Liverpool at Tottenham EPL Pick September 15
Following what felt like an interminable international break, the Premier League will be back in action this weekend. The first match of the Saturday docket is a doozy featuring a couple of title contenders. Liverpool, who are currently atop the table after taking all 12 points from their first 4 matches of the new campaign, will travel to North London to take on Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday afternoon. Spurs will enter the game in fifth place.
Spurs have picked up 9 points from their first 4 games. Mauricio Pochettino’s men started the season with 3 straight victories over Newcastle, Fulham and Manchester United before a shocking defeat in their last game at the hands of Watford. Tottenham will be a bit short-handed in this one, as No. 1 goalkeeper Hugo Lloris (thigh) and influential attacker Dele Alli (hamstring) are both set to miss out. The loss of Alli in particularly is a major blow, as Spurs will need all the help they can get in attack against what has been a sturdy Liverpool defense so far this season. Liverpool will remain without central defender Dejan Lovren, who has yet to appear to far this term.
Liverpool will still have to worry about Harry Kane in front of goal. The England captain has bagged 5 goals in 7 career appearances against Jurgen Klopp’s side, but he hasn’t looked quite right so far this season. We haven’t seen Kane playing with his usual pace, which means he’s either playing through injury or just struggling through some poor form at the moment. He has still managed to score twice in the first 4 games of the season, though, so it’s not like he’s been a complete disaster.
Pochettino has ruled out fatigue as a potential problem for Kane, and he said the situation “isn’t one that worries” him. Picking up his third goal of the young season won’t be easy. Liverpool have conceded just once through the first 4 games, and the lone goal came after a calamitous error in possession by new goalkeeper Alisson Becker. Becker got caught out against Leicester City in the last match, but we know Liverpool obviously isn’t considering giving Simon Mingolet another look. The job is Alisson’s in the long term.
Liverpool forked over nearly $100 million to pry Becker from AS Roma over the summer, so they’re certainly not considering putting him on the bench after one mistake. Goalkeeping has been a massive weak spot for this team for years (see the 2018 Champions League Final), and Alisson finally looks like the long-term solution they’ve been seeking for what feels like forever.
The Liverpool defense has also been far better since the arrival of star central defender Virgil van Dijk from Southampton in January. The Reds quietly had one of the better defensive records in England after his arrival in the winter, and an improved defense was a major key for the Reds during their surprise run to the Champions League Final last season. The argument can be made that this is the best defense in the Premier League now with Alisson and van Dijk leading the charge. The notion of Liverpool being trustworthy defensively would’ve sounded absurd as recently as 12 months ago, which goes to show the team’s marked improvement in that regard.
Given the injuries and Kane’s lackluster form, this is a golden opportunity for Liverpool to go on the road and steal some points. They have managed to win every game thus far despite the attack not looking quite as dangerous as we saw last season. The front 3 of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have combined to score 7 goals so far this season, 4 of which have come from Mane. Daniel Sturridge and James Milner are the other Reds to have found the back of the net so far.
A road test at Tottenham is easily the team’s toughest to date after wins over West Ham, Leicester City, Brighton & Hove Albion and Crystal Palace. We know they have more in the tank than they have shown to this point, and Liverpool have had a way of getting up for bigger opponents since Klopp arrived on Merseyside in late 2015. Tottenham got the better of Liverpool in this fixture last season, which is something you know Klopp hasn’t forgotten. Spurs were also fortunate to get a controversial 2-2 draw at Anfield late last season.
Fabinho is unlikely to crack the lineup as he continues to acclimate to Liverpool’s style of play. Once the Brazilian gets up to speed, that Liverpool defense should get even tougher. In the meantime, we can expect some combination of Naby Keita, Jordan Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum and Milner to start in midfield behind the aforementioned front-3. Keita was surprisingly benched for the Leicester match, so it will be interesting to see if he played his way back into the starting XI with some strong showings in training this week.
Liverpool checks every box. Tottenham will also likely be fighting for a spot in Champions League next season, but Liverpool have legitimate title aspirations. They look like the only team in the league capable of keeping up with Manchester City, and I believe they will make the most of their chance at a famous victory here on Saturday. The betting odds essentially have this game as a pick’em with Spurs a slight half-goal favorite.
Liverpool games in the past tended to be fairly unpredictable. The Reds used to be just as likely to score 5 themselves as they were to give up 5 on the other end. Those days appear to be a thing of the past. Spurs will obviously have the home field advantage here, but going on the road and getting results has been a theme for Liverpool over the last couple of seasons. Pochettino will have his side ready, and Tottenham have a solid defense of their own. They were exploited last time out against a lesser Watford side, however, which has to be cause for concern.
Keeping up with Lucas Moura will be priority No. 1 for whichever of Liverpool’s midfielders draw the start. Lucas essentially crushed Manchester United by himself in Spurs’ dramatic 3-0 drubbing of Jose Mourinho’s side a few weeks ago. Moura will easily have a pace advantage over the likes of Henderson and Milner in the middle part of the pitch, so it will be crucial for van Dijk to seal off any and all paths through to Alisson’s goal. Lucas’ presence adds a bit of extra pace that Spurs were lacking before he came to England halfway through last season.
You can’t often get profitable odds when betting on Liverpool, so I’m interested in taking advantage of the rare opportunity. Give me the Reds to take all 3 points here in North London at +131 on the moneyline. I don’t think this short-handed version of Tottenham will keep up. That said, I could see it being a cagey defensive affair, so I’m also inclined to hit the under on 2 1/2 goals.
$100 stake could win...