Jose Mourinho would desperately love to end Liverpool's unbeaten run, but Paul Higham says Spurs will struggle as he previews Saturday's big game.
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Tottenham v Liverpool
- 1730 kick-off on Sky Sports Premier League
Can anyone beat Liverpool this season? That seems to be the only question left in a title race most people believe is already over, but can you just imagine if Jose Mourinho could be the one to do the unthinkable?
Liverpool have been so good that even with just under half of the season still to play they are only 8/1 to finish the Premier League season unbeaten. Of all the managers to inflict a first defeat, Mourinho would love to be the one to do it.
He’s been there and done it before of course, ever since he shushed the travelling Liverpool fans when winning the 2005 League Cup in Cardiff – the two seem to collide in huge footballing battles.
From that ‘ghost goal’ saga in the 2005 Champions League semi-final to Steven Gerrard’s title slip-up, Mourinho and Liverpool seem to go hand-in-hand in terms of big games.
Mourinho was striding down the Anfield touchline beating his Chelsea-badged chest after they ended Liverpool’s title dreams in 2014 – but four years later a woeful defeat saw him lose his Manchester United job. It is never straightforward when these two meet.
He has struggled against Jurgen Klopp traditionally, winning just twice in ten games against the German.
And this time Mourinho is right up against it as he tries to be that spanner in the works once again, with injuries not helping his slim chances of victory given the widening gulf between the two sides – which sits at a remarkable 28 points at kick-off.
Jose to park the bus?
Harry Kane is out, and midfielders are thin on the ground as Spurs go through a tough time in the treatment room. But, as our columnist Alex Keble rightly points out, Kane’s absence in particular may just play into Mourinho’s strengths as he now has a legitimate reason to ‘park the bus’.
Mourinho’s Spurs have been most un-Mourinholike so far with goals flying in at both ends, defensive leopards don’t change their spots though, and the Portuguese will be itching to plug those defensive leaks as soon as he can.
Tottenham fans won’t tolerate his old school sit-back football style but in this one-off occasion he can bring out the old double decker and try and frustrate Liverpool in the hope of pinching something on the break.
The main problem is, though, that Mourinho’s Spurs just don’t seem capable of keeping clean sheets having managed just two all season, so having a team that has scored in 29 straight games coming to town is hardly ideal.
Spurs have only won one of their last 14 league games against the Reds and Klopp’s outfit just don’t look like losing, whatever team he selects, and after making changes against Everton the likes of Salah, Firmino, Mane, Van Dijk and Henderson have all had a week’s rest to recover from a hectic and successful Christmas.
Liverpool have also rediscovered their defensive nous over the last four games, keeping five straight league clean sheets and eight out of ten in all competitions. They really are an outstanding team and a nightmare to play against with their combination of tireless running and outstanding ability.
You can almost bank on a Liverpool victory, but it’s the manner of the win that we need to focus on, and principally whether Tottenham can trouble Alisson Becker or not on the break – which seems their only real route to goal.
If you have seen Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk play together recently you will have seen a blossoming partnership that could rival anything we’ve seen in years, and without Kane’s clinical eye for goal the best guess is that Spurs won’t be able to breach that solid rearguard.
Prediction: Tottenham 0-2 Liverpool (Sky Bet odds: 17/2)
Best bet: Liverpool to beat Spurs to nil at 9/4
Price Boost: Virgil van Dijk to score a header at 16/1
Tottenham v Liverpool Opta stats
- Tottenham have won just one of their last 14 Premier League meetings with Liverpool (D4 L9), winning 4-1 at Wembley in October 2017.
- After a run of five consecutive away defeats against Tottenham between 2008-2012, Liverpool have lost just one of their six Premier League visits to Spurs (W3 D2).
- Tottenham have won six of their last 10 Premier League home games against sides starting the day top of the table (D1 L3), though they have lost their last two (vs Man City in April 2018 and Liverpool in September 2018).
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last eight Premier League games in London (W5 D3), winning the last three in a row. The Reds haven’t won four consecutive league games in the capital since October 1989.
- Only bottom of the table Norwich City have kept as few Premier League clean sheets this season as Tottenham Hotspur (2). Meanwhile, Liverpool have scored in 29 consecutive matches – the last team to have a longer run in the Premier League were Manchester United in November 2008 (36).
- Liverpool have taken 85 points from their last 87 available in the Premier League (W28 D1), winning their last 11 matches in a row, scoring 28 goals.
- Liverpool have won 58 points from their opening 20 Premier League matches this season – more than they won in two previous full seasons in the competition; 52 in 2011-12 and 54 in 1998-99.
- Spurs manager José Mourinho has won just two of his 10 games against Jürgen Klopp in his managerial career (20%) – among the 114 managers he’s faced more than twice, only against Ronald Koeman (17%, 1 win in 6) does he have a worse win ratio.
- In all competitions, Tottenham have won just two of their last 12 games in which Harry Kane has played no part (D4 L6), failing to win any of their four such matches this term (D3 L1).
- Liverpool’s Sadio Mané has been involved in 11 goals in his last nine Premier League appearances, scoring six and assisting five. He’s only failed to register a goal involvement in one of those nine matches, the Reds’ 2-1 win against Brighton.
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Odds correct as of 2230 GMT on 09/01/19