By Daniel Ghorbal
Just three years ago, these two clubs were competing in a Champions League final against one another, an encounter which Liverpool won. Ever since then, the fates of the two clubs have been completely different, with Tottenham’s rebuild getting well underway this season. Coming just four days after Liverpool booked their place in yet another Champions League final, Anfield will be buoyant. Following the crushing defeat that night in Madrid, a slow start to the following season saw the sacking of Mauricio Pochettino to be replaced by Jose Mourinho, then Ryan Mason, then Nuno Espirito Santo and finally, Antonio Conte which takes us to the present day.
To say Conte has had a huge impact on the state of affairs at the club would be an understatement, he has established a playing style on the club and developed a strong relationship amongst the group. Keeping things relatively tight whilst unleashing the unique that Kane and Son possess has been the story of things so far, and coming into this mammoth clash at Anfield they have their sights firmly set on a place in the top 4.
Although picking up a positive result against a side unbeaten at home in the league this season would be immense, it will not define their season with a huge North-London derby upcoming too.
As far as front threes go, Kane, Son and Kulusevski is up there as one of the best in the division, full of goals, assists and genuine quality. Since the formers arrival, they have really come alive as a forward-line and caused problems in almost every game they have played in.
Kulusevski arrived as a youngster from Juventus who had struggled at stages in Serie A, but he has taken to England like a duck to water and really rubberstamped his mark as a serious talent. By adding his quality to the ranks, it has taken pressure off of Harry Kane and he has really come into his own again.
The failed Manchester City move paired with the tactics of Nuno meant that Kane was a shadow of his former self and really struggling for goals. Since Conte has arrived and the front three was established, he has been full of ingenuity and the goals are starting to flow again. England’s captain has a great record against Liverpool and if he is on his A game then getting on the scoresheet would be a realistic proposition.
Likewise, Heung-Min Son is one of the best players in the Premier League and if he has any chances in-front of goal, he will most probably take them. Son is one of the elite finishers in world football and Liverpool’s high-line will need to be spot on to ensure that his pace in behind does not become an issue.
Defensively, Spurs have unquestionably improved since Conte has arrived and deploted the 3-4-3, but personnel wise injuries and rotation mean they have had to chop and change. Within that though, summer signing Cristian Romero has been a mainstay in the side and been mightily impressive in recent months.
A tenacious but precise defender, Romero has been excellent and transformed the look of the defence. Alongside Dier and Davies, there is a nice mix of composure, quality and grit and therefore a competent defensive unit. Playing on the right-side of defence, he will have his hands tied on Saturday against Luis Diaz who is set to start after his incredible cameo against Villarreal. Likewise, the wing-backs play such a crucial role in Conte’s teams and with both Reguillon and Doherty out injured, the expectation is that Emerson Royal and Ryan Sessegnon will start.
Both players have had indifferent careers at Spurs so far, showing clear signs of potential but struggling to hold down a starting place. Players such as Victor Moses and Achraf Hakimi have played such pivotal roles in Conte teams of the past, with an expectation of attacking output and strong defensive minds. Against arguably the best team in the world in Liverpool, it is vital that both wing-backs’ deicision making is spot on. There will be times when Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold will be caught up the pitch, so it boils down to whether they approach the game with bravery and look to get service into the forward players.
Antonio Conte will be fully aware that Spurs’ chances of picking up a result at Anfield are slim, but his side’s performance against Manchester City proved that they are more than capable. The atmosphere will be electric for a huge occasion, so the likes of Son and Kane will be desperate to spoil the buoyant mood.
Predicted team: Lloris, Emerson, Dier, Romero, Davies, Hoijberg, Bentancur, Son, Kulusevski, Kane