With international football now safely tucked away until the summer, the championship run in can kick into gear. Liverpool go into the weekend two points ahead of Manchester City, though the champions have a game in hand. Tottenham may no longer be in the title race – were they ever? I hear you cry – but they can certainly have a say in who finishes top as they play at both Anfield and the Etihad before the season ends.
As Spurs are third, in theory, they represent the toughest remaining opponent for both title challengers. However, their recent league form has been woeful. Over the last four matches, they’ve taken just one point and had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored his injury-time penalty at Wembley, they’d be pointless. Yet they’ve also beaten Dortmund home and away in their last six games too. Will the real Tottenham show up on Sunday afternoon?
Paddy doesn’t think so, as he’s got Liverpool priced at 8/15, with the draw 3/1 and a Spurs victory available at 9/2. History is on the home team’s side too, as Spurs have won one league game at Anfield in the last quarter of a century, and only three in all competitions.
Not only that, but the Reds have lost just one home league game against another member of the big six since Jürgen Klopp took charge, and the loss in question was over three years ago. Liverpool rarely lose at home these days, so it’s no wonder they’re just 1/9 to avoid defeat here.
However, we shouldn’t assume the home side will have it all their own way. Liverpool’s previously watertight defence has sprung a few leaks over recent months. The Reds have conceded as many goals in their last five home league games as they did in the 17 before that.
It’s a similar picture for their home record when they host other big teams in the league. Liverpool have kept just one clean sheet in their last six at Anfield – and that was only secured by Riyad Mahrez missing a penalty – after keeping five shut outs in the seven prior.
Tottenham drew a blank at Stamford Bridge recently, but they scored 11 goals across their five previous big away league games. The form book is pointing towards a few goals and the odds are marginally better value for both teams to score than for over 2.5 goals, so bet accordingly.
The scorer market is not easy to pick from here. Mohamed Salah is the favourite but has only scored once in a ‘big six’ league match this season, and even then it was a penalty. The Egyptian king hasn’t found the net in his last seven appearances for the Reds, or for over 650 minutes in total. That run has to end sooner rather than later though, right?
One man who won’t want his own personal run to end is Sadio Mané.
The former Saint has scored 11 goals in his last 11 Liverpool games, including opening the scoring in the last six matches where the Reds have netted first. Mané has also bagged a goal in the last six league games on the fields of Anfield Road.
And then there’s Bobby Firmino. His haul of 11 league goals in 2018/19 appears rather modest, but five of them have been in matches against other top sides. That’s more than any other player from either side has mustered, and the Brazilian also netted the winner against PSG earlier this term. Is he the man for the big occasion?
I’m going for Salah. The other two have both been away on international duty whereas he has not, so he should be refreshed and ready to end his goal drought.
For Spurs, Harry Kane has a good record at Anfield, scoring three and assisting another in his four league appearances there. He has also bagged all four Tottenham goals since he returned from injury five games ago, plus he scored in both England matches over the past fortnight. It would be a surprise if someone other than Kane found the Liverpool net in this one.
*All odds correct at time of posting