This is a very difficult preview to write.
I could talk about the form of Heung-Min Son or Dele Alli, or Spurs’ defensive prowess, or the fact that Spurs are undefeated in the League, but it is unlikely that many of this season’s leading protagonists will actually be selected for Tuesday evening’s match.
The Reds are a terrifying prospect, both in the way they play and the threat they pose. They attack with pace and ambition, and have ridiculous energy levels means that their is little let-up for the opposition. Sadio Mané looks like a perfect signing for Jürgen Klopp’s system, and Adam Lallana seems to finally be adding some serious end product to his game. Georginio Wijnaldum has slotted into midfield very tidily, while Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino remain as potent and tricky as ever.
But this has just been a focus on your midfield. The reason I don’t think Liverpool are ready to challenge for the title just yet – although a lack of European football will greatly help – Liverpool’s lack of a 20-goals-a-season striker, and a solid defence. Daniel Sturridge is always going to frustrate with his lack of work ethic, and Divock Origi doesn’t quite seem ready; whilst in defence, James Milner is a stop-gap (albeit an adept one so far) and I worry for Liverpool if Joël Matip gets injured or suffers a dip in form.
Turning my brief, final attention to the EFL Cup – I think Liverpool have a great chance of going one better than last year’s Wembley disappointment. Lack of Europe means Liverpool can prioritise this competition, and you will be motivated by the recent heartache.
Starting XI for Spurs:
We made eleven changes for our last EFL Cup match – when we strolled past Gillingham – and Mauricio Pochettino has suggested that he will do similar again. This would lead to this sort of side being selected:
This team has an awful lot of potential, but the chances of it getting a positive result against (what I assume will be) a full-strength Liverpool at Anfield seem unlikely.
Liverpool fans will recognise at least a few names in the above line-up; perhaps the most terrifying name to read will be Michel Vorm, the Dutch goalkeeper who played a blinder when the two sides met at White Hart Lane in August. He’d be behind a centre-back duo with mixed experience. Cameron Carter-Vickers is an 18 year-old academy sensation who started a competitive fixture for the first time last month against Gillingham; Kevin Wimmer is a very solid Austrian centre-back who made 11 league appearances last season in the absence of Jan Vertonghen. They’ll be flanked by our traditional back-up full-back duo of Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies. It is a solid defence – and Carter-Vickers could grow up to be a star – but it will find the going very tough against the pace and dynamism of Liverpool’s attack.
Eric Dier (or Victor Wanyama, or Mousa Dembele) will play a crucial shielding role, alongside Harry Winks. Winks is probably the academy graduate that Spurs fans are most excited about. He’s steely and gets stuck in but equally is tidy yet ambitious on the ball. At just 20 years of age, he could go a long way. Pochettino has been slowly blooding him into the team – he has made numerous substitute appearances in the league, and there is the sense that this season he is ready to make an impact. Attacking midfielder Joshua Onomah is a step ahead of Winks, having featured in the first team a lot last season, but he is very much still proving himself.
Onto the summer signings spearheading the attack. Moussa Sissoko has been a mixed bag since signing. He makes rangy runs and is ambitious, but still seems slightly off the pace and unfit. His very late move – snatched from the grasps of Everton – meant he did not have a pre-season with Spurs, so we may not see his best until next season. Vincent Janssen is a classic target man; he holds the ball up very impressively, but is still waiting to find his goalscoring touch at the Lane, having scored for fun in the Eredivisie last season. Rapid winger Georges-Kevin Nkoudou has featured intermittently since his deadline-day move from Marseilles, and he will relish the chance to run at Liverpool’s defence.
That should just about cover those Spurs players that will start on Tuesday, but about whom you know little!
’ll end with a completely counterintuitive score prediction, because I can’t bring myself to predict a Spurs defeat – 2-2, Spurs to have it on pens. COYS!
Written by Alex Beck (@biscuitbeck)