Tottenham Hotspur F.C. continued their winning ways on Saturday against Middlesbrough F.C. It was the second consecutive game where Spurs performance was less than ideal, but unlike the their draw at the Stadium of Light earlier in the week, Harry Kane’s penalty kick was enough to tack three points on the board.
And an important three points they were. With Liverpool and Arsenal losing to Hull City and Chelsea respectively, Spurs picked up three vital points against two of their chief competitors for the top four. Spurs now hold sole possession of second place in the Premier League, nine points behind first placed Chelsea, with a shade over sixty percent of the season complete. Its a fantastic spot to be in at this point in the campaign.
Liverpool have had a devastating run of form lately and have dipped to fifth place in the table, four points behind Spurs and thirteen off the top spot. Their results have just simply been awful. In their past five games they’ve lost to Swansea, were booted from the EFL Cup by Southhampton, ousted from the FA Cup by Wolverhampton, drew to Chelsea in a solid match from them, but then lost to feeble Hull City over the weekend. Its only spanned over a month, but what an ugly month it has been.
That said, Liverpool are not a side to take lightly no matter their form. Saidio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Philippe Coutinho are about as formidable of a front three as you will see in the Premier League this season save Chelsea, while their midfield of Henderson, Lallana, and Wijnaldum / Can isn’t too shabby either. Mignolet isn’t having the best of terms this year, but with Lovren potentially fit and pairing with Matip in the center-back spots, flanked by Milner and Clyne, their backline is more than capable defensively and can also get forward quite well too.
The bottomline is that Liverpool are a hugely talented squad and their recent struggles are just noise. They are too good not to bounce back and challenge for the top four for the rest of the season. In addition, the game has massive ramifications for not only Champions League places, but also the title race. However unlikely it may be already, any points dropped to Tottenham on Saturday would end Liverpool’s hopes of title contention. While it wouldn’t be a complete death knell for Spurs if they lost, its safe to say that a win would keep them close enough to Chelsea. In short, any points for Spurs would be massive for their end of the season ambitions. Spurs haven’t defeated Liverpool since, wait for it, November 28th, 2012. That is so long ago that AVB might have just finished up his first Dakar Rally. Massive points will be at stake when Spurs travel to Anfield.
How to Watch
[Editor’s note: the big news in soccer broadcasting this week in the USA is that fubo.tv is now offering a new streaming package that includes access to the NBC family of cable networks, including NBC Sports Network. NBC is offered in some markets (but not all), and the service is currently in beta. A link is included below.]
Date/time: Saturday, 5:30 p.m. (UK), 12:30 p.m. ET (USA)
Venue: Anfield, Liverpool, UK
Official: Anthony Taylor
TV: NBC (United States), BT Sport 1, BBC Radio (UK), TSN1, TSNGO (Canada), Optus Sport (Australia), other listings at livesoccertv.com
Streaming: NBC Sports Live Extra (USA), fubo.tv (free 24 hour trial)
Radio: Audio streamed at tottenhamhotspur.com, also often at BBC Radio London,BBC Radio 5 Live, and TalkSport
Team news has ruled Danny Rose out for the remainder of February which is disappointing. Kieran Trippier is working back from an injury sustained against Wycombe, but looks ready to make the match-day eighteen roster on Saturday. In longer term knocks, Jan Vertonghen seems to be progressing nicely and is slated to start training as early as last week. Lastly, Erik Lamela is “taking it step by step”, whatever that means. Either way there is still no timetable on his return.
Spurs have trotted out the 4-2-3-1 the past two matches and have struggled. Sure their finishing hasn’t been the best, but the team has looked uncreative, narrow, and formulaic in this formation — a far cry from the free flowing football we were playing in the Festive period and early January. In general, Poche has played the 3-4-3 either when his best eleven are healthy or when facing a fearsome side. For me, Liverpool meets the latter of this criteria, and Spurs are away from home, so I think Poche falls back to the 3-4-3 lineup.
Hugo will start in net, while Toby Alderweireld, Eric Dier, and Kevin Wimmer will makeup the back three. Kyle Walker and Ben Davies will play on the right and left flank, with Victor and Moose raising havoc in the center of the park. Eriken, Dele, and Harry Kane will form the front three and look to put a few past the struggling Mignolet.
Like a sixteen year old driving stick for the first time, the HUGE storyline in the CFC Prediction League this week was the stall at the top of the table from established frontrunner Jake Meador. The morning hoddler and tactics-man extraordinaire has taken it on the chin over the past few weeks and the rest of the masthead has taken advantage. Four of the writers dropped perfect scorelines for the Middlesbrough game, while seven of the nine picked a Spurs win. This makes it Japanese subway style crowded at the top. Meador, GN Punk, Pardeep Cattry, and Brian Mechanick now share the spoils in first place, with Greenberg, Pachniuk, and Menno nipping at their tails close behind. Its on.
Cartilage Free Captain Prediction League Table
|Earl of Shoop||12|
Dustin Menno: Spurs have drawn all three matches against Liverpool under Klopp. I see no reason that won’t happen again. 1-1 draw.
Matthew Pachniuk: Spurs have found so little success against Liverpool that its hard to be optimistic in this one. To further that idea, both Jan and Danny are out, Poche might roll with the strangling 4-2-3-1, and we are away. With all of this said, awful things happen to my place in the CFC PL Standings AND Tottenham Hotspurs when I pick them to lose so....Spurs 3-1.
Jake Meador: Everything is terrible. 2-0 Liverpool.
GN Punk: 2-2 Draw. Jurgen Klopp chokes out the fourth official at the end of the match.
Skipjack: Everything sucks, 3-0 Liverpool.
Salmon Chase: 2-1 Liverpool based on casual pessimism and a minimum amount of critical thought.
Pardeep Cattry: Two productive attacks are up against a Spurs defense missing starters and a Liverpool defense that's a bit leaky; I'm expecting goals. Liverpool 2-2 Tottenham
Earl of Shoop: What a bunch of downers in these predictions. Liverpool may never walk alone or whatever, but they're also not walking into the top four at our expense this weekend. Spurs 2-1.
Alex Greenberg: Liverpool are quietly the new West Brom. We'll draw them 1-1.
Brian Mechanick: Feeling quietly optimistic this Spurs D is coming along strong again. Time for another tight win. Spurs 1-0.
Bryan Ashlock: I predict that there will never be another Wheeler Dealer Radio ever again. Is that not how this works? Spurs 4-1.