Is Mourinho vs Klopp a Title Decider Already?

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Liverpool v Spurs: a title showdown

Next Wednesday sees this season’s frontrunners, Tottenham and Liverpool, pitted against each other in what could be a pivotal moment in the title race.

The most recent round of fixtures saw Liverpool return to winning ways having been held by Brighton the week before. Their emphatic 4-0 victory over Wolves highlighted that, despite notable absences in Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Thiago, the Reds refuse to let their hand slip off the trophy.

It is worth noting that since Van Dijk was forced off through injury against Everton back in October, they have conceded just six goals in 11 games, keeping six clean sheets during that period. It seems the ever-reliable Joel Matip has reminded every Liverpool fan of his defensive qualities, while Fabinho’s ability to slot in at centre-back reinforces the notion that the Brazilian is one of Jurgen Klopp’s best signings in recent years.

Meanwhile, Tottenham and Jose Mourinho are posing the biggest threat to Liverpool’s bid to retain the title so far this season, and victory over neighbours Arsenal in their most recent fixture has created a real buzz around the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. After his first season in charge was plagued with successive injuries to the likes of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, Jose Mourinho looks to have built his ideal squad and could be set for a fruitful campaign.

Could Mourinho Really Do it again?

While keeping star players fit can be cited for much of the success this season, Spurs’ shrewd business over the summer has granted Mourinho the license to play his way. Most notably, the addition of Pierre- Emile Hoijberg was the regista they were crying out for; a number six who instils the essence of Mourinho’s intensity, battling for every kick, tackle or duel.

Hoijberg has played every minute of Tottenham’s 11 league fixtures so far, topping the leaderboard for most passes made and completed, while sitting in third place for tackles won. His stable presence in the midfield has allowed Tanguy Ndombele to control the midfield with driving runs and mesmerising dribbles, and the Frenchman looks to be in resurgent form after a slow start to life in north London.

Furthermore, Sergio Reguilon’s arrival from Real Madrid has strengthened up the left-back position which has been a notable weak point for Spurs in recent seasons. He brings relentless energy, pace and attacking threat down the flank, forming a rather terrifying partnership with Son that has seen even the most experienced of defenders undone this season. Not only this, but he too understands the defensive expectation of Mourinho’s tactics, and has shown this side of this game is equally as proficient.

However, having Kane and Son fit and playing together as they are now could be the key for Spurs’ chances this season. The former crashed his eighth goal of the season off the underside of the bar against Arsenal after the latter’s spectacular curling effort moved him within one of Dominic Calvert-Lewin on the top scorer leaderboard.

The England captain spoke after the game, saying him and the South Korean are hitting their "prime" and seem to understand each other better than ever before. Keeping both of them fit is crucial to any hope of silverware.

Klopp Cannot (and will not) be Counted Out

Liverpool look set for another title challenge this season, but if the opening stages of this campaign are anything to go by, it certainly won’t be plain sailing like last year. The increased strength of title rivals such as Tottenham and Chelsea, alongside the obvious threat of Manchester City, has placed added pressure on a Liverpool side that have been stretched very thin due to injuries.

Nevertheless, since their startling blip in the 7-2 defeat to Aston Villa back in October the Reds have gone seven games unbeaten. Much like Tottenham, the new addition of Diogo Jota has added a completely new dimension to the usual three-pronged attack, which many had previously thought to be untouchable after so much success in recent years. Since his arrival from Wolves, the Portuguese international has scored nine goals in 16 appearances, and has more than justified his £50m price tag.

Many were seemingly counting out Liverpool after the spate of injuries, but they have come through this period unscathed and welcoming back the likes of Thiago and Trent Alexander-Arnold will only make them stronger as the season progresses.

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Liverpool v Spurs prediction: is it a title decider?

Liverpool’s win over Wolves extended their unbeaten run at home in the league to 32, winning 31 of those and scoring 93 goals in the process. Anfield has certainly become a fortress for Jurgen Klopp, and the return of fans will only enthuse his side more.

However, Tottenham’s victory in the north London Derby was the 11th time a Mourinho side has had 35% possession or lower, winning nine of those fixtures and losing just one. The Portuguese is not afraid to sit back and invite pressure, and with Liverpool likely to want control at home, this could play into Mourinho’s hands much like it did against Arsenal. Klopp’s side have often looked vulnerable on the break due to their attacking full-backs, something which Spurs will certainly look to exploit whenever they can break free of Liverpool’s pressure.

It may be too early to tell whether these two sides will still be battling it out come the end of the season, but this upcoming fixture could provide an early indication of who may clinch the title.

By Charlie Rhodes

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