Much has been written and said about Liverpool’s remarkable undefeated streak in the Premier League, but after passing the year-mark without a loss in the top-flight, will that run come to an end this weekend?
Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur are the next obstacle facing Jurgen Klopp’s side as they appear to close in on a first domestic title in three decades.
Can Spurs halt the Merseysiders’ run, or are they destined to be just another victim?
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This is the first time Mourinho has gone toe-to-toe with Jurgen Klopp since his final match as Manchester United boss, midway through last season, when he was humbled by the German coach.
It was ultimately that performance which brought the curtain down on the Portuguese coach’s tenure at Old Trafford and prompted United to turn to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Mourinho now has the opportunity to redeem his reputation in North London, although after a bright start—including that vibrant victory over West Ham United in his opener—the Lilywhites’ form has tailed off.
The festive period was tricky, and not least because of injuries to Harry Kane and Moussa Sissoko, with the club yet to truly vindicate the decision to part ways with Mauricio Pochettino.
While the Argentine manager oversaw the heavy thumping by Bayern Munich in October, Spurs fans may argue the recent defeat by Southampton or the loss against Chelsea before Christmas were even more damaging.
Spurs’ inconsistencies and frailties come in sharp contrast to Liverpool’s rampant form, they’ve won 19 of their 20 matches, and will believe top-flight ‘invincibility’ – achieved only by two clubs in the history of the English game – is a realistic target.
There are plenty of subplots here; the two clubs of course met in last year’s Champions League final, although only one of the pair have looked even close to be worthy of the billing of European finalists since!
As well as the absences of Kane and Sissoko, Spurs are missing long-term injury absentee Hugo Lloris, while Ben Davies and Tanguy Ndombele are also out.
Harry Winks and Danny Rose are also, meaning Mourinho might plump for Jan Vertonghen or Ryan Sessegnon at left-back.
How would either man fare against Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold?
The champions-elect are missing Fabinho, James Milner and Naby Keita due to injury, while there are doubts around the availability of Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren and Xherdan Shaqiri.
Sadio Mane will return in time to start his first game as the African Footballer of the Year, and it will be fascinating to see how Mourinho attempts to neutralise the Merseysiders’ famous front three.
Watch the clash on SS3 at 19:30 Central African Time on Saturday, January 11.
On Sunday, attention turns to South Africa, where Kaizer Chiefs host Cape Town City as they look to take another step towards the Absa Premiership title.
Amakhosi extended their lead at the top of the table on Wednesday with a 3-0 thrashing of Highlands Park at FNB Stadium.
Chiefs took control inside the first half-hour when Eric Mathoho gave them the lead, although they had to wait until after the break to add a second, with Leonardo Castro adding his first of two goals during a rampant second half.
By contrast, City served notice both of their attacking quality, but also their vulnerability at the back, as they were held 2-2 at home by AmaZulu FC.
The hosts took at a 2-0 lead at the Cape Town Stadium, following goals from Bradley Ralani and Ronald Putsche, but they weren’t able to kill off the contest.
Bonginkosi Ntuli scored twice as AmaZulu tore back into the game, and in the latter stages, it was the visitors who looked closer to taking all three points.
The win comes at a cost for Chiefs, who lost Lazarous Kambole to injury after 22 minutes, although they will take encouragement from the performance of Daniel Akpeyi, who was tested by Tendai Ndoro and Mothobi Mvala.
Will Chiefs move even further ahead when they host Cape Town on Sunday? The clash is available at 15:30 CAT in South Africa (on SS4) and in the Rest of Africa (on SS9).
Also this weekend, SuperSport is delighted to bring you two blockbusters from Serie A, with two compelling fixtures.
On Saturday, Lazio and Napoli collide at 19:00 CAT, where something has to give before AS Roma and Juventus meet in the match of the weekend on Sunday at 21:45 CAT.
Lazio have a poor recent record against the Partenopei, having lost their last five top-flight meetings against the Naples giants—conceding 15 goals during that time. It’s their worst record against a single opponent over five matches.
Similarly, the capital club has lost their last six home games against Napoli, their longest streak of consecutive losses against a single opposition at their home ground.
However, this Lazio side is in fine form.
They’ve won their last nine consecutive matches in the top-flight, equalling a club record, but can they extend it to 10 games against this troubled Napoli side?
The Partenopei are in poor form themselves, winning just one of their last 10 in the league, and head into this one 15 points behind their opponents.
On Sunday, Juve may find themselves under pressure away at Roma if league leaders Internazionale beat Atalanta at home on Saturday.
The reigning champions were defeated by Roma in their last meeting between the two sides, but they haven’t defeated the Old Lady in consecutive league games since 1995.
Worryingly for the capital club, Juventus are in fine form away from home, having won three of their last four matches in the top-flight—as many as in their previous nine—and having scored in 17 of their 18 games this term, goals should be expected.
Saturday 11 January
Tottenham vs Liverpool SS3 Kickoff at 19:30 (CAT)
Saturday 11 January
Lazio vs Napoli SS9 (SA) & SS8 (ROA) Kickoff at 19:00 (CAT)
Sunday 12 January
Kaizer Chiefs vs Cape Town City SS4 (SA) & SS9 (ROA) Kickoff at 15:30 (CAT)
Sunday 12 January
Roma vs Juventus SS9 (SA) & SS8 (ROA) Kickoff at 21:45 (CAT)