The 2017-18 Tottenham Hotspur season in is full swing and already historic results are piling in. Spurs 1-1 draw at the Bernabéu was gritty, deserved, and proof that this team can play with any club in the world. Between the Dortmund win and Madrid draw, its been an perfect first half to the Champions League group stages. Last Saturday wasn’t too bad either. Spurs 1-0 defeat of Bournemouth was a win at Wembley, but also a matchweek where four of our five top four rivals dropped points. Liverpool and United drew, while Arsenal and Chelsea lost to Watford and Crystal Palace respectively.
Spurs are the sole owners of third place in the Premier League having won seventeen points on the year. They are three back of United in second place and five back of league leaders Manchester City. Its the first time in a long time that the Manchester sides haven’t shared top billing. The win also separates Tottenham from the a cluster at thirteen points that include Chelsea, Liverpool, and Arsenal. Its nice to be four points clear of that lot early in the campaign.
Since Gareth Bale’s departure no team has owned Tottenham Hotspur F.C. like Liverpool. Chelsea may have brought us more pain and eyre over the past few years and the hate for Arsenal is a raging river, but Liverpool has been a fixture that twice a term has brought disappointing results. Over the last ten encounters, Spurs have lost seven and drew three against Liverpool and many of those matches were manhandlings where the lilywhites weren’t given a sniff.
The profile of Liverpool though, since their own megastar’s departure, has been one of talent and inconsistency. Jurgen Klopp has been at the club two years now and in one sense they remain a scary, dangerous, and mesmerizing side when they click, yet also a flawed team who bleeds goals, is poor off set pieces, and unpredictable in their week to week performances. For example, they dominated Arsenal in a 4-0 drubbing, only to have Sadio Mane sent off in their 5-0 defeat to Manchester City the next week. They also fought to a fine result last weekend to Manchester United — a 0-0 draw — but also drew Newcastle and Burnley within the last month as well. At the end of the day, who really knows what Liverpool team will show up on Sunday.
As stated above, their attack is intimidating. Even without Sadio Mane and Adam Lallana lost to injury, their front three consists of Phillipe Coutinho, Roberto Firminho, and Mohamaed Salah. Those three are a handful, so much so that it forces a healthy Daniel Sturridge to start on the bench behind these guys. Throw in Emre Can and Jordan Henderson into their midfield and the side can possess, create, and counter with the best clubs in Europe. Its their defense that is weaker, though maybe not wholly from personnel. The press and positioning that their team tactically takes leads to counterattacks and holes in defense. They are also comically poor in defending set pieces too. All of this has led them to bleed goals, twelve already this term, that puts them in twelfth place overall in the Premier League surrounded by the likes of lesser sides such as Bournemouth, Brighton, and Arsenal F.C.
The statistics don’t lie, this has been a tough fixture for Tottenham Hotspur for a number of years now. Both teams played on Tuesday and should have ample rest. Spurs have a midweek league cup match against West Ham, but expect Pochettino to prioritize Sunday’s match above all else. If Spurs can walk away with three points, it’d cap another incredibly impressive week for the club in this young season.
How to Watch
Date/time: Sunday, 4:00 p.m. (UK), 11:00 a.m. ET (USA)
Venue: Wembley Stadium, London, UK
Official: Andre Marriner
TV: NBCSN (NBC Sports Live Extra), BBC Radio, Sky Go UK, Sky Sports Main Event (UK), Sportsnet World Now, Sportsnet East, Sportsnert Ontario, Sportsnet Pacific, Sportsnet West (Canada), Optus Sport (Australia), other listings at livesoccertv.comStreaming: NBC Sports Live Extra (USA)
On the injury front, both Ben Davies and Georges-Kevin Nkoudou will be available for selection on Sunday after recovering from their illness and concussion respectively. Erik Lamela is back in training, and could even see the bench, but I wouldn't count on it. Victor Wanyama’s progress on his recovery from a knee injury is being assessed this week. Mousa Dembélé is out too after hurting his hip at training in Madrid.
Son barely saw the pitch in Spain, while Dele Alli served the last of his three game Champions League suspension on Tuesday. For this reason, I think both of these guys will start. Considering that I just don’t think Christian Eriksen will ever be rotated for a big match, then my guess is that we revert back to a 4-2–3-1. That said, Poch can go a million different directions, so I am supremely unconfident in what I’m about to say.
Hugo will start in net with Toby and Jan in the center-back spots and Danny Rose and Kieran Trippier in the outside back spots. Sanchez to the bench is controversial and so is Rose starting, yet Davies didn’t train much this week. I think no matter what lineup we put out, Trippier will rotate with Aurier. That puts Dier and Harry Winks in the double pivot, with Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, and Son Heung-Min in the attacking band and Harry Kane as the lone forward up top. Could Dele or Eriksen play in the attacking half of the double pivot, which would allow Davinson Sanchez to start in a back three? Maybe? I think I just feel bad for Sonny and want him to play. In fact, this lineup is wholly devoted to that and to him.
Everybody picked Spurs to beat Bournemouth, Pardeep and Alex picked particularly well predicting a 1-0 scoreline. Pardeep jumps several spots into a tie at the top of the table with incumbent Earl of Shoop. Oh to the see drama unfold.
Cartilage Free Captain Prediction League Standings 2017-18
|Earl of Shoop
Dustin Menno: Liverpool’s defense is still hilarious and they’re without Mane and Lallana for this match, which means Ben Davies can play again. 2-1 Spurs.
Matthew Pachniuk: Hate this fixture. Its the one team that this club has struggled with year and year out. I'd love to say that we will break it, but feel instead we'll probably be happy with a draw. 1-1.
GN Punk: I have no idea why but when the email came in for our predictions, I pictured the scene in Three Amigos where Dusty Bottoms kills the Invisible Swordsman like he's supposed to lead us to the promised land and we just can't accept that help. 2-2 Draw.
Jake Meador: Poche has never beaten Klopp in the league--or maybe ever? I can't recall us beating them in a domestic cup since he arrived... That said, they have Salah, who is basically Diet Mane, on the wing instead of Real Mane and their midfield is a bit handicapped without Lallana plus their defense is still LOL. I also think Harry Winks's passing can probably spring some counters for us. So this doesn't scare me as much as that Anfield trip last year did. But Klopperpool still has a record for being kryptonite to Poche Spurs. So I'm expecting an extremely dumb and derpy 2-2 draw.
Ed F: Liverpool’s defence still doesn’t work. 3-2 Spurs.
Earl of Shoop: Did you know that the term "scouse" originally refers to a type of stew sailors ate? I've never had it but if I had to guess I'd say it probably has some really good individual ingredients but a pretty mediocre base that prevents the whole thing from really coming together and being good. Liverpool's defense are bad broth, is what I'm saying. Anyway this match is nervier than you'd like, but our boys send this sad dish of scouse back to the kitchen uneaten. Spurs 3-2
Pardeep Cattry: Spurs will be on a high after Tuesday at the Bernabeu, only to come back down to earth and do a normal Spurs thing. 1-1 draw.
Joe Patrick: This match screams "let down game" but I'll be optimistic here and go for a 0-0 boring af draw.
Bryan A: A draw away to Madrid means a loss at home to Liverpool. That's how the world works, folks. 3-1 Liverpool.
Skipjack: Tottenham's secret potential was shown to everyone at the Benabeu now its just a matter if they can match up to the traditional currency of Liverpool. I'll say 2-1 Liverpool because new money never wins out.
Salmon Chase: A draw away to Real Madrid means North Korean ICBMs will be raining down on the east coast this weekend, that's just the way the world works. 1-1 draw.
Alex Greenberg: We haven't beaten Liverpool in forever. Their defense is horrible, especially at set pieces. Hit them with The Llorente! 3-1 Spurs.
Nathan Giannini: This is normally a match I would be extremely wary of, but I am SO FREAKING HYPED after Tuesday that I'm gonna be irresponsibly optimistic and go 2-0 Spurs.
Joel Wertheimer: Spurs have learned to play off the ball this year and not press against pressing teams before getting run over. Spurs can play Liverpool like they played Madrid, and Liverpool aren't as good as Madrid. Let's say 3-2 Spurs because I know I am going to be sick watching this game.