley, with it uncertain which team the change of venue particularly benefits. 

Liverpool have not won a competitive fixture under the stadium's famous arch since February 2012, losing all three of their previous competitive visits including the 2015 League Cup final under Klopp.

Yet Spurs' form at their temporary home this season is hardly imperious, drawing against Burnley and Swansea City after a defeat to Chelsea.

They only claimed their first home win last weekend against Bournemouth, a game in which they were fortunate that the Cherries wasted their chances.

But Pochettino's side will be desperate to prove they have adopted a steeliness for the big games - with Liverpool no better a side to show that against.

While the Reds were heavily beaten by this season's frontrunners City, albeit with 10 men, they were 10 games without defeat against the top six last season while Spurs lost four matches.

That saw them collect exactly half of the available points - 15 of 30 - against their close rivals, but their recent big-game performances suggest that they could improve upon that tally this term.

A credible performance even in defeat to Chelsea and excellent displays to beat Borussia Dortmund and draw away from home against Real Madrid in the Champions League suggest that Spurs can carry their form against the league's weaker teams into their crunch high-profile meetings.

Those games could carry on added importance this season in a season in which the title race promises to be as tight as ever, City seemingly providing the benchmark with seven wins from eight and 29 goals.

Yet Liverpool too have something to prove against Spurs, and can also hardly afford to fall further behind their rivals. Defeat would leave them seven points off Spurs and likely 12 behind City.

Having won just two of their last nine games in all competitions, one of those a 7-0 thrashing of Slovenian side NK Maribor in Europe in mid-week, doubts have risen over their prospects this season and their overall progression under Klopp.

With the title likely out of reach due to the superior strength of City, Manchester United and Spurs, their target is to consolidate last season's top-four finish and - as they've failed to do too many times in the Premier League era - simply try to build on their progress.

The Reds' inconsistent defence, which has conceded 12 goals in the league alone - double that of Spurs' goals against column - threatens to hinder their chances and their finishing has deserted them of late too.

Klopp will hope the demolition of Maribor on Tuesday night can help Liverpool's glittering front-line click into gear and find the kind of goalscoring form that can make them near impossible to defend against.

The tactical battle expected to ensue, between arguably the two best high-pressing teams in the top-flight, promises to make for an intriguing high-tempo encounter with it difficult to anticipate which team will thwart the other best.

With the clash also containing some of the league's most in-form players in the likes of Harry Kane, Mohamed Salah, Christian Eriksen and Philippe Coutinho, Sunday's game is seemingly unmissable.

 

Team news

Left-back Ben Davies, who has enjoyed an excellent campaign so far, is back from illness and should start while winger Georges-Kévin N'Koudou has overcome concussion and could make the 18-man match-day squad.

Despite playing the final 10 minutes in mid-week for his first appearance since January, Danny Rose is only fit enough to start on the bench.

Mousa Dembélé's absence could continue for Spurs. The Belgian midfielder overcame an ankle problem that kept him out for a month to travel to Madrid but complained of hip pain in training.

Elsewhere, Victor Wanyama is set to see a specialist for an update on his knee injury which has kept him out since defeat to Chelsea in August. That is likely see Harry Winks continue his stay in the middle.

Érik Lamela is closing in on a long-awaited first-team return for Spurs, having not featured since a League Cup fourth round defeat to Liverpool at Anfield in October 2016 after hip surgery.

Pochettino has suggested that, much like their mid-week draw in Madrid, the hosts could spring a tactical surprise after switching from a 3-4-2-1 to a 5-3-2 to pair Fernando Llorente and Kane up top.

Liverpool are without influential winger Sadio Mané - the highest league goalscorer for the club since his arrival last summer, with 16 goals - due to a hamstring injury sustained on international duty.

Midfielder Adam Lallana and right-back Nathaniel Clyne remain out with thigh and back injuries that have prevented them from making a single competitive appearance between them all season.

Having started against both United and Maribor, Trent Alexander-Arnold could make way for Joe Gomez at right-back as Klopp continues to rotate between the two youngsters.

In the other expected changes from the mid-week Champions League victory, Simon Mignolet will return in goal with skipper Jordan Henderson expected to replace James Milner in midfield.

With Liverpool setting up in their usual 4-3-3, the pace and width that Mohamed Salah can provide will prove key on the expansive Wembley surface - Mané having found joy breaking in behind Spurs' high defensive line in both league meetings last term.

 

Recent form (all competitions)

Tottenham Hotspur: WWWWD

Liverpool: WDDDW

Latest result

Real Madrid 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur (Varane o.g.)

NK Maribor 0-7 Liverpool (Firmino x2, Salah x2, Coutinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alexander-Arnold)

 

Match facts

Tottenham boss Pochettino is winless in five meetings with Klopp's Liverpool - drawing three and losing two - and has not beat them in seven meetings in total while in North London.

Since winning four games and drawing one between 2010 and 2012, Spurs have failed to win any of their last nine Premier League games against Liverpool (D3, L6).

Kane has yet to score in either of his two league home games against Liverpool, a run of 173 minutes. Only against Crystal Palace at home has he endured a longer barren run - three games (269 minutes).

Liverpool have only conceded once in their last four away games against Tottenham, scoring nine. They have won three of the last four trips to North London.

The Reds can win a Premier League game at their 53rd different ground if they beat Spurs at Wembley. They hold the current record with 52.

No fixture has seen more own goals than Tottenham vs Liverpool (nine) in the Premier League era.

There have been 140 goals scored in Premier League games between Spurs and Liverpool. Three goals would be enough to eclipse Everton-Manchester United and Chelsea-Spurs (both 142) as the highest-scoring match in the competition's history.

 

Referee

Andre Marriner is taking charge of this fixture for the first time in his officiating career.

The 46-year-old has overseen six Premier League games this season, including Tottenham's opening weekend win at Newcastle United in which the Magpies had a man sent off.

Part of the Select Group Referees, Marriner has been a top-flight regular since 2005 and was the man in the middle for the 2013 FA Cup final as well as the 2010 Championship play-off final, both games held at Wembley.