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Spurs looking “brighter” under Antonio Conte but Liverpool trio hold the key

Tottenham look rejuvenated with Antonio Conte in charge and they are being backed to take points off Liverpool this weekend.

The Reds make a swift return to Premier League action on Sunday afternoon, following their 3-1 win at home to Newcastle.

Awaiting Jurgen Klopp‘s men are a dangerous Spurs side – one who have rid themselves of the Nuno Espirito Santo era and are now looking more of a force under Conte.

This could be a big test of Liverpool’s title credentials, as they look for a third successive win at the impressive Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

With kickoff fast approaching, we spoke to football.london reporter Rob Guest (@RobGuesty) to get the lowdown on Spurs’ season, Liverpool’s title chances and Sunday’s match.

 

How would you assess Tottenham’s start to the season?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 15, 2021: Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min (#7) celebrates after scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Manchester City FC at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It has been an incredibly mixed start to the season for Tottenham.

Topping the table in August with three successive wins, they then followed it up with three straight defeats the following month to put Nuno under pressure.

Despite a couple of positive results at the start of October, the Portuguese was made to pay for some more poor performances and results, as his tenure came to an abrupt end a few weeks later.

Spurs have improved under Conte and things are now looking a lot brighter, given what things were like two months ago.

 

How has Conte started as manager?

STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Saturday, March 18, 2017: Chelsea Manager Antonio Conte ahead of the FA Premier League match against Stoke City at the Bet365 Stadium. (Pic by Laura Malkin/Propaganda)

Apart from the shock European defeat against Slovenian side NS Mura, Spurs have fared well under the Italian so far.

They have won four of his first six games in charge, with three of those victories coming from his first four league games.

Spurs have also kept three clean sheets in those four league fixtures and look to be heading in the right direction after their previous woes at the back.

 

What is Spurs’ primary aim for the campaign?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 16, 2020: Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane (L) and Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A top-four finish is a must, having missed out on the Champions League spots in the past two seasons.

Spurs are right in the mix for fourth, as things stand, and they do have a game in hand over their rivals which could subsequently see them jump into the final spot.

A piece of silverware would also be nice having last won a trophy in 2008, but it’s imperative that they get back in the Champions League again if they want to really push on under Conte.

 

Who have been Spurs’ three most important players this season?

MADRID, SPAIN - Friday, May 31, 2019: Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min during a training session ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC at the Estadio Metropolitano. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Son Heung-min, Eric Dier and Hugo Lloris.

With Harry Kane really struggling in front of goal in the league, Son has topped the charts for goals with six in the league so far.

Dier has been rather impressive at the back and defended well time and time again, with Lloris making a number of important saves week in, week out.

Oliver Skipp, who enjoyed a successful loan spell at Norwich last campaign, also deserves an honourable mention, as it was evident how much he was missed in midfield while he was named on the bench in September.

 

Has anyone struggled?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 31, 2019: Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Kane has looked a shadow of his former self this campaign, despite netting eight goals in 20 appearances in all competitions.

Only one of those goals has come in the league and he will not be happy with that tally as he is usually in and around double figures at this stage of the campaign.

Kane isn’t the only one who has struggled, however, with players such as Tanguy Ndombele, Dele Alli and Steven Bergwijn not hitting the heights on a regular basis.

 

Turning our attention to Liverpool, how are you assessing our title chances?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 1, 2021: Liverpool's Diogo Jota (hidden) celebrates with team-mates after scoring the fourth goal during the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC, the 239th Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. Liverpool won 4-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool have started really well and will definitely be in the mix for the title come the end of the season.

They certainly appear to have been boosted by how they finished last season coming into the new campaign, as well as some key players returning.

Liverpool have really caught the eye and scored goals for fun.

The title race will go right down to the wire and it could be a second league triumph in three years going on their current form.

 

Apart from Salah, which Reds player would you most like to see at Spurs?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, September 15, 2021: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold celebrates scoring the 1st goal during the UEFA Champions League Group B Matchday 1 game between Liverpool FC and AC Milan at Anfield. (Pic by Paul Currie/Propaganda)

Trent Alexander-Arnold could be a real success in Conte’s Spurs setup, as he plays with a three-man defence and wing-backs.

Right-back has been a bit of a problem area over the past couple of seasons and the Liverpool man would solve the issue for good.

Kane and Son would score goals for fun with the England man supplying the ammunition from the right-hand side.

 

Where do you see the key battles taking place on Sunday?

Carrow Road, Norwich, Norfolk, UK. 14th Aug, 2021. Premier League football, Norwich versus Liverpool; Diogo Jota of Liverpool celebrates with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane after he scores for 0-1 in the 26th minute Credit: Action Plus Sports/Alamy Live News

It will be Tottenham‘s back three against Liverpool’s formidable front three.

Spurs need to nullify all three players, most notably Salah, if they are to get anything from the game.

Conte’s men have defended well recently, though, and that will hopefully be the case once again on Sunday.

 

Finally, what’s your prediction?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Thursday, January 28, 2021: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during the FA Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. (Pic by Propaganda)

It will be a lot closer than the same fixture between the sides at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at the start of 2021.

I will go for a 1-1 draw.

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