Two teams at the heart of the battle for top-four places meet when Liverpool host Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield in the English Premier League on Sunday (11:30 ET).
Liverpool are third in the table, three points shy of Manchester United in second, level on points with Chelsea in fourth and two points clear of Tottenham in fifth. With Arsenal dropping away, it is those four teams who will compete for the three remaining top-four spots.
Liverpool and Spurs are two of the form teams in that race. Over the last 10 matches, they have respectively accumulated three and five more points than both Chelsea and Manchester United. And over the last six, no team has taken more points or scored more goals than Liverpool, who recorded a fifth win in six away at Huddersfield on Wednesday.
Jurgen Klopp’s side had fallen to a surprise defeat at Swansea in their previous league fixture, which was followed by a home defeat to West Bromwich Albion in the FA Cup, but they got back to winning ways with a comfortable 3-0 victory. First-half goals from Emre Can and Roberto Firmino and a second-half penalty from Mohamed Salah secured the triumph.
It was a strong reaction to the pair of disappointing results that had preceded it and one that again displayed the attacking potency at Liverpool’s disposal. It was the fifth time in their last eight matches that they had scored three or more goals, and the seventh time they had scored two or more. Even with Philippe Coutinho now departed, attack remains their strength.
The performance of Liverpool’s defensive unit has certainly improved as the season has gone on but it still remains a relative weak point. They have conceded seven more goals than any other side in the top five, but given that they’ve also scored eight more goals than any other team but runaway leaders Manchester City that can perhaps be considered a solid tradeoff.
The defence certainly isn’t the glaring weakness it appeared earlier in the season, when Liverpool conceded three times against Watford on the opening day, five times away to Manchester City and then four times away to Tottenham in a 4-1 defeat at Wembley all within the first couple of months of the campaign.
That was the only victory Tottenham managed against a fellow top-six side during the first half of the season, but they have already matched that tally just one game into the return tour following their impressive 2-0 win at home to Manchester United on Wednesday.
Christian Eriksen got Spurs off to the best possible start by giving them the lead within 11 seconds. United reacted well, but once that brief period of pressure had been weathered, Tottenham again took control. A Phil Jones own goal doubled their advantage and it could easily have become a rout had they been a bit more clinical during the second half.
It was a result that bunched up the top-four battle and represented the perfect start to a decisive run of matches for Spurs. Mauricio Pochettino admitted afterwards that he expects Liverpool to be very tough opponents, and things don’t get much easier thereafter. Next up is the North London derby at home to Arsenal and then the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie away to Juventus.
It is a sequence of fixtures that is likely to require a few rotations here and there, and Pochettino has seen his options bolstered by the arrival of Lucas Moura, the rapid Brazilian winger, who has joined from Paris Saint-Germain in a £25-million deal. While he lacks viable direct replacements for Eriksen – excellent against United – and Harry Kane, he is otherwise solidly covered.
Spurs finished last season very strongly, taking more points than any other team from the 1st February onwards, and a top-four finish is still very much in reach if they can produce a similarly impressive end to the current campaign.
Indeed, a victory for Tottenham on Sunday would see them leapfrog Liverpool into the top four. That will obviously be their aim, but a draw would be far from a bad result given the form Liverpool are in at the moment. Spurs held Liverpool at Anfield a couple of seasons ago and are capable of once again doing so on Sunday.
Our Preview’s Liverpool vs. Tottenham Hotspur Betting Pick & Prediction
The American sports betting companies have quite a few markets on this soccer matchup and our preview’s pick of the available options is:
- The Liverpool vs Spurs prediction is to back Tottenham Hotspur +0.5 on the spread @ betting odds of -120 with Bovada.