In traveling to Anfield on Saturday, Tottenham faces the toughest test English football has to offer at present. Undoubtedly, both sides have a lot riding on this one, with it looking like a case of all or nothing for Klopp and Conte.
As the race for the top four draws to an end, we are no closer to finding out which North London side will represent England in next season’s Champions League. Both Spurs and Arsenal have looked in control at various times over recent months, however, with just four games to go, it’s still anyone’s guess.
Spurs will be aware that if they lose and Arsenal win, the gap extends to five points ahead of next Thursday’s North London derby, so will be eager not to leave Liverpool empty-handed. However, this is easier said than done as Jurgen Klopp has turned Anfield into a fortress this season, with the Reds remaining as the league’s only side still unbeaten at home, boasting a record of 14 wins and three draws.
When these two met earlier in the season, fans were treated to a spectacular 2-2 draw which ultimately, Conte may feel aggrieved not to have won. Spurs regularly carved Liverpool open, owed largely to the Red’s unrivaled high line, however, Harry Kane, Heung-min Son, and co uncharacteristically squandered several big chances to put the game to bed.
Given the recent form of Kane, Son, and Dejan Kulusevski, Liverpool’s dominance could be a weapon for their own destruction, as the Englishman’s quarter-backesc defense-splitting passes could be the key to unlocking this steadfast Reds defense which leaves a lot of space in-behind.
If we’re counting, another point to Spurs on the metaphorical pre-match scoreboard comes in the form of rest, as after a comfortable 3-1 win over Leicester City last weekend, Spurs should come into this one well-conditioned compared to Liverpool, who had a fierce battle with Villareal midweek to secure a Champions League final spot in a game which saw all their big hitter’s feature.
A must-win match for Tottenham and Liverpool
Having said all this, the one factor that may just decide this game is desperation. Being neck and neck in the title race Man City, this is the definition of a must-win for Klopp’s side, as dropping any points now would surely hand the Sky Blues the title.
Unfortunately, Spurs are in a similar situation, as failure to win at Anfield puts Arsenal in the driving seat to finish fourth, with a Champions League finish would no longer being in Spurs’ hands. Anything less than three points would leave the Spurs faithful needing a NLD derby victory, and for Arsenal to drop points against Newcastle and Everton, which in all fairness is still within the realms of possibility, however, is something to be avoided.
Ultimately, this might just come down to a simple case of who wants it more, which could end up suiting Spurs.
While I’m not suggesting a return to the anti-football seen under Mourinho and Nuno at times, for Spurs, the longer the game remains a draw, the better. With home advantage, Liverpool will be ushered forward by the crowd at every opportunity, and if Spurs can sustain pressure and frustrate their opponents utilising the dark arts of the game, they could cause an upset.
Albeit a fairly unlike scenario, if the game is level late on, Klopp will need to throw the kitchen sink at Spurs, and any potential for late openness in the game might suit Kane and Son as Liverpool become desperate and commit more and more men forward.
Now really this is all just food for thought, as with no crystal ball at my disposal, it’s anyone’s guess how Saturday night unfolds and while a Spurs win is unlikely, stranger things have happened, and Conte has shown he can mix with the big boys this season by winning away at City.
This one could be set up to be a classic, and for us Spurs fans, we can await with a tinge of hope that come late Saturday night, the title looks destined for a return to Manchester.