The Last Stand in the EPL Title Race? Liverpool and Spurs Do Battle at Anfield
February 09, 2017
On January 4th, Spurs defeated Chelsea 2-0 at White Hart Lane to end the Blues’ 13-game winning sequence and blow the title race wide open. This followed hot on the heels of Liverpool’s impressive 1-0 victory against Manchester City at Anfield, which reduced Chelsea’s lead to six points and left three or four sides in contention for the title.
Clearly five weeks is a long time in elite-level football, however, as Chelsea have since extended their lead to nine points over Spurs in second and a staggering 13 points over Liverpool, becoming even firmer favourites for the Premier League. This has placed the Reds’ upcoming clash with Spurs at Anfield in an entirely different light, as both sides are now desperate for a win just to keep any lingering title dreams alive.
The Numbers’ Game: A Brief History and Current Form
So rather than being a key game in the title race, this fixture now may well be considered a battle for second (or at best the last stand in the contest for first place.) With Chelsea set to visit Burnley less than 24 hours later, a defeat for either side could leave them out of contention and looking over their shoulders by the time that the weekend is out.
A draw could well eliminate both sides too, and this creates a fascinating dynamic where Liverpool and Spurs must aggressively chase all three points.
In general terms, this is a fixture in which Liverpool have a distinct advantage according to the bookmakers. After all, they are unbeaten in their last nine games against Spurs, with their last defeat at Anfield coming back in May, 2011. There last defeat at any venue against Spurs came more than four years ago, with Liverpool winning six and drawing three of the subsequent encounters.
Liverpool’s recent form overall contrasts sharply with this, however, with the Reds having won just one of their 11 last games in all competitions. They are also winless in five EPL games, winning just four of their last 10 in total.
Conversely, Spurs are unbeaten in their last nine Premier League matches, during which time they have achieved seven wins and two draws. This has accounted for the seven point swing between the two sides, while ensuring that Liverpool’s need for points is more dire heading into the weekend’s encounter.
Who Will Prevail at Anfield?
The recent history in this fixture and the current form guide makes it difficult to select a winner, but the Reds’ more disparate need to win leaves them little option but to attack at pace from the first whistle. While this may appear to suit their game at first glance, it will also enable Spurs to leverage their own defensive strength by sitting deep and hitting Liverpool on the counter-attack. With Liverpool sure to press high, players such as Dele Alli and Harry Kane will have huge amounts of space to exploit in behind the Reds’ defence.
It is therefore hard to look past a Spurs win, in a game that must surely deliver a definitive result one way or another. This would leave Tottenham clinging on to their faint title hopes, while the Reds begin to look over their shoulder as they strive to at least cement a Champions League place for next season.
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