Liverpool vs. Tottenham – 3 key battles, including Emre Can vs. Dele Alli

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Liverpool welcome high-flying Tottenham to Anfield on Saturday evening, and we select three match-ups that could be key to the result.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 17, 2015: Liverpool's Emre Can in action against Tottenham Hotspur during the Premier League match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Kloppaganda)c

The Premier League makes a very welcome return this weekend, and the Reds’ tussle with Spurs is the standout fixture in England’s top flight over the next few days.

Jurgen Klopp‘s men will be desperate to keep their top-four hopes alive, and to bounce back from the harrowing 3-2 defeat to Southampton two weeks ago.

Spurs, meanwhile, are five points adrift of Leicester City at the top of the table, and a win for them on Merseyside would act as a big statement of intent.

There will be a rich array of talent on show at Anfield, and a potentially tight game is likely to be decided by either a moment of brilliance or an individual error.

Here are three key battles to watch out for.

 

Philippe Coutinho vs. Kyle Walker

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 20, 2016: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia in action against Southampton during the FA Premier League match at St Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In terms of style, and the attributes they bring to a side, Philippe Coutinho and Kyle Walker couldn’t really be much different as footballers.

Coutinho is someone who relies on majestic natural ability and creative brilliance, while Walker is all about blistering pace and not much guile.

They will come up against each other on Saturday evening, though, and it will be intriguing to see who comes out on top.

Coutinho will drift in from the left-hand side, in what is likely to be a 4-2-3-1 formation, which will make things tricky for Walker.

The Brazilian has shown time and time again how dangerous he can be in those inside-left areas, with his most recent goal against Southampton the perfect example.

He is never going to beat Walker for pace on the outside, or outmuscle him, so the Spurs man will at least know what is coming.

The England international is not a great defender, and his questionable positional sense and general intelligence can sometimes be his downfall—he is enjoying a good season, however.

Walker’s lung-busting attacking bursts down the right flank are likely to be a constant outlet for Mauricio Pochettino’s side, and this is when Coutinho must be switched on.

He is not always the most committed defender, despite being hard-working, and Alberto Moreno cannot afford to be outnumbered at left-back.

If Walker allows Coutinho to run the show then Liverpool may well triumph, but equally, the Reds’ talisman must help negate his opponents’ threat at the other end of the pitch.

 

Dejan Lovren vs. Harry Kane

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 21, 2015: Liverpool's Dejan Lovren after the 4-1 victory over Manchester City during the Premier League match at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After enduring such a torturous first year or so at Anfield, Dejan Lovren is finally starting to look the part in a Liverpool shirt.

There is a new-found confidence to his play, and the constant errors that were tarnishing his performances have decreased significantly.

On Saturday, he will come up against the most deadly striker in the league on current form in Harry Kane, which will be a real test of his quality.

Kane has shown than he is not just a flash in the pan – he has scored 55 goals over the last two seasons – and his clever movement, intricate link-up play and deadly finishing make him a nightmare for any centre-back.

The 22-year-old often likes to drift into the left channel, which means Lovren is likely to be more involved in stopping Kane than Mamadou Sakho.

He also drops deep in order to become more involved in Spurs’ build-up play, which will also give the Croatian the dilemma of either tracking his man or allowing him space.

Kane is a very slippery customer, and for all Lovren’s noticeable improvements in recent months, he will do well to keep his opponent subdued.

Spurs’ star striker has been a huge reason for their surprise title challenge this season, and in a game of huge importance, they need him to deliver once again.

 

Emre Can vs. Dele Alli

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, March 10, 2016: Liverpool's Emre Can celebrates after the 2-0 victory over Manchester United during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 1st Leg match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A lot of the game is likely to be played in the middle of the park, and who shines most out of Emre Can and Dele Alli could prove vital.

The young duo are two of the Premier League‘s two most in-form midfielders, and their importance to their respective teams cannot be understated.

Can has matured greatly in 2015/16, and his physical dominance, improved defensive work and creativity make him one of the first names on Klopp’s team-sheet currently.

Alli, meanwhile, has been a sensation for Spurs, with the teenager one of the most talented players England has produced for 25 years.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 17, 2015: Tottenham Hotspur's Dele Alli in action against Liverpool during the Premier League match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Kloppaganda)

He has everything in his locker to become a world-class player, and while his seven goals and nine assists have outlined his attacking class, there is also a spikiness to his game that gives him that extra edge, like Can.

Alli will once again be deployed in attacking midfield, and it will be up to Can to extinguish the threat of the elegant 19-year-old.

The Liverpool powerhouse has the ability to dictate play from his deep-lying role, and Alli will no doubt be tasked with pressing the 22-year-old at every opportunity.

It should be an enthralling match-up between two prodigiously gifted footballers, and keeping each other quiet will be very much the order of the day.

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