Liverpool’s latest test in the Premier League title challenge comes when they host Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
The international break is over and attention now turns back to what is one of the most hotly-contested title races in recent Premier League history.
The Reds currently sit two points clear atop the Premier League table, though Manchester City do have a game in hand on Jurgen Klopp’s men. And Guardiola’s side face off with Fulham a day earlier on Saturday, although whether that is a help or hinderance to Liverpool remains to be seen.
What is certain is that Klopp will be keen to keep his players focused on their own affairs so they can extend their 12-game unbeaten run across all competitions, a streak which has included clean sheets against Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Everton.
Things have been much more challenging for Spurs recently, with Mauricio Pochettino’s men going four games without a win in the Premier League including defeat against Southampton in their final match before the international break.
This slump has seen the north Londoners fall from title race dark horses to barely clinging on to a Champions League spot. Indeed, despite sitting third, the Lilywhites now sit just one point ahead of fierce rivals Arsenal and three points ahead of fifth-placed Man Utd.
The magnitude of this weekend’s task will not be lost on Pochettino either, who takes Spurs to Anfield in search of their first win there in eight attempts across all competitions, dating back to 2011.
Read on for Liverpool vs Tottenham Hotspur TV channel info, predicted XIs, team news and stats.
When is Liverpool vs Spurs?
Competition: Premier League
Date: Sunday, 31 March
Kick-off: 4.30 PM BST
Where can I watch the match live?
UK viewers can watch Liverpool vs Spurs on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League, channels 401 and 402 respectively for Sky customers and channels 511 and 512 respectively for Virgin Media users.
Which side suffered more during the international break?
For years, club managers have bemoaned the timing of international breaks and the effects they can have on their squads. Although the Uefa Nations League has gone a long way to at least removing pointless friendlies, this feeling is still largely shared across Premier League dugouts.
The latest break has been no different, with Liverpool and Spurs players clocking up a combined 95,860 air miles travelling to their respective fixtures.
However, it would appear it is Pochettino’s side that has suffered the most, with Spurs players accounting for 61,883 miles of that total, with Davinson Sanchez (12,185 miles) and Son Heung-min (11, 398 miles) taking up gargantuan trips for Colombia and South Korea respectively. Furthermore, Pochettino has now suffered the loss of Eric Dier after the utility man was injured during England’s win over Czech Republic last week.
The closest a Liverpool player came to making a trip the size of Sanchez and Son’s was Sadio Mane, who made a 5,580-mile round-trip to face Madagascar with Senegal.
Should Spurs fall to a defeat at Anfield, Pochettino will undoubtedly point to this as a defining factor.
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Could Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain return?
Joe Gomez hasn’t featured for Liverpool since suffering an ankle injury against Burnley in December but is now back in training for the Reds. There is a chance he could feature for Klopp against Spurs, should he be required.
The German told Liverpoolfc.com: “It is nice – Joe is not injured anymore and nearly fit.”
For Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, however, Sunday will come a little too early as he will continue to train on a specialist programme after picking up a muscle issue during his 40-minute appearance for Liverpool’s U23s at Derby County on March 8.
Klopp expects the England international to rejoin first team training next week.
“I spoke to him a second ago; Ox is positive, we are all positive,” he said. “It was a little setback, it was not more, but it was a setback. That’s how it is.
“You don’t want to be overly sensitive after a period like this because they train a lot – training is always like this, it’s like stress for the body. You feel something, but you don’t want to mention everything because it [can be] DOMS [delayed onset muscle soreness].
“It was the case with him, it was a little bit more than DOMS, but not really [serious]. We are careful of course, he is working, he is doing a lot and I think will be in training in a week again. Then he will be fine.”
The tragic ‘big six’ record Pochettino must end
Why are Spurs never truly considered as title contenders? Why does their season often turn from challenging at the top of the league to clinging onto a top four spot?
Putting it bluntly, they’re terrible away from home against the ‘big six’.
In Pochettino’s 23 attempts at beating one his top of the table rivals with Spurs, he’s managed it just once, falling to defeat 13 times.
Sure, you could argue that Spurs face another 14 opponents per season and should pick up more points against those sides too, but even Pochettino has admitted this is a defining factor in the north London club’s failures.
“That [record] is why maybe we miss a title, why we don’t win the Premier League,” he said recently. “We finished second last season, third the season before, and of course if in the case we win more games away from home, I’m sure that we would win the title but we miss something to achieve that.”
How everyone thinks Liverpool & Spurs will line up
1. Spurs to nullify Liverpool’s front three
With 45 league goals between them so far this season, there’s no doubting the potency of Liverpool’s famed front three. On their day, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino can tear through any side in Europe like a force of nature.
To combat that, the Evening Standard have predicted Pochettino will field Toby Alderweireld, Davinson Sanchez and Jan Vertonghen as a centre-back trio, assisted on either flank by Kieran Trippier and Danny Rose.
The hope may well be that this strength in numbers can nullify Liverpool’s most dangerous threat, although there is, of course, the risk that a possession-dominant Reds side could pin back Spurs’ wing-backs and leave their forward players isolated.
Evening Standard’s predicted Spurs XI: Lloris; Alderweireld, Sanchez, Vertonghen; Trippier, Sissoko, Eriksen, Dele, Rose; Son, Kane
2. No reward for Lallana
Adam Lallana started Liverpool’s previous two league games before the international break, impressing in both and proving that he can still be a trustworthy option for Jurgen Klopp in midfield.
However, Goal don’t feel this is enough to secure a third successive Premier League start for the ex-Southampton man, with Klopp likely to revert to his Georginio Wijnaldum/Jordan Henderson/Fabinho partnership.
All three offer an incredible amount of defensive solidarity and industry, which could be key in containing Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli, while Henderson proved his passing range once again with some defence splitting deliveries during international duty with England.
3. Pochettino to trust in the diamond
The midfield diamond has become a much-used weapon in the battle between big six sides this season, and the Independent believe Pochettino will once again trust in its merits against Liverpool.
They predict Sanchez and Vertonghen to pair up in defence, shielded by an admittedly doubtful Eric Dier. Alli and Eriksen will be much more attacking freedom, with the former roaming behind Son and Kane to pick up spaces while Eriksen will look to play defence-splitting passes from a slightly deeper position. Both tips of the diamond will be backed up by the constant energy of Moussa Sissoko.
The Independent’s predicted Spurs XI vs Liverpool: Lloris; Aurier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Rose; Dier; Sissoko, Eriksen; Alli; Son, Kane
Liverpool head into this vital clash with an excellent record against Spurs, both recently and historically. The Reds have lost just one of the last 13 meetings between these two, a 4-1 mauling last season that actually kick-started a brilliant run of form for Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Furthermore, the Merseysiders have won 81 of the previous 171 meetings between these two, with Spurs winning just 48.
Liverpool wins: 81 Draws: 42 Tottenham wins: 48
Joe Gomez is back in training for Liverpool after almost four months out with a broken leg.
However, Klopp is unsure whether Trent Alexander-Arnold will be ready as he continues his rehabilitation from the “strange” back injury that ruled him out of international duty.
Xherdan Shaqiri looks set to return from a groin issue, though Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain isn’t quite ready for a long-awaited return.
For Spurs, Harry Winks and Eric Dier are struggling for fitness, with the latter being brought off early into England’s 5-0 win over Czech Republic last week. Victor Wanyama could start as a result.
Davinson Sanchez and Heung-min Son have had testing travel schedules during the international break and may be rested.
Predicted Liverpool XI: Alisson; Milner, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Henderson; Salah, Firmino, Mane
Predicted Spurs XI: Lloris; Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Wanyama, Sissoko, Alli, Eriksen, Son, Kane
This is a huge game for both sides but while Spurs haven’t faltered under pressure recently, Liverpool appear to be moving up the gears once more – the international break should do nothing to change either of those trends.
Klopp will have his squad primed and ready for this test and at home, they’ll have enough to overcome Spurs. Liverpool 3-1 Spurs.