Ange Postecoglou will not survive many more defensive nightmares after latest Tottenham meltdown

Ange Postecoglou urges his players to concentrate
Ange Postecoglou must spend the summer reminding his players how to defend - Shutterstock/Adam Vaughan

Oh, Ange mate. What was that first 72 minutes all about?

The Postecoglou-Spurs honeymoon ended months ago, but if there are more defensive away days like this there could be serious compatibility issues for the coach to discuss with Daniel Levy.

We have seen plenty of evidence Postecoglou knows how to direct his players towards goal. He must spend the summer reminding them how to protect it.

Do not allow a late rally when 4-0 down to Liverpool to give a false impression. This was a pitiful defensive capitulation for a side which, for most of a strange afternoon, seemed to have forgotten that the flip-flops are only supposed to come out when there is nothing left to play for.

Spurs have now conceded 58 times in the Premier League this season. That’s a whopping 30 more than Arsenal. Crystal Palace, Fulham, Everton and even the under-siege Manchester United defence has let in fewer.

At its worst and most primitive, the definition of ‘Ange-ball’ can seem nothing more than an extension of ‘pinball’. When the latest defeat descended to the level of unstructured carnage, the visitors’ gave themselves an unexpected and undeserved glimmer of hope at Anfield, Richarlison leading a cavalry charge from the bench with a goal and an assist for Heung-min Son.

Goals from Richarlison and Heung-min Son give Spurs brief hope
Goals from Richarlison and Heung-min Son gave Spurs brief hope - Shutterstock/Adam Vaughan

The urgency which brought Spurs two late goals made what preceded it more bizarre, although Postecoglou suggested his side getting stronger towards a frantic climax was part of the masterplan.

If the ploy was to re-enact Muhammad Ali’s ‘rope-a-dope’ strategy against George Foreman in the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ it may have been wiser not to concede so many to the point where his defenders were scrapping with each other.

The sight of Emerson Royal and Cristian Romero arguing as Liverpool somehow contrived to only score four summed up the shambles.

Royal, especially, would have been better advised to have shown more fight against Mohamed Salah, who ran him ragged before the full-back’s withdrawal was the least surprising substitution of the day.

What followed with the trio of subs – Richarlison, James Maddison and Oliver Tripp arrived just after Harvey Elliott slammed in Liverpool’s fourth on 59 minutes – enabled Postecoglou to offer a radically different perception of the overall performance. In truth, Jurgen Klopp taking off his anchorman Wataru Endo was as influential in Liverpool’s brief discomfort.

Postecoglou’s suggestion his side “looked more like ourselves” even when four-down was at best delusional, and at worst worrying if it is true.

Even at their most dangerous towards full-time, this looked like the application of an extreme football romantics’ experiment. Spurs have embarked on a full 180-degree rotation from the years of Jose Mourinho, Nuno Espirito Santo and Antonio Conte ordering full-backs to venture beyond the halfway line with utmost care. They may be taking the scenic route to the same destination, outside the top four. Lose to Burnley next Saturday and Postecoglou will have the same win ratio, just under 50 per cent, that Nuno held when he was sacked in Nov 2021.

The new-look Spurs side does not yet look like it has the capacity to thrive in an orthodox way. Its deep, structural flaws invite world-class players such as Salah to inflict maximum punishment, before tactical, reckless abandon in pursuit of a reprieve charms the neutrals. There is no denying the entertainment value when Spurs approach games in the toughest venues like this, even if rudimentary professional standards appear to be an option rather than compulsion. It is naive to attribute it solely to personnel, however, when Liverpool counter-attacks were occasionally seven versus two and a Spurs midfielder with defensive instincts is becoming as rare a species as Conservative mayor.

Mohamed Salah heads Liverpool in front to start the scoring
Mohamed Salah headed Liverpool in front to start the scoring - Shutterstock/Adam Vaughan

In possession, Spurs’ intent was admirable. Without it, they always looked vulnerable, with a negligent lack of attention on how Liverpool hurt teams.

The fact Spurs kicked off with so much at stake made their performance more unedifying.

It was difficult to know who to most feel sorry for. The away fans who endured the first three quarters of such a one-sided game, or the Arsenal supporters still clinging to the hope their north London rivals will stop Manchester City in their penultimate fixture. Not playing like this.

With Aston Villa losing to Brighton, the door was ajar to a late Spurs’ bid for Champions League football. Liverpool were not exactly there for the taking at Anfield. They never are on their own turf, and with the Kop in a party mood as Jurgen Klopp’s farewell heads towards last orders, Spurs evidently arrived a couple of weeks too late.

Salah was back to his best, Elliott reminded next manager Arne Slot of the young quality he is inheriting and the three-week aberration that cost the chance to win more trophies was cast aside.

Harvey Elliott fires a rocket into the top corner
Harvey Elliott fired a rocket into the top corner - Shutterstock/Adam Vaughan

Klopp has been looking and sounding demob happy since the Premier League title was out of reach. Mathematically, it actually isn’t. City and Arsenal need one more win to guarantee they cannot be caught, and they will obviously get it, but Klopp was correct pre-match to ask the question how many supporters would have been happy with taking a title ‘bid’ to matchday 37 at the start of this season. Unfortunately for him, as the tumbleweed was still rolling after the defeats to Crystal Palace and Everton, he knew the Kop was still thinking about the bad news.

A frantic 10 minutes aside, this was a reminder that there is more to encourage than concern the next manager, albeit they have faced fewer teams more generous at offering chances than Spurs.

Tottenham’s defensive frailties raise fundamental questions about where Ange’s vision is actually leading them. They can surely forget the top four. It might be the Europa Conference League if they’re not careful.

Liverpool vs Tottenham: As it happened

07:20 PM BST

Postecoglou speaking to BBC....

I think some will question the definition of “played well” if you fail to look dangerous and the opposition does so constantly. But I know what he means.

I thought first half, we actually played well, it’s just whenever we got to the final third just nothing came of it and I think it allowed Liverpool to get comfortable and the flip side of that, when they got into our box, they were looking dangerous with the player they have. Obviously them getting the two goals made it difficult for us and in the second half, they obviously scored a couple of exceptional goals.

I still thought our football was good in general and at least in the last half hour, our front third started to click a little bit more and looked a little bit more dangerous. A couple of goals, created a couple more [chances]. It is disappointing obviously when you lose but at least today, I can hold on to the fact that we looked more like ourselves.

Tottenham's head coach Ange Postecoglou gestures as he leaves the pitch at the end of the English Premier League soccer match
Tottenham's head coach Ange Postecoglou gestures as he leaves the pitch at the end of the English Premier League soccer match

07:11 PM BST

Postecoglou speaking after the game

We’re disappointed with the outcome and we gave ourselves a mountain to climb. Today was more like ourselves, we kept trying to play our football and didn’t waiver in our belief.

07:07 PM BST

Klopp on his emotions

I would be lying if I said I was at my highest emotion but I have another game. In two weeks time is another day. I have said it before, I love absolutely everything about this club. We will see how this game will be. Maybe it’s pouring down and we cannot stay outside for long. There’s a good chance it’ll be raining, by the way.

07:03 PM BST

Klopp on Liverpool

It was a bit what we are: outstanding until we are not. It was a really good game. It was the whole situation. Villa lost before and Spurs can close the gap to the top four. We are safe in top four. In high performance, you need to find a reason.

The boys showed it. Anfield was a special place again because the boys were outstanding, until we were not, then we saw how dangerous Spurs could be if we let them.

Jurgen Klopp manager of Liverpool celebrating with the fans at the end of the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur
Jurgen Klopp manager of Liverpool celebrating with the fans at the end of the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur

06:53 PM BST

Harvey Elliott on his strike

There was motivation to go out there and put it right. We know we’ve not been good enough in the last few weeks and we wanted to put it right.

I thought it was going over to be honest [his goal]. I saw it drop at the end. It’s about time I scored a goal, I think I’ve hit the bar and the post in the last few games.

Liverpool's Harvey Elliott scores their fourth goal past Tottenham Hotspur's Guglielmo Vicario
Liverpool's Harvey Elliott scores their fourth goal past Tottenham Hotspur's Guglielmo Vicario

06:42 PM BST

Gakpo on Liverpool’s performance

It was a disappointing few weeks where the results were not what we wanted. We could have scored more. It was a good day.

Everyone wanted to do their best in the last few weeks but it didn’t work. We wanted to enjoy it, play for goals, defend together and it was a good result.

It was a good result and a good header. I’m very happy, very blessed. That was one for my son.

06:37 PM BST

Klopp straight over to the Kop at the end

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp celebrates after the Premier League match at Anfield
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp celebrates after the Premier League match at Anfield

06:26 PM BST

FT: Liverpool 4 Spurs 2

Liverpool made hard work of that towards the end having raced into a 4-0 lead, but a well-earned victory. They were in a different class to a porous Spurs team for 70 minutes or so. Postecoglou’s changes improved them, but could also be read as a signal that he picked the wrong team. Liverpool lift the gloom and ensure Klopp has the chance to go out with some goals and wins. Spurs need Liverpool to do them a favour next week against Villa, but hopes of top four are almost extinguished.

Liverpool's players celebrate at the end of the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur
Liverpool's players celebrate at the end of the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur

06:24 PM BST

96 minutes: Liverpool 4 Spurs 2

Liverpool can see the finish line after Porro gives a foul away against Nunez. This victory mathematically keeps Liverpool in the title race, but they would require Arsenal and City to lose all of their remaining matches. Which is long odds, if not infinity.

06:22 PM BST

94 minutes: Liverpool 4 Spurs 2

Not for the first time, or the last, Nunez’s final ball let him down when he could have squared it for Gakpo. Then Nunez gets in behind again and successfully squares for Salah to score, but he made his run too early. Offside. Never a dull moment with Nunez around.

06:20 PM BST

92 minutes: Liverpool 4 Spurs 2

Liverpool have a corner after a Salah pass deflects off Skipp. You would think Liverpool have seen off the danger now and can see this out. Spurs win a free-kick though from a Nunez handball. Still five minutes or so for them to attack.

06:18 PM BST

90 minutes: Liverpool 4 Spurs 2

Liverpool living a little dangerously again. Maddison fed a dangerous low ball across the area but no white shirt was there to meet it.

There will be SEVEN minutes of added time to play.

06:16 PM BST

87 minutes: Liverpool 4 Spurs 2

Salah slips a pass into the penalty area for the substitute Szoboszlai, but his shot from a tight angle was wide.

Then Son picked out Richarlison with a lovely through ball, who forced Alisson into a save. The ball bounced up for Johnson to attack, but Gomez did well to hook the ball away from him. VAR checked for a penalty for a high foot, but Gomez got the ball. That could have made for a nervy ending.

Liverpool's Joe Gomez in action with Tottenham Hotspur's Brennan Johnson
Liverpool's Joe Gomez in action with Tottenham Hotspur's Brennan Johnson

06:13 PM BST

84 minutes: Liverpool 4 Spurs 2

Alexander-Arnold with a cracking effort to score from almost the halfway line, which was just a yard or so too high with Vicario beaten. Harvey Elliott then gets a standing ovation after he comes off. Spurs with the ball around the Liverpool box but they cannot find a telling shot or pass. A very entertaining finish.

06:09 PM BST

81 minutes: Liverpool 4 Spurs 2

The game has gone haywire. First, Spurs survived the ball pinballing around in their box before Van Dijk was caught on the ball in his own half. The flag goes up for offside against Salah.

06:07 PM BST

79 minutes: Liverpool 4 Spurs 2

Liverpool starting to give the ball away and concede fouls. Another moment of danger as Son skips into the area, but he lost his balance as he tried to beat Quansah with a trick.

From nowhere, this has started to get messy for the home side. Klopp has made too many substitutions which have backfired, while Postecoglou’s have given Spurs hope.

06:05 PM BST

GOOOALL! Son pulls another goal back

Are win in for more silliness at Anfield between Liverpool and Spurs? Skipp squeezed a pass through to Richarlison in the box, and he laid the ball back to Son who finished. Spurs have a spring in their step now. They couldn’t could they? Liverpool have just relaxed a little bit.

Son Heung-Min of Tottenham Hotspur scores his team's second goal
Son Heung-Min of Tottenham Hotspur scores his team's second goal

06:02 PM BST

74 minutes: Liverpool 4 Spurs 1

Surely no more than a consolation goal for Spurs. Klopp is making a couple of changes: Mac Allister and Diaz off for Gravenberch and Nunez. The Spurs defenders will not be too pleased about seeing Nunez introduced as their legs tire.

06:00 PM BST

GOOOALL! Richarlison pulls one back

That was a well-worked Spurs move, taking advantage of a Liverpool defence that is starting to sag. Johnson was played in behind Gomez, and Richarlison flicked his low cross beyond Alisson with a deft finish.

Tottenham's Richarlison, center, scores his side's first goal during the English Premier League soccer match
Tottenham's Richarlison, center, scores his side's first goal during the English Premier League soccer match

05:59 PM BST

71 minutes: Liverpool 4 Spurs 0

Elliott with another shot from range, but this one skips through into the arms of Vicario.

05:56 PM BST

68 minutes: Liverpool 4 Spurs 0

Richarlison got in behind the Liverpool defence, but the flag went up for offside belatedly. The Spurs fans in the Anfield Road end are still in good voice. At least (most of them) will not have work in the morning. This game and season is drifting to a conclusion.

05:53 PM BST

65 minutes: Liverpool 4 Spurs 0

A big moment for a promising Liverpool youngster: Bajcetic is back on the pitch for the first time since suffering a serious injury last year. Still only 19. Joe Gomez comes on with him.

05:50 PM BST

62 minutes: Liverpool 4 Spurs 0

Postecoglou was ready to make that triple change when the Elliott goal flew in. Richarlison, Skipp and Maddison are the players on. Within a couple of minutes, Maddison fires a free-kick into the wall and then a tame shot is straight at Alisson. Bissouma booked for dissent after a decision goes against him.

05:48 PM BST

GOOOAAALL! Elliott with a screamer

Harvey Elliott has been lively in this game, and that was a Salah-esque finish. Cutting inside from the right after another poor Emerson Royal header, Elliott takes the ball beyond Bentancur before bending the ball into the top corner with his left foot from 25 yards. A brilliant moment for him.

Elliott deserved that. As for Spurs... deary me... didn’t they get the message that Villa lost?

Liverpool's Harvey Elliott, front, scores his side's 4th goal during the English Premier League soccer match
Liverpool's Harvey Elliott, front, scores his side's 4th goal during the English Premier League soccer match

05:46 PM BST

58 minutes: Liverpool 3 Spurs 0

Liverpool still very comfortable, everyone wants a touch of the ball. Spurs look beaten. Postecoglou is preparing a triple change, with Maddison and Richarlison getting ready.

05:42 PM BST

A rare case of a Royal popular in Liverpool

I’m not saying Emerson Royal is giving the worst away performance by a footballer at Anfield this season, but he is in the top one. Harvey Elliott has been outstanding for Liverpool, so credit him for stealing from Royal to assist Gakpo for the third.

05:41 PM BST

53 minutes: Liverpool 3 Spurs 0

This had the potential to be a nerve-shredding game of immense significance, but is turning into the first of two Klopp Anfield farewell parties. Liverpool playing all of the hits. A brief moment of danger as Johnson heads at Alisson.

05:38 PM BST

GOOOALL! Gakpo heads home, Liverpool on easy street

Emerson Royal caught on the ball, and Elliott pinches it from his blindside. Elliott clips a cross into the box for Gakpo to attack, and he gets up above Romero to power a header home. That was like a proper centre-forward’s header.

Liverpool's Dutch striker #18 Cody Gakpo
Liverpool's Dutch striker #18 Cody Gakpo

05:35 PM BST

47 minutes: Liverpool 2 Spurs 0

Opportunities at both ends at the start of the second half. Bissouma won the ball high for Spurs but Son could not sort his feet out, before Liverpool broke at speed. Salah in acres down the right but his shot was tame and easy for Vicario. Gary Neville says Spurs are looking a little “legless”. They might not be alone on a bank holiday Sunday.

05:33 PM BST

We’re back under way in the second half

Spurs need to start the half fast once again, but this time create a bit more.

05:23 PM BST

Chris’s HT verdict

The half-time score flatters Spurs, who after keeping the ball for the first three minutes have been shocking ever since. For Liverpool, that first half is a return to form too late to keep their title hopes alive. Spurs should have been full of enthusiasm after Villa’s defeat. They do not look like a team that cares about Champions League football.

Tottenham Hotspur's Guglielmo Vicario and Yves Bissouma react after Liverpool's Andrew Robertson scores their second goal
Tottenham Hotspur's Guglielmo Vicario and Yves Bissouma react after Liverpool's Andrew Robertson scores their second goal

05:19 PM BST

Salah a Spurs scourge

05:19 PM BST

HT: Liverpool 2 Spurs 0

Aside from some early Spurs possession, this has been one-way traffic. Liverpool have had 13 shots and a whopping eight on target, Spurs just one shot which was off target. Some slick play from Klopp’s team, who have targeted Emerson Royal at left-back. They could be out of sight.

05:16 PM BST

GOOOOAALL! There it is...Robertson scores

That second goal has been coming, Liverpool have been carving Spurs up. Lovely pass around the corner from Gakpo for Alexander-Arnold, who stands up a cross to Robertson at the back post. He squared for Diaz to shoot, Vicario made the save, but Robertson was there to tap home the rebound. Onside, Liverpool in control.

Liverpool's Andrew Robertson scores their second goal
Liverpool's Andrew Robertson scores their second goal

05:14 PM BST

Liverpool need to get ruthless

Liverpool need to be careful they do not suffer the affliction of ‘Old Trafford-itis’ - whereby they keep creating openings but it seems too easy and they fail to make their superiority count. Spurs have been getting progressively worse.

05:13 PM BST

43 minutes: Liverpool 1 Spurs 0

Poor old Emerson Royal has not really been helped by Johnson’s defensive work. Another chance goes begging for Liverpool. Romero with a short pass in his own area, but Alexander-Arnold shoots over after cutting back on his left foot.

05:11 PM BST

41 minutes: Liverpool 1 Spurs 0

Alexander-Arnold with two nearly moments. First a strike from just outside the area which was blocked, before he stood up a lovely first-time cross for Diaz. His scissor kick flew wide but the Liverpool attempts are stacking up now.

05:09 PM BST

39 minutes: Liverpool 1 Spurs 0

Spurs may have made a positive start, but they have carried next to no attacking threat for the last 20 or 25 minutes. They are struggling to keep Liverpool pushed back, and cannot prevent chances when defending close to their box. It is not a good combination.

That was a little better from them after Porro robbed Robertson, but Son could not bring the ball down for a shot.

05:07 PM BST

36 minutes: Liverpool 1 Spurs 0

Romero well-positioned in the box to get a header on Salah’s cross, before Robertson fizzes a follow up shot across goal. There was a VAR check for a penalty, but the deflection came off Romero’s head.

Spurs are genuinely terrible defensively. Liverpool currently look like the side with more to play for.

05:04 PM BST

33 minutes: Liverpool 1 Spurs 0

Spurs caught on the ball in their own half, but Romero did very well to deal with a bouncing Alexander-Arnold cross, chesting it back to his goalkeeper. Then Liverpool force another high turnover, and Gakpo goes down in the penalty area looking for a penalty...but nothing doing. Spurs then have a counter-attacking with Son but it breaks down and Liverpool break on them, and Emerson Royal did enough to put Salah off. Spurs hanging by a thread at the back.

05:00 PM BST

31 minutes: Liverpool 1 Spurs 0

Spurs dealt with the initial corner, but one the second phase Alexander-Arnold whipped in a dangerous cross which Van de Ven put behind. Lovely take from Elliott in the box, but he flag goes up for offside. Romero then hammers a pass straight through for a Liverpool goal kick.

04:59 PM BST

29 minutes: Liverpool 1 Spurs 0

Liverpool know Spurs are struggling defensively on their left flank. Alexander-Arnold found space,  but his touch let him down. Liverpool are starting their moves over on the left and then switching play to Royal’s flank. Liverpool have a corner. Spurs need to ride this out.

04:58 PM BST

27 minutes: Liverpool 1 Spurs 0

Liverpool probing again, but the flag goes up for offside against Gakpo. Some of Tottenham’s early zest and speed of ball movement has faded in the last few minutes. Liverpool getting to them higher up the pitch.

04:53 PM BST

23 minutes: Liverpool 1 Spurs 0

Vicario smothers at the feet of Diaz after the ball broke back to him in the penalty area, but everything continues to look chaotic in the Spurs penalty area.

Liverpool have a corner, which has been a signal for Spurs fans to watch through their fingers of late. The ball flicks off Romero’s head and they will have to defend another from the opposite side.

Swung in by Robertson, but Vicario does well to come through the crowd and catch.

04:50 PM BST

19 minutes: Liverpool 1 Spurs 0

Spurs will keep on trying to press and pass their way back into the game, but Diaz and Salah will be licking their chops at the chance to run into the space down the sides of the two centre-backs. There are surely more goals to come in this game.

04:48 PM BST

GOOOALLL! Salah shuts out the noise to put Liverpool in front

Spurs have played well with the ball, but their defensive vulnerability has reared its head again. Gakpo received the ball on the left and cut inside, clipping an inswinging cross to the back post. Salah kept himself onside and Emerson’s body shape was closed, and the Liverpool forward’s header was too strong for Vicario. Should the goalkeeper have done better after getting a hand to it.

So many theories about Salah’s form recently. On the evidence of the first 16 minutes, he just needed a week off. Emerson Royal could be in for a torrid afternoon. The Egyptian is in the mood.

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool scores his team's first goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur
Mohamed Salah of Liverpool scores his team's first goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur

04:46 PM BST

16 minutes: Liverpool 0 Spurs 0

Spurs’ numbers centrally help them regain possession high up, and they find Johnson free on the left. His cross flew across with area with Son and Kulusevski nowhere near it.

04:44 PM BST

14 minutes: Liverpool 0 Spurs 0

Tottenham living dangerously again, although Kulusevski was unfortunate not to be given a foul in the build up to a Liverpool corner. From the set-piece, the ball looped up for Salah who was free at the back post and his volley hit the foot of the post. The flag was up for offside in any case.

04:42 PM BST

11 minutes: Liverpool 0 Spurs 0

Bissouma with a loose ball after winning the ball in a promising position with Son ahead of him. As expected, an open feel to the contest so far. Chris’s observation from Anfield sums up where Spurs are at this stage in their development:

Spurs have started well on the ball, but not so good whenever they lose it. Salah is looking sharper than in the last few weeks.

Tottenham Hotspur manager Ange Postecoglou during the Premier League match at Anfield
Tottenham Hotspur manager Ange Postecoglou during the Premier League match at Anfield

04:39 PM BST

8 minutes: Liverpool 0 Spurs 0

Tottenham seeing most of the ball so far, which few teams do at Anfield. Liverpool possibly a little more circumspect in their defensive shape, sitting a little deeper and narrow.

But then Liverpool have a flurry of chances! A Salah cross deflected on to the crossbar, before Elliott robbed Sarr and fed Salah. The Liverpool took on a low shot which was saved by the leg of Vicario, before Elliott’s rebound was stopped on the line by Romero.

The Spurs defender did well not to handball that. Very good defending.

Tottenham's goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario, left, blocks a shot on goal by Liverpool's Mohamed Salah
Tottenham's goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario, left, blocks a shot on goal by Liverpool's Mohamed Salah

04:35 PM BST

5 minutes: Liverpool 0 Spurs 0

Spurs eager to press Liverpool high and test their touch and nerve in the early minutes. Emerson Royal tidies up a long ball well, before Robertson crosses straight at Vicario. You could anticipate Liverpool targeting Spurs’ left-back zone with passes towards Salah.

04:33 PM BST

3 minutes: Liverpool 0 Spurs 0

Quite a confident start from Spurs, moving the ball neatly in small triangles. They have a corner, Postecoglou was shouting at this players to stop playing backwards at Chelsea, so they have that message ringing in their ears. Liverpool deal with the corner, but then Alexander-Arnold fouls Son in a crossing position. Can Spurs profit from a set-piece instead of shipping a goal from one? Not on this occasion. Bissouma shoots wildly over.

04:30 PM BST


Tottenham get the game started.

04:28 PM BST

The players are out at Anfield

Postecoglou almost walked out arm in arm with Klopp, all very friendly. Nobody tell Roy Keane in the studio. Some extra volume behind YNWA from the Anfield crowd...they’ll get just one more chance to sing it before a home game managed by Klopp.

Liverpool fans inside the stadium before the match
Liverpool fans inside the stadium before the match

04:26 PM BST

A reminder of Tottenham’s situation

Villa’s defeat at Brighton means they are seven points off the Champions League places with two games in hand. Unfortunately, those games are this one at Anfield and Man City at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

But...if* Spurs could squeak a win today, they play Burnley next weekend while Villa host Liverpool. Those results could well put Champions League qualification in their hands.

*it is a big if. But Spurs have the pace to cause Liverpool problems.

04:19 PM BST

Postecoglou on Spurs and beefing up his midfield

This is the most challenging part of the season for us and you’ve got to be up for it. In 12 months time it could be a different challenge, and we’ll need to be up for that.

It’s massive, particularly in the context of Liverpool’s season, they need to win to keep their title

We’re going to need some legs today and it was a short turnaround. I’m sure there’s going to be some energy and intensity in the early parts of the game.

04:12 PM BST

Klopp speaking

I know you need a reason or a spark for giving your absolute all, so we try to do that. We trained intensely this week, how we should. Tricky opponent with a specific way to play. You cannot turn up against Tottenham and say ‘let’s have a look’. They will go through you and cause massive problems.

[On Salah starting] There was no doubt that he was going to start today.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp watches players warm up
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp watches players warm up

04:03 PM BST

The inner sanctum

03:53 PM BST

Salah with a point to prove?

Mohamed Salah’s inclusion in Liverpool’s starting line-up will surprise no-one. Klopp’s contention his touchline spat was a ‘non-story’ was slightly disingenuous. The thousands of column inches since disprove that.

Nevertheless, it’s a fair assumption the reason the Egyptian was in such a foul mood at West Ham was because he was a substitute. After a week off, a refreshed world-class striker with a point to prove is usually bad news for the opposition.

03:51 PM BST

Dip in expectations

This would have been billed as the game of vengeance three weeks, a title-chasing Liverpool side seeking to right the wrongs of that strange afternoon in October when a legitimate Luis Diaz goal was chalked off, Spurs went on to win 2-1 with a last-minute own goal from Joel Matip, and while Jurgen Klopp was incredulous, the rest of the Premier League shrugged its shoulders and echoed ‘Big Ange’s’ view that ‘these things happen, mate’.

Although the memories linger, there is unlikely to be much hostility inside Anfield now given how little is at stake for the hosts the mathematical possibility of a Liverpool title convincing no-one it is a realistic proposition.

“We can at least play some better football,” is Klopp’s moderate expectation for his penultimate home game.

Postecoglou may give the same speech after a wretched dip in form.

Spurs can still qualify for the Champions League. Their staff were avidly watching the Brighton vs Villa game in the Anfield press room ahead of kick-off. Given recent form, they may also need to watch their backs to ensure they do not end up in the Conference League.

At the very least, if both teams can get through the afternoon without the words ‘good process’ being uttered by incompetent VAR officials, it will be a blessed relief to everyone.

03:44 PM BST

Here are those teams in black and white

LIVERPOOL XI TO FACE TOTTENHAM: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Quansah, van Dijk, Robertson, Elliott, Endo, Mac Allister, Salah, Gakpo, Diaz. Subs: Gomez, Konate, Szoboszlai, Nunez, Jones, Gravenberch, Bajcetic, Kelleher, Bradley.

The big news is that Mohamed Salah returns to the Liverpool starting XI after his touchline spat with Jurgen Klopp last week. Virgil van Dijk was an injury worry but he starts with Ryan Gravenberch dropping to the bench.

Salah is back in Klopp's good books - Getty Images/Dave Howarth

TOTTENHAM XI TO FACE LIVERPOOL: Vicario, Porro, Romero, van de Ven, Emerson, Bissouma, Sarr, Bentancur, Kulusevski, Son, Johnson. Subs: Skipp, Hojbjerg, Dragusin, Richarlison, Maddison, Gil Salvatierra, Lo Celso, Austin, Moore.

There is just one change for the visitors, with Richarlison dropped and Rodrigo Bentancur coming back into the starting XI.

No room for Richarlison in the starting XI today
No room for Richarlison in the starting XI today - Getty Images/Ryan Pierse

03:33 PM BST

Here’s the Tottenham XI

03:32 PM BST

Here’s the Liverpool XI

03:22 PM BST

Revenge and entertainment in the air at Anfield

Liverpool and Tottenham’s seasons have nose-dived at just the wrong time, but a game between two cavalier sides with their share of defensive problems promises entertainment.

The two teams produced a thrilling 4-3 game at Anfield last year, and revenge is in the air for Liverpool who were wrongly denied a Luis Diaz goal at Spurs earlier this season in a calamitous VAR debacle.

The title has now gone after defeats to Crystal Palace and Everton as well as a draw at West Ham, but Liverpool surely cannot let Jurgen Klopp depart on the back of further disappointment. This is his penultimate home game in charge before Wolves on the final day.

Tottenham’s hopes of a top-four finish have also receded following a brutal week which saw them lose derbies against Arsenal and Chelsea. Spurs were certainly in the game against Arsenal, but their limp display at Chelsea had Ange Postecoglou raging on the touchline. There has been enough to encourage Spurs fans in Postecoglou’s first season, but his pre-match words suggest thoughts are already turning to his second campaign.

Postecoglou said: “Will we be ready in 12 months’ time? That’s the challenge I’ve got.

“What I keep trying to emphasise is that for a club like this, wherever you think you are in your rebuilding cycle, you have to try and win something every year. That’s part of the responsibility.

“I can’t sit here and say we’re going to finish fourth, fifth, sixth and then in the third or fourth year we’re going to win something. I’m not built that way.

“I want to win things all the time. We start next year trying to have success, but the underlying thing is growth. We’ve got to have growth.

“Belief is the word. I want people to believe we can be successful.”

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