Saturday’s fixture between Tottenham and Liverpool was meant to be the grand unveiling of the brand new state-of-the-art White Hart Lane.
As a substitute, it’s a re-run of the fixture that came about at Wembley final October when Spurs ran out complete Four-1 winners towards a dishevelled Liverpool crew.
That outcome was anomalous within the context of Liverpool’s season and certainly in matches between Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino. Of their six managerial conferences within the Premier League, Pochettino and Klopp have drawn 4 and gained one apiece. Liverpool’s 2-Zero victory in February 2017 was much less emphatic however equally one-sided to Spurs’ Four-1.
The very first of these match-ups got here in Klopp’s inaugural sport accountable for Liverpool again in October 2015. Whereas Spurs had but to show their credentials as a real Premier League power at that stage, an away journey to a top-six facet was nonetheless a difficult first take a look at for Klopp.
It was one he got here by means of pretty comfortably, although, with Liverpool rising from north London with a well-earned Zero-Zero draw. Loads has modified for Klopp and Liverpool since then, but comparatively little has for Pochettino and Spurs.
From Klopp’s first-ever Liverpool crew, solely James Milner is in line to function towards Spurs once more this weekend. 5 of that crew – Mamadou Sakho, Martin Skrtel, Lucas Leiva, Emre Can and Philippe Coutinho – have left whereas the opposite 5 – Simon Mignolet, Nathaniel Clyne, Alberto Moreno, Adam Lallana and Divock Origi – are all on the fringes.
Of Liverpool’s seven substitutes that afternoon, exactly none of them are presently on the membership. In nearly full distinction, 13/18 of Spurs’ squad that day are nonetheless influential first-team gamers. Had been it not for accidents to Hugo Lloris and Dele Alli, Pochettino might effectively have named 9 of the identical starters this Saturday.
Even among the many substitutes, Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies have stepped up in current seasons, whereas backup goalkeeper Michel Vorm will deputise for Lloris this weekend.
In some ways, Spurs’ familiarity and Liverpool’s wholesale adjustments from that sport practically three years in the past tells its personal story of the alternate routes each have taken to emerge as challengers to Manchester Metropolis’s crown.
At Spurs, guaranteeing stability throughout the taking part in employees has been as a lot borne out of Pochettino’s teaching philosophy because it has the monetary restrictions imposed by the stadium transfer.
Pochettino’s mantra is that he gained’t exit and purchase a participant that he doesn’t really feel represents a greater possibility than somebody in his current squad. That Spurs have barely added since that Zero-Zero draw demonstrates that.
Xherdan Shaqiri, one in every of Liverpool’s 4 summer time signings, sees constructive: ‘They’ve a crew now that has been taking part in collectively for a few years. In order that’s a plus for them,’ he mentioned.
However, Pochettino should really feel a tinge of envy on the riches Klopp has been given to strengthen his squad. Now in his fifth season with the membership, Pochettino has to this point spent £252m within the switch market; Klopp has spent roughly £386m in 16 months fewer.
Liverpool’s larger sources, allied to the £142m sale of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona, has enabled Klopp to exit and purchase his foremost switch targets to catapult Liverpool from top-four contenders to practical Premier League challengers.
Whereas Virgil Van Dijk, Naby Keita and Alisson have been all Klopp’s first-choices, Pochettino has needed to gamble out there, signing gamers usually throughout the £10m-£25m worth bracket apart from club-record signing, £42m man Davinson Sanchez.
In contrast to Klopp, although, Pochettino hasn’t but needed to re-jig his facet to switch an outgoing star. Kyle Walker was a giant loss however not on the identical scale as Coutinho. If Spurs have been to lose Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and even Harry Kane, that might be a extra becoming comparability.
Liverpool have purchased gamers, Spurs have held onto theirs, however up till now they’ve operated on largely a degree taking part in area. Saturday’s sport affords an early alternative within the season for Liverpool to indicate that their technique has now taken them previous a crew that has completed above them in every of the final 4 years.