Liverpool play Spurs this Sunday in a fixture that has provided plenty of late drama in recent years, be it Harry Kane penalties, Mo Salah magic or Hugo Lloris blunders. At Anfield they’ve generally been tight affairs, with little between the sides. Hence the late drama.
Will that be the case on this occasion? Well, both sides had big wins in the week in Europe, but have had very different seasons aside. Liverpool are currently 13 points ahead of Tottenham in the league table after just nine games. While the Reds have swept (nearly) all before them, Spurs have been battered at Brighton. The Reds are rampant, Tottenham tepid. You wouldn’t believe that these are the two teams who played out a Champions League Final in June watching them this year.
So what’s gone wrong at Tottenham?
Well they won’t be the first team to have suffered a hangover from a final defeat, and they wont be the last. Which just makes Liverpool’s response to defeat in Kiev the year before all the more impressive. Liverpool lost that final in the most heartbreaking fashion, after an injury to the star man and a goalkeeping horror show.
Not just the defeat but the manner of it could have easily derailed Klopp’s reign. Yet the next season Liverpool put on 97 points in the league and finished it Champions of Europe. Instead of seeing losing the final as a negative, they used reaching it as a sign of how far they’d come. How they were on the right track. How everything Klopp had promised would happen was coming true.
So why the difference? Why was Liverpool reaching a European final made to feel like the start of something brilliant at the club, while Madrid is starting to feel like the end for this Spurs side?
I guess it relates to the story you are able to tell as a club. The feeling from within. Whilst Liverpool quickly signed better footballers, including a new goalkeeper, and threw big money at new deals for existing players, instead Spurs looked more likely to lose stars than recruit them. Even the manager was often linked away from the club. The man who should have been convincing players they were in the right place looked unsure himself.
Like Liverpool five years previously, Spurs still feels something of a stepping stone club for many who are there. It feels there are a couple at least who had expected their performances to have been rewarded with a lucrative move by now, but are still there and are perhaps becoming disgruntled.
As Liverpool have learned in the past you can only keep these players for so long. Especially if they could be earning and winning much more elsewhere.
I dont know what the solution is at Tottenham. I guess it isn’t for me to worry about. They might even be fine. Maybe they’ll beat Liverpool on Sunday and then go on a great run. I hope they don’t, obviously, but it is possible.
But for now it is the Reds that are riding high and we need to enjoy it. As events in North London have shown, sometimes things can change very quickly indeed.