Liverpool are scheduled to make the trip to Tottenham on Sunday afternoon, one of just four Premier League games currently due to go ahead this weekend.
Jurgen Klopp‘s men picked up a 3-1 win at home to Newcastle on Thursday, taking them back to within a point of leaders Man City.
This weekend, Spurs host Liverpool in what would be their first match for a fortnight after the Londoners had their last three games postponed due to covid outbreaks.
Here are 10 things to know ahead of the match.
1. Conte’s early impact
Conte replaced Nuno Espirito Santo as manager last month. It is still early days but Spurs have shown clear signs of improvement since the Italian came in, picking up 10 points from four league games.
A draw with Everton has been added to by three successive home victories against Leeds, Brentford and Norwich.
They’re seventh at the moment, but should they win their three games in hand they’d be fourth.
The appointment of Conte certainly looks inspired on current evidence – he has won five league titles as a manager, after all.
2. COVID halts Spurs’ progress
Unfortunately for Spurs, their momentum has been halted by covid of late, with no game played since December 5 after nine first-team players tested positive, leading to the closure of their training ground last week.
They have had matches against Rennes, Brighton and Leicester all called off, with Conte saying morale was “very, very down” and training having to be split between different groups.
Spurs returned to training last Sunday after closing their training ground and had been ready to play and were in Leicester on Thursday.
On Friday, Jurgen Klopp questioned why clubs such as Tottenham haven’t been more transparent with their covid cases and we still have no idea who had it and which players are still out with it.
Conte says he has to be careful managing those players returning from covid: “When the players are back from Covid, for sure you have to pay great attention. You can’t give them the same charge of work as other players. They need time to be fit.”
3. How could Spurs line-up?
Given Spurs’ aforementioned problems, predicting their lineup isn’t easy.
Conte himself explained: “Before picking the starting XI, you have to take into consideration, for instance, [whether] to start with one player and, after 60 or 70 minutes, change him with one player who had Covid.
“It’s important to have patience and take the right risk. Every one of us would like to pick the best players, the best starting XI, but you have to understand they need a bit of time to have good form, to be fit and not risk an injury. Otherwise it would be a disaster.”
As things stand, two unnamed players are affected by covid – Son Heung-min is rumoured to be one of them – although that could change in the lead-up to kickoff on Sunday.
Giovani Le Celso is back from injury and Sergio Reguilon could also feature.
Predicted Spurs starting XI: Lloris; Tanganga, Dier, Sanchez; Royal, Winks, Ndombele, Sessegnon; Lucas Moura, Bergwijn; Kane.
4. Who’s missing for Liverpool?
Nat Phillips and Harvey Elliott are the only players definitely out of Sunday’s game.
At the time of writing, news of whether the suspected positive covid tests for Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Curtis Jones are confirmed or actually false positives, is not known.
We also don’t know if any further players tested positive on Friday.
5. Predicting Liverpool’s starting XI
Liverpool’s starting lineup is going to be heavily dependent on whether or not players have avoided the dreaded COVID.
Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho will return if they are eligible to play, but it remains unknown if that will be the case currently.
Naby Keita looked bright when he came on in midweek and he could come in for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in midfield, but in all honesty it could be an unchanged team from Thursday.
Possible Liverpool XI: Alisson; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Konate, Robertson; Henderson, Thiago, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Jota, Mane.
6. Perfect record at Spurs’ new ground
Some new stadiums can feel hollow and lacking in atmosphere, but there is no denying that Spurs’ ground is a spectacular offering.
While its intimidating nature has got to some teams, Liverpool have done superbly there to date.
The Reds have won their first two matches at the creatively-named Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, starting with a 1-0 victory in the title-winning season thanks to a Firmino strike.
Klopp’s men then won 3-1 last season, with Firmino, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Sadio Mane all finding the net.
7. Klopp on covid
Klopp spoke brilliantly about the current covid situation on Friday, showing that he is far more than just a world-class football manager:
“All the wrong information mislead a lot people, that’s the problem. So just say how it is and carry on from there.
“I know all the anti-vaxxers will say Jurgen Klopp said ‘they had the vaccine but now they have the virus’. But that’s what everyone said before, it does not stop it but it makes it rather more unlikely to get it.
“Unfortunately, they had the booster too late for the infection, if they are infected.
“Then we have games Sunday-Wednesday and we have games in the FA Cup, tell me if I’m wrong, but the opponent has no testing regime and the vaccine rate is really low, but we don’t get any information.”
8. Did You Know?
Mohamed Salah scored yet again in the victory over Newcastle, taking his overall tally for the season to a remarkable 22 goals.
In the league, the Egyptian already has 24 goal involvements – 15 goals, nine assists – and he is on the cusp of breaking yet another longstanding record.
Only Alan Shearer (25) has managed more before Christmas in Premier League history, so Salah will have one more opportunity to equal or beat the legendary striker.
You wouldn’t back against it.
9. Tierney takes charge
Paul Tierney will referee the weekend action, while Chris Kavanagh is on VAR duty.
It was Tierney who refereed Liverpool’s 2-2 draw against Man City earlier in the season.
Last term, the Reds were unbeaten in the four league matches Tierney took charge of.
He oversaw the 2-0 win away to Chelsea and 2-1 victory at home to Aston Villa, as well as goalless draws against Newcastle and Man United.
10. Sky’s Sunday offering
Sunday’s match is live on Sky Sports from 4.15pm (GMT), with kickoff at 4.30pm.
Meanwhile, TIA’s matchday live blog will be running as usual – Joanna Durkan is in charge this time around, keeping you company from 3.45pm.
Come on you Reds… see you Sunday, hopefully!