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| October 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

Exactly a week after football fans the world over were served a tantalising showdown between league leaders Liverpool and struggling Manchester United, fans of the English game get another douse of their weekend tonic with another high profile teasing clash today.

One of the combatants from last Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Old Trafford will be in the red corner in the form of the Reds, who will be welcoming a team from the capital city of London, Tottenham Hotspur to the imposing venue called Anfield.

 

And again like last weekend’s fixture, on paper, at least, it should be a no contest between the home side and away side with the contrasts in their forms going into the game as wide as the River Thames, which courses through London.

 

Until last weekend’s surprise result at the Theatre of Dreams, European champions, Liverpool had not dropped points at all since last season and were on the cusp of equalling Chelsea’s record of 18 straight wins.

But a surprisingly below par first half performance allowed United seize the initiative and take the lead, albeit in controversial circumstances, before the never-say-die spirit of the Reds allowed the nearly forgotten man, Adam Lallana, pop up with the equaliser five minutes to the end of the game.

 

Besides current form, recent head-to-head clashes between the two are decidedly in favour of the home side, with Spurs fans needing to go back to October 22, 2017 to savour their last victory over Liverpool. Since then they have met four times with the London outfit only managing a draw, which incidentally was at Anfield in 2018.

 

Their last clash was at the 63,000-seater, Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid, Spain, which hosted the final of the UEFA Champions League on June 1. Liverpool comfortably won 2-0.

For many though, reaching the final of the world’s premier football competition for club sides, paper over the signs that all was not really well with the North London outfit.

 

In fact former Liverpool defender, Jamie Carragher threw up an intriguing explanation in midweek to try to explain what had suddenly gone wrong with Mauricio Pochettino and his wards.

Speaking to Sky Sports the man, who wore the famous red Liverpool shirt for 508 times, said he believed the “Tottenham cycle is over”.

 

“How I explain it is that I think this cycle is over for this Tottenham team – and I love this Tottenham team, and I love this Tottenham manager,” Carragher told Monday Night Football.

 

“But last season, getting to the Champions League final papered over some of the cracks slightly. They lost 20 games last season.

 

“So that was my worry for them. Are they going to get back to what we have seen in the last few years from them at the start of this season, or has this team realised it’s not quite good enough to win the Premier League, or to win the Champions League?

 

“It feels like its physical and its mental maybe in the dressing room too. There is a lack of intensity and it comes from the fact they have been together so long and they are not quite good enough. It looks to me like this is the end of it now.

 

 

“They are not going to win the Premier League or the Champions League now. They are just about qualifying for the top four and that was the remit three or four years ago.”

While the former England international’s view may sound a little bit outlandish, many have also questioned Spurs’ failure to freshen up the team over a number of seasons, ostensibly because they were saving money to build their new stadium.

 

However, while the stadium has become a reality, it has come at a cost – the team is no longer as strong as it should be due to lack of investment in the players.

 

Unfortunately events over the summer did not help the situation, with reports of a number of players wanting to jump ship and eventually not doing so for a number of reasons ranging from the club unable   to agree a deal or the player himself reluctant to go the club Spurs wanted him to. So in the end there are quiet a number of players still at the club who if everything had worked out would not be there and which would have freed up space/money for new players.

 

But as things stand, Pochettino just like his Old Trafford opposite number, Ole Gunner Solskjaer did last weekend will not only have to come up with the right game plan, but more importantly get his players to equally believe in it.

The dip in form of the Spurs is just staggering. Between August 2015 and February 23, 2019 the Lilywhites had a very impressive 63% win ratio; but since February 23 it has dropped to just 29%!

 

For the former Liverpool defender, he sums up Spurs problem thus: “I still feel there are some really good players at Tottenham and they have one of the great managers, not just in the Premier League but in Europe. But for me now, him being there for six years with the same players, they have reached a level now where they are not going to go any further.

 

“I tell you what it reminds me of, and this is why I am not going to be too critical of the players or the manager. I was managed by Gerard Houllier for six years, and Rafa Benitez for six years. They are the two biggest influences on my career. They did great jobs for Liverpool and they won trophies.

 

“The thing for us year after year was to win the title. Then we got to second, and we completely fell away. It was almost as though we needed to start again. And with Tottenham, it is as if they need to start again, either with a new manager – not because he’s not good enough, because he is good enough – or with a new squad.

 

“This squad should have been changed before now. The manager has been crying out for that. So I think you have to point fingers at people at the top of the club, because this team needs new players. It just needed freshening up and now it feels like it’s gone on too long.”

Millions of Spurs fans though, will be praying that Carragher ends up like most of the pundits who wrote of United last weekend, and at the end of 90 odd minutes they too will have something to celebrate like Red Devils supporters.

 

However, the big north east clash is not the only match taking place on Week 10, with Arsenal hoping to bounce back from their shock 1-0 Monday night defeat to Sheffield United at Bramall Lane, while Newcastle United will be hoping to build on their spirited but in the end still fruitless display against Chelsea last weekend when they host Wolverhampton Wanderers.

 

While in the final game of the day, which is kicking off at the same time as Liverpool’s, Manchester United is at Carrow Road to face Norwich City acutely aware that only a few weeks ago, the Canaries caused a massive shock in beating two-time defending champions Manchester City 3-2.

For Ole the game is the start of a tough run of four games in just under a fortnight which will test not only his coaching and man-management abilities but also the stamina of his players.

 

The sequence kicked off on Thursday with a fairly long but rewarding trip to Bulgaria to tackle Partizan Belgrade in a Europa League tie which they won 1-0 and then today’s encounter with Norwich before heading to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday to face Chelsea in a League Cup Fourth Round tie before concluding next Saturday with another road game against AFC Bournemouth in the Premier League.

Culled from :Here

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