IT could be argued that since going down in the second half at St Mary’s two weeks ago our league season has effectively ended, writes CHARLIE CHRISTIAN.
It’s true that our chances of finishing in the top four have greatly diminished as a result of those shambolic 45 minutes but there’s still every reason to believe a win tomorrow could be big for the Reds.
If it wasn’t for the fairytale of Leicester City’s likely title win capturing the imagination of so many, it’s fair to imagine that much more attention would have been paid to Mauricio Pochettino’s side by fans and journalists alike this year.
Spurs have been remarkably impressive all season, quietly performing with the sort of steely consistency that has eluded our own team for so much of this campaign.
Beating Tottenham tomorrow evening would lay down a marker as we head into the final stretch of games for this season.
We’ve proved ourselves capable of some incredible attacking play since Jürgen Klopp took over and, as Emre Can rightly pointed out this week, our progress as a side hasn’t been reflected by our current league position.
This match provides an ideal opportunity to prove to the rest of the division just how much we’ve improved in the six months since Jürgen’s appointment as well as kickstart a much-needed bit of momentum heading into our crucial Europa League tie against Borussia Dortmund.
It’s easy to feel frustration at the way ourselves and Tottenham have effectively switched positions in the space of just two years.
It’s them rather than us pushing for the title, with our own side hovering in and around the Europa League places. This may be dismissed as tribal entitlement but seeing a club like Spurs who have no real record of title pushes challenging at the top level while we flounder in mid-table sticks in the craw.
However, there are lessons for us in the way Spurs have pushed on under Pochettino. Their improvement has come from a relatively simple process — appointing a proven manager, giving him time to implement his own philosophy and backing him in the transfer market.
The returns so far have been spectacular and could get even better, with Tottenham going from the unorganised mess we all ridiculed under Tim Sherwood to the solid, expertly drilled outfit we’ll face tomorrow.
In Pochettino and Klopp we see a pair of relatively young, progressive managers and there’s reason to believe we’re going in the same direction of travel we’ve seen from Tottenham in the last two seasons.
— Tottenham Hotspur-US (@Spurs_US) March 30, 2016
Our improvement at the back has been evident in the six months Klopp has been in charge, with players many wrote off as deadweights such as Dejan Lovren looking remarkably accomplished.
The process is still a long way from being complete as the horror show at St Mary’s served to remind us, but already we can see what a manager with real footballing pedigree can do to turn a side that so often resembled 11 individuals under Brendan Rodgers into a cohesive, well-organised unit.
On top of that, Jürgen’s much talked about emphasis on high pressing has paid dividends in attack.
Roberto Firmino has been one of the league’s best performing players since the turn of the year and there are signs that Philippe Coutinho might be regaining the consistency we’ve missed from him at times this year.
We’re a long way from seeing the scintillating football we were treated to on a weekly basis back in 2013-14 but the groundwork for a side just as devastating and — crucially — more balanced, is there.
Late kick-offs at Anfield always have a bit more about them and tomorrow will be no exception.
Our chances of grabbing a top-four spot may be slim now but what better way to state our intent of getting back to the top level than roaring the team on to a victory over one of this season’s most impressive sides?
As good as Spurs are, the last five meetings between the sides make for good reading for Reds. Before October’s 0-0 draw at White Hart Lane, Liverpool won 3-2 at Anfield in February 2015, 3-0 at White Hart Lane in August 2014, 4-0 at Anfield in March 2014 and 5-0 at White Hart Lane in December 2013.
Tottenham tend to be a side Liverpool find an extra gear for.
Let’s have these…