Gareth Bale out, Joel Matip starts, but Spurs defender is absent with shoulder injury December 16, 2020 – Posted in: Soccer
Two of the Premier League’s current title challengers meet on Wednesday night as Liverpool host Tottenham at Anfield.
The clash will be the only midweek game to have fans in attendance following London’s move into tier three coronvirus restriction.
And those Reds supporters will bear witness to an intriguing clash which could really alter the league table heading into the festive period.
Spurs could have opened up a lead at the top on Sunday but stumbled to a 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace and now could see themselves as low as fifth by Thursday night.
In this scenario, we’d see Jurgen Klopp’s men emerge as the new leaders, despite their previous poor injury record threatening to end their dreams of retaining their title.
But Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho has played down the magnitude of the injury crisis at Anfield.
He said: “I think Alisson is not injured. (Trent) Alexander-Arnold is not injured. (Joel) Matip, I believe that he’s going to play. Fabinho is not injured, (Andrew) Robertson is not injured, (Jordan) Henderson is not injured, (Georginio) Wijnaldum is not injured, (Mohamed) Salah is not injured, (Roberto) Firmino is not injured, (Sadio) Mane is not injured.
“(Virgil) Van Dijk is injured and Van Dijk is a very good player of course. But give me Liverpool list of injuries and compared that list with what is the best Liverpool team.
“I can give you a list of 10 injuries at Tottenham. We have two kids of the under-16s with injuries, we have two others in the under-21s and two in the under-23s. We have (Erik) Lamela and (Japhet) Tanganga.
“And here is a list of 10 players. But is (Hugo) Lloris injured? No. (Toby) Alderweireld injured? No. (Eric) Dier injured? No. (Sergio) Reguilon injured no? Harry Kane injured? No. (Heung-min) Son injured? No. Lucas (Moura) injured? No.
“So where are the injuries? Injuries are normal. James Milner is injured, Lamela is injured. You know. Every club has injuries now and again. Liverpool has a big injury. Which is Van Dijk.”
Liverpool boss Klopp, though, was full of praise for his adversary, claiming he sees similarities between the style of play of both clubs.
“I’m not surprised about Tottenham’s development,” Klopp said.
“The style of play, I see a lot of similarities with us to be honest. The way they set it up, the way they build up, they play football.
“You’re right, they are not bothered to sit back on top of that and defend a result with counter-attacks, but that’s not the only strength of Tottenham. If you watch their games, you see they have a proper football side.
“You see Kane dropping in a way Bobby Firmino did, then two quick wingers right and left.
“To defend Kane in these areas is really difficult, then you have really advanced midfielders like a second No.10 with Ndombele or Lo Celso, then two really strong physical and footballing midfielders in Sissoko and Hojbjerg, so that’s football, not only counter-attack.
“You cannot be top of the league only by counter-attacking.
“That’s why I just see what I see. And what I see, unfortunately, is pretty good!”
Liverpool team news
The Reds may be able to call on Joel Matip if he comes through another 24 hours of treatment on a back problem.
But when it comes to the their other injuries, only one could feature against Spurs, admitted Klopp.
“Naby (Keita) maybe,” he replied during his pre-match press conference, when asked if anyone could return for the fixture.
“Naby was yesterday involved in the extended warming up, I would say. There is another session today and we will have to see how he reacts and then we will have to make a decision about that.
“With the others, no. No-one else.”
That leaves the Liverpool with Kostas Tsimikas, Diogo Jota, Joe Gomez, Thiago Alcantara, and Virgil van Dijk (all knee) absent, along with Xherdan Shaqiri, James Milner (hamstring), on the sideline.
Curtis Jones should remain in the starting XI if Keita isn’t fit enough to start.
Liverpool predicted line-up
Tottenham team news
Spurs have some new injury updates ahead of the huge Anfield clash but none seem positive.
Gareth Bale is unlikely to be available to start the game given he was training inside and not outdoors with his teammates on Monday, while Mourinho adds Japhet Tanganga to his injury list.
The young defender picked up a shoulder issue against Royal Antwerp and while there is seemingly no need for surgery, he will now be out for around three weeks.
Erik Lamela continues to recover from a foot problem and won’t be seen again until January.