Liverpool’s relentless quadruple quest continues on Saturday evening when they welcome top-four chasing Tottenham Hotspur to Anfield. Fresh from booking their place in a third Champions League final from the last five seasons, Jurgen Klopp’s side play their penultimate home game of an unforgettable campaign against a team with plenty riding on the fixture themselves. Whispers about the possibility of a fabled quadruple have grown louder and louder in recent weeks, and Liverpool are now closer to achieving that mythical feat than any other English club in history.
With the EFL Cup already under their belts, Liverpool have an FA Cup final against Chelsea coming up next Saturday and a Champions League final against Real Madrid looming on May 28 in what will be their 63rd game of the season. The Reds are the first club to have ever reached the final of all of those competitions in a single season, but no sooner had they booked their place in the latter than minds would have started drifting towards Saturday’s visit of Spurs. Such is the unforgiving nature of a quadruple push that every single game for Liverpool is now a must-win, and even that may not be enough with Premier League matters still in Manchester City’s hands.
Liverpool will be hoping that the devastating nature of Man City’s latest Champions League exit carries over into their meeting with Newcastle United on Sunday, but first the Reds must do their own job and keep the pressure on Pep Guardiola’s defending champions.Certainly, Klopp and his players will know that they can ill-afford another 45 minutes like the first half against Villarreal on Tuesday night, when they produced their worst half of the season and saw their first-leg deficit wiped out. Fortunately for the Merseysiders, they snapped out of it and put in a much more characteristic display in the second half to turn the game around, winning 3-2 on the night and 5-2 on aggregate to book their ticket to Paris. The nature of that victory should spur Liverpool on, just as Man City’s defeat could threaten to derail them, but the relentlessness of fixtures for the Reds – and the crucial nature of each of them – means that they cannot afford to take anything for granted.
Nonetheless, Klopp’s men enter Saturday’s match as Europe’s form team, with their only defeat in 29 outings this calendar year being an ultimately meaningless one against Inter Milan in the Champions League. The last six of those games have been wins – against the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United, Villarreal, Everton and Newcastle United – and Liverpool now have just six left of a memorable campaign. At home, Liverpool are unbeaten in 21 league outings with an aggregate score of 52-9 across those fixtures, while they have not dropped a single point at Anfield since October, winning 12 in a row. The Reds have kept 10 clean sheets in that time too, including in each of their last five outings, with Norwich City on February 19 the last Premier League team to breach Liverpool’s defence at Anfield.
The potent Tottenham attack of Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Dejan Kulusevski will be as great a threat to Liverpool’s unbeaten, league-leading home record this season as any they have faced so far, although the Reds do boast a formidable record in this fixture. Liverpool have lost only one of their last 18 meetings with Tottenham, winning 12 of those, while at Anfield that record extends to no defeats in 10 and just one in their last 27. However, manager Antonio Conte has drawn 1-1 on both of his own previous league visits to Anfield, and the wily Italian’s winning experience may be Tottenham’s best hope of halting the Liverpool juggernaut this weekend. The majority of focus will understandably be on the potential implications of this match on the title race, but it is a huge game for Tottenham too as they look to book their place in the Champions League next season.
Spurs currently sit two points adrift of Arsenal either side of the dotted line, with a blockbuster North London derby between the pair looming next week. The Gunners are at home to relegation-threatened Leeds United on Sunday, though, and the expectancy of a win in that match only increases the pressure on Tottenham to get a positive result at Anfield a day earlier. The margin for error is increasingly slim as matches run out, and it could be that even a draw away to Liverpool – a very good result at any other stage of the season – is not enough for Conte’s side if Arsenal go on to beat Leeds the following day. Those circumstances make this contest a mouth-watering prospect, particularly if Tottenham can once again find their scoring touch following a brief drought.Spurs had been scoring freely for much of 2022 before back-to-back games where they failed to even have a shot on target against Brighton & Hove Albion and Brentford.
The one point they picked up from those two matches could ultimately prove fatal to their top-four hopes, but they were back in scoring form last time out as Kane and Son led the way in a 3-1 triumph over Leicester City. Liverpool boast the best defensive record in the league and, as mentioned, have been imperious at the back at home lately, but Tottenham’s deadly duo will fancy their chances against anyone on their day. Indeed, the fact that Spurs are so far unbeaten against the top two this season will act as perhaps the clearest sign that this could be Liverpool’s most difficult remaining league game, with Conte’s side having beaten Man City home and away and drawn 2-2 with Liverpool in the reverse fixture. Liverpool’s high line is sure to give Tottenham chances in behind too, and few teams are better equipped to exploit that, so the visitors will certainly travel to Merseyside believing that they can pull off a result which would have major implications in both the title race and the top-four race.Liverpool came through the midweek trip to Spain unscathed as far as fresh injuries are concerned, with Roberto Firmino still the only doubt for Klopp.
The Brazilian travelled with the squad to Villarreal but did not make the squad, and Klopp hinted in his pre-match press conference that he could hold him back again to ensure that he is fully fit for Tuesday’s match against Aston Villa. Luis Diaz’s half-time introduction was largely credited with inspiring the Liverpool turnaround at El Madrigal, and the Colombian has surely played his way back into the starting XI for this match. big question is who will join him in the front three, with Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah both playing the full 90 minutes in midweek and Diogo Jota having only played 45. It would not be a surprise to see one of Mane or Salah rested this weekend, although next week’s match away to Aston Villa may be a more likely option with one eye also on the FA Cup final next Saturday.
Mane, incidentally, is looking to score in a Premier League game at Anfield for the 50th time, having never lost at the stadium when he has scored in his previous 49 such occasions – the best record of its kind in Premier League history. Klopp is expected to freshen up other areas of the pitch given the constant turnaround in fixtures, with Jordan Henderson likely to come into the midfield and Joel Matip set to return in place of Ibrahima Konate in defence. Kane will have something to say about that, though, and the England captain has scored seven times and assisted twice in 13 Premier League meetings with Liverpool, including four goals and one assist in seven games at Anfield. Son, meanwhile, is chasing down Salah in the Golden Boot race and will be looking for his 20th of the season this weekend.
Tottenham have no new injury concerns to worry about, but they are still contending with a longer list of absentees than their opponents, with the full-back areas particularly hard hit. Matt Doherty, Sergio Reguilon and Japhet Tanganga all remain sidelined, while Oliver Skipp is out for the rest of the season after undergoing surgery. Kulusevski sat out against Leicester but should come back into the starting XI for this one.