Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool are two clubs that feature high powered offenses but somewhat banged up defenses. Spurs will be without Danny Rose and Jan Vertonghen, but Liverpool might face their own defensive crisis: today the Evening Standard reports that both Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan are facing late fitness tests and both are doubts for Saturday’s match. Adam Lallana is also a doubt after tweaking his Achilles.
“I’m not 100 per cent sure whether Lovren can train today,” said Jurgen Klopp. “Lallana was out for 2 days with little problem with [his] Achilles. We hope he'll train.”
Klavan has been out with a bacterial infection and has only recently rejoined the team in training.
If both Lovren and Klavan can’t go, Klopp will be in the unenviable position of either starting defensive midfielder Lucas Leiva or 19-year old defender Joe Gomez in central defense alongside Joel Matip. Lucas isn’t a bad defender, and Klopp appears to be trying to convert him into a utility player who’s capable of playing in multiple positions. However, it’d be a bit like having to start Victor Wanyama in Spurs’ back line: probably okay, but not something you’d necessarily want to do given the choice.
Liverpool’s defense is already a bit shaky, having conceded 30 goals this season, the most of any club currently in the top six, and nine goals since the start of 2017. Further defensive frailty on a team that is in the midst of a dismal run of form is good news for Spurs.
However, Liverpool’s offense is really good, and most observers are expecting both sides to go straight at the other’s defense. A shoot-out at Anfield is possible, with lots of chances. Success for either team may come down to whose defense is able to hold up under a barrage of shots and chances. And even with Spurs also missing a couple of key pieces in their defensive unit, I’m starting to feel just a tad bit more comfortable with the way the narrative is shaping up.