Tottenham make the daunting trip to Liverpool on Sunday afternoon, but is their current slump as bad as some are claiming?
After both sides tasted success in their midweek exploits in the Champions League, this weekend sees them lock horns in the Premier League.
Anfield awaits Mauricio Pochettino’s under-fire team, following just two wins in their last eight matches in all competitions.
They still have individuals who can hurt anyone on their day, however, and Liverpool will know they pose a major threat in a repeat of last season’s European Cup final.
Ahead of the game, we spoke to Rob Guest (@RobGuesty), Tottenham reporter for football.london, to get his thoughts on both sides’ seasons and Sunday’s meeting.
Tottenham are seventh in the Premier League – how would you assess their start to the season?
It has been a dreadful start for Tottenham, especially considering there was so much promise ahead of the campaign.
The club spent big on Tanguy Ndombele and managed to bring in Giovani Lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon as well, but a combination of poor form and injury means they haven’t made the impact that many expected them to.
The team were far from their best on the opening day against Aston Villa but managed to scrape a win, with a number of their performances since that victory just not good enough.
Spurs have a very good manager and squad, but it will be a very long season if results don’t pick up sooner rather than later.
Where has it all gone so wrong?
It’s hard to put a finger on what exactly has gone wrong for Spurs, given the team they are playing is pretty much the same as in years gone by.
Harry Kane has cut a frustrated figure for large parts of the season and that stems from a lack of creativity behind him.
The team still seem to be so reliant on Christian Eriksen, even though he’s way off his best and looking a certainty to depart in the summer.
Defensively, Spurs have been so poor, too.
Jan Vertonghen seems to have lost a yard of pace over the summer and his positioning has been all over the place at times, with Danny Rose also really struggling at left-back and looking a shadow of his former self.
The fact that Lo Celso and Sessegnon have been injured means that Pochettino has not been able to freshen his team up, while Ndombele is struggling to adapt to life in the Premier League and the manager’s demands on the training pitch.
This Spurs team may have simply run its course.
Will Pochettino still be in charge at the end of the season?
Pochettino is a fantastic manager and he is always going to be linked with a move away when the top jobs such as Real Madrid and Man United are up for grabs.
While some fans have called for him to go after his poor start, it would cost the club millions to sack him and his coaching staff given the long-term contract he signed over a year ago.
Pochettino has always wanted money to improve his team and it really depends on whether or not Daniel Levy gives him what he wants to complete his ‘painful’ rebuild.
I think he will still be in charge come May, although you would have to question whether he will still be there in August.
That will depend on what happens over the summer, in terms of incomings at the club.
Which players have struggled most so far this season?
A lot of the Spurs team have really struggled in the opening couple of months.
The whole defence is all over the place at the minute and it does appear that they will need a brand new back four come August.
Ndombele has not lived up to his Lyon form following his summer move, with fellow midfielders Eriksen and Dele Alli way off it at present.
Kane has contributed goals this season, but he looks far from the player he was a couple of years ago.
What is Spurs’ realistic aim for the campaign now?
The realistic aim is still to finish in the top four.
Spurs are only five points off Chelsea in fourth and they can whittle that lead right down if they can string a good run together.
It didn’t look great in the Champions League after they failed to win their first two games, but they will still be confident of going through and making an impression in the knockout phase once again.
Spurs do need to win some silverware very soon and the FA Cup represents a realistic chance of getting their hands on some.
How do you rate Liverpool’s start to the season? Title favourites?
Liverpool have been fantastic so far this season, probably apart from Sunday’s draw at United.
They are the title favourites at present, given their six-point lead, and you would fancy them to finally end their barren run without a league title if they can keep up their current form.
It’s great to have a six-point lead after nine games of the season, yet Jurgen Klopp and the team know that Man City will punish them if they take their foot off the gas.
Who do you fear most for the Reds on Sunday?
The front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino – they strike fear into all teams and the same will apply this weekend.
They really could have a field day at Anfield, considering the recent performances from the Spurs defence.
Where will the key battles take place?
The key battle will be Liverpool’s front three against Spurs’ defence, as mentioned above.
Pochettino shook things up at the back in midweek against Red Star Belgrade and those who came in will be fighting for a spot at Anfield.
Salah, Mane and Firmino could have so much joy if Spurs cannot contain them.
Finally, hit us with your prediction…
Spurs really are going to have to be at their best if they want to leave Anfield with points in the bag.
I’ll go for a hard-fought 1-1 draw.