Liverpool take on Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on Sunday as Premier League action resumes following the international break.

Spurs sit in third as it stands, but a trio of defeats in their last four outings now sees them trail the Reds by 15 points.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men suddenly find themselves fighting to stay in the top four, with Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea all within striking distance.

So, what can we expect from the north London club at Anfield?

We caught up with Spurs fan, journalist and author John Crace (@JohnJCrace) to find out…

What hasn’t quite clicked for Spurs over the last four league games?

While Harry Kane, Dele Alli and others were out injured, there were fears Spurs would struggle. Instead they found a way of grinding out a series of unlikely results that kept them in the title mix. Now most players are back, Spurs have been misfiring badly, despite Kane averaging a goal a game in the last four games. 

So what’s gone wrong? Tiredness, a few key players being below their best – Heung-Min Son and Christian Eriksen have looked out of sorts of late – a lack of mental toughness, a lack of depth in the squad? Take your pick!

Is there a concern that Tottenham might drop out of the top four?

This is Spurs! Of course there is. One point out of a possible 12 in the last four games is not the form of a team battling for a top-four finish.

As well as this week’s game against Liverpool, Spurs also have to play Manchester City away.

Hopefully, we will get a lift from playing our remaining five home games in the new stadium. Win all of them and that’s 76 points, which would hopefully sneak us over the line.

How do you rate the season overall?

Up until four games ago, it had been far better than expected, given that we had bought no new players in the last two transfer windows and the ongoing delays to the new stadium. Now we are in a dog fight entirely of our own making.

We are still in the Champions League – though a quarter-final tie against City wasn’t the best draw – and really need to make sure of a top-four finish to help keep the squad together for our first full season back at White Hart Lane.

Liverpool won the reverse fixture at Spurs 2-1 earlier this season; what will Pochettino do differently this time around?

Try to blunt the Liverpool attack, possibly by playing a back three with two wing-backs (playing more as backs than wingers).

The 2-1 scoreline back in September rather flattered Spurs. Erik Lamela’s injury-time goal was a mere consolation in a game in which we were largely outplayed.

Pochettino will also have to make sure his players concentrate for the full 90 minutes. Spurs have switched off in recent games and been punished for it.

Which areas do you think the teams will try to exploit in each other?

Most teams have tried to exploit Spurs’ vulnerability down the flanks – especially on the right where neither Kieran Trippier nor Serge Aurier have looked secure all season. Liverpool are certain to be the same.

The Reds will also seek to snuff out Eriksen: when the Dane is not at his best, the remaining midfield of Moussa Sissoko and Harry Winks have struggled to retain control.

The weaknesses in the Liverpool team are less obvious. Spurs will hope to keep things tight and frustrate the home team in the hope they can take advantage on the counter.

Which player has been Tottenham’s unsung hero?

Many Spurs fans have already crowned Sissoko as their unsung hero. But this is more to do with the improvement on previous seasons when he has struggled to show his real value. While no-one can fault his work-rate, Sissoko seldom manages to impose his presence on a game for the entire 90 minutes.

For me, Jan Vertonghen has been the standout player: he seldom misses a tackle and has led the backline with style.

How do you expect Tottenham to line up at Anfield?

Which Liverpool player do you expect to give Spurs the most problems?

Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino may be the headline draws, but Sadio Mane has looked to be the biggest threat over the past couple of months. Keep him quiet and we might stand a chance.

What have you made of Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool this season?

They have both been outstanding. Klopp has got the team playing the way he wants, the title and the Champions League are both still up for grabs. What more could any supporter ask?

What is your prediction for the match?

I’d be thrilled to come away with a point. But realistically, I’ve already written this one off. Liverpool 2-0 Spurs.

Premier League 2018-19
Premier League 2018-19

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