Liverpool v Tottenham: Top-two clash to be tense and tight

Liverpool and Tottenham are locked together at the top of the Premier League, and Kevin Hatchard doesn't reckon we'll see many goals at Anfield.

Liverpool v Tottenham
Wednesday December 16, 20:00
Live on Amazon Prime

Klopp and co tiptoeing through the hazards

This season, football managers are managers in the truest sense. They are having to carefully balance priorities at home and abroad, they are having to monitor the fitness of their players more carefully than ever, and they are having to accept that those players aren't always going to hit top form. Having finally delivered Liverpool's first top-flight title for 30 years, Jürgen Klopp now faces an even stiffer challenge.

Sunday's draw at Fulham was a great example. Liverpool started incredibly slowly, deservedly went behind but found a way to grab a point. The Reds have had to rely on their home form this term - they have won all six of their league games at Anfield, but they haven't won on the road since their 2-0 victory at Chelsea in September.

It doesn't help that Jürgen Klopp is dealing with a long list of injuries. Dynamic forward Diogo Jota is the latest casualty - a knee problem will keep him out of action for several weeks. Centre-backs Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk are out long-term, while summer signing Thiago is still sidelined. There is at least some good news - Joel Matip is expected to recover from a slight back injury, and could resume his centre-back partnership with Fabinho.

Mourinho won't be fazed by Anfield visit

Jose Mourinho has made a habit of defying Liverpool down the years. His first ever trophy as Chelsea boss came against the Reds, as the League Cup was secured at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Steve Gerrard's infamous slip at Anfield was against Mourinho's Chelsea, as a potential league title faded from view. In 29 meetings with the Merseyside behemoth, the Portuguese tactician has won 12 and lost just eight. Of course, it hasn't all been rosy against the Reds - Luis Garcia's infamous "ghost goal" in the 2005 Champions League semi-finals doubtless still rankles.

Now Mourinho travels to Anfield as a league leader, ahead of the champions Liverpool on goal difference. Tottenham have constructed a 10-match unbeaten run in the top flight, and they really should've won Sunday's game at Crystal Palace. A mixture of outstanding goalkeeping from the Eagles' Vicente Guaita and Tottenham's failure to impose themselves in the second half cost them two precious points.

There were positives though, including the continuation of the incredible footballing bond that's developed between Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane - Son provided the assist for Kane's goal at Selhurst Park, and those two are well on their way to being the most productive pairing in Premier League history. They have already linked up for 12 top-flight goals this term.

Gareth Bale is expected to return to the squad after illness (not COVID-19), while Erik Lamela is still sidelined.

Anfield record must be respected

Liverpool haven't lost a Premier League home match since April 2017, and since then they have won 54 out of 65 top-flight games at Anfield, including 31 of the last 32. This season they have demolished a very good Leicester side 3-0, hammered a usually tough Wolves 4-0 and completely outplayed Arsenal in a 3-1 victory.

On that basis, you'd say it's a rare opportunity to back Liverpool in the Match Odds market at the relatively chunky price of 1.85. Tottenham are having a great season, but the Opta stats suggest they may find this tough. Mourinho has never won an away game against a Jürgen Klopp team, Spurs have lost their last five meetings with the Reds, and they have lost on ten of their last 15 PL visits to Anfield.

Pragmatic Mourinho will look to lock things down

Spurs drew 0-0 at Chelsea and beat Manchester City and Arsenal 2-0. Mourinho tends to revert to type in these big games, looking to contain. It's also worth looking at Tottenham's general pattern in the PL - eight of their 11 top-flight matches have featured fewer than three goals, including the last five.

Conversely, all of Liverpool's PL home games have seen an Over 2.5 Goals bet land, but they are facing arguably their toughest test of the season here, not to mention the Premier League's best defence (10 goals conceded in 12 games).

I think Under 2.5 Goals is over-priced here at 2.34.

Alternatively you could use the Sportsbook's Same Game Multi, and back Liverpool/Draw Double Chance and Under 3.5 Goals at 1.77.

Stellar Salah worth a look

Mohamed Salah scored his tenth league goal of the season on Sunday, and he is only a goal behind Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the race to be top scorer. The Egyptian international is currently the 4.5 favourite in the Top Goalscorer market, and he is trading at 2.1 to score in this match.

Heung-Min Son (ten PL goals) is priced at 3.5 to find the net, with Harry Kane 2.86.

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