Premier League Matchweek 20 preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Liverpool (Thu - 20:00h. GMT - 21:00h. CET) - Team news, possible lineups

Having previously been tipped for Premier League glory, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool find themselves on the periphery of the title-chasing pack as they prepare to lock horns in the capital on Thursday evening.

The two English powerhouses were neck-and-neck at the top of the table during the early stages of the campaign, but dismal spells of form have seen Spurs slip to fifth while Liverpool only just remain in the top four.

The hosts head into this game having enjoyed a 4-1 win over Wycombe Wanderers in the FA Cup, whereas Liverpool were dumped out in the fourth round by Manchester United in a 3-2 thriller.

Match preview

In a tale as old as time, Tottenham did not have it their own way away from home as Wycombe drew first blood in the FA Cup through Fred Onyedinma, and the prospect of yet another giant killing in England's most historic competition was on the cards.

However, Gareth Bale finally managed to put his plethora of missed opportunities behind him as he equalised for Jose Mourinho's side on the stroke of half time, and it was the introduction of a certain French midfielder that helped turn the game on its head during the dying embers.

A delightful effort from Harry Winks propelled Spurs into the lead with only five minutes remaining, and Tanguy Ndombele soon netted a quick-fire brace off the bench to ensure that Tottenham did not have to go to extra time before Thursday's visit of Liverpool.

The unforeseen revival of Ndombele has certainly been a shining light in an underwhelming couple of months for Tottenham, especially with Dele Alli unable to get a look-in, and the nine goal contributions that the Frenchman boasts across all competitions has seen him quickly become one of the first names on Mourinho's team sheet - barely a year after his Tottenham career looked over before it had even started.

Monday's thrashing of Wycombe means that Spurs have now tasted success in five of their last six matches across all competitions - scoring 18 goals and conceding just three in that run - but Mourinho still has his work cut out for him if Spurs are to mount another charge for a maiden Premier League title.

The Lilywhites have eased past Leeds United and Sheffield United either side of a draw with Fulham in 2021, but Spurs have only managed to take maximum points from two of their last seven Premier League outings to sit fifth in the table - one behind fourth-placed Liverpool and seven behind leaders Manchester United - who have both played a game more.

The visit of the holders would normally evoke fear into the hearts of most teams, but Spurs marched to a 2-0 win over then-defending champions Manchester City in the 2019-20 campaign, and victory here would see them beat the reigning champions in successive seasons for the first time since 2001.

On an individual level, the ever-controversial Mourinho will be determined to get one over Liverpool, whom he has lost his last three league meetings against - a run which represents his longest losing streak against a top-flight opponent.

As the only team in the top 13 without a win in their last five league matches, Liverpool's hard-earned crown is slowly slipping off amid their alarming goal drought.

A 1-0 home defeat to Burnley - their first top-flight defeat at Anfield since April 2017 - represented their fourth league game in a row without finding the back of the net, meaning that the Reds are suffering their worst goal drought for over 20 years.

It is simply unfathomable to imagine a team that boasts the famed attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino struggling for goals, but whispers surrounding the former's future are not helping matters in the slightest, although he did manage to break his duck against Man United in the FA Cup.

However, Salah's brace at Old Trafford was in vain as another FA Cup passed Jurgen Klopp by at the weekend. With the tie delicately poised at 2-2, a pinpoint free kick from none other than Bruno Fernandes condemned Liverpool to back-to-back defeats for the first time since October.

The Reds have been afflicted with numerous injuries to key players this season - not least the long-term absences of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez - but even the most ardent of Liverpool supporters will surely accept that they are now outsiders in the title race.

Manchester City - who are in inspired form - can open up a seven-point lead over Klopp's men at the top should they overcome West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday evening, and no matter what happens elsewhere this week, Liverpool cannot rise any higher up the table with a win in the capital.

The Anfield faithful are growing restless for a long-awaited three points, but they can at least take solace in the fact that they have taken the spoils in their last six games with Spurs - including a 1-0 win in this fixture last season thanks to Firmino's winner - although only two of their nine top-flight away matches this season have ended in victories.

This week's fixture at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium represents the first ever top-flight match between Liverpool and Spurs on a Thursday, and having managed to beat the Lilywhites on the other six days of the week, the Reds could follow in Everton and West Ham United's footsteps by beating them on all seven should they prevail in the capital.

Tottenham Hotspur Premier League form: LLDWDW
Tottenham Hotspur form (all competitions): WWWDWW

Liverpool Premier League form: WDDLDL
Liverpool form (all competitions): DLWDLL

Team News

Tottenham are already having to make do without the injured Giovani Lo Celso, and Mourinho reported a few more concerns before Monday's showdown with Wycombe.

Serge Aurier fought off a bout of illness in time to make the bench, but Matt Doherty remains doubtful with an unspecified problem, while Alli was not involved whatsoever due to a reported tendon injury.

The FA Cup win would surely have provided Alli with the chance to earn some valuable minutes, as even if he was fully fit, there is very little chance of Ndombele being displaced in Mourinho's midfield.

A quartet of changes in defence from the FA Cup could see Aurier, Hugo Lloris, Eric Dier and Joe Rodon all return to the fold, but Sergio Reguilon has been ruled out with a muscular injury, while Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Ndombele will occupy spots in the engine room.

Mourinho has a big call to make on the right-hand side, with Bale starting to look sharper after being told he must fight for his minutes, but Steven Bergwijn is expected to get the nod regardless.

Meanwhile, Liverpool are sweating over the fitness of captain Jordan Henderson, who played no part against Man United or Burnley and remains a doubt for this one, although he has trained since.

Should Henderson not make the cut, Thiago and Georginio Wijnaldum look set to be joined by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the middle of the park, although the ever-reliable James Milner is another option for Klopp.

Fabinho and Joel Matip should pair up in defence once again with Gomez and Van Dijk injured, while Naby Keita and Diogo Jota will also be sidelined for a little while longer.

Salah and Firmino were surprisingly benched against Burnley, while Mane appeared as a substitute against Man United, but the trio will certainly feature from the off as the visitors hope to avoid a fifth league game without a goal.

Tottenham Hotspur possible starting lineup:
Lloris; Aurier, Dier, Rodon, Davies; Sissoko, Hojbjerg; Bergwijn, Ndombele, Son; Kane

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Fabinho, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Thiago, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Firmino, Mane

Head To Head

Thursday's game represents the 177th meeting between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in all competitions, with the Reds boasting 86 wins compared to Tottenham's 48.

December's game at Anfield was one of the few Premier League matches with fans in attendance before another national lockdown, and a 2,000-strong Kop witnessed their team come up trumps in a 2-1 win thanks to Firmino's bullet header.

The Brazilian has often been criticised for his lack of goals, but he has managed to find the back of the net in four of his last five league matches against Tottenham.

Source: Sports Mole / Ben Knapton 

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