London: Liverpool can prove they are real title contenders away to Tottenham on Saturday in their first big game of the season.
Jurgen Klopp’s side are currently top of the league level with Chelsea and Watford on 12 points from four games, but the Reds lead on goal difference after wins over West Ham United, Crystal Palace, Brighton & Hove Albion and Leicester City.
With the way the Anfield side reached the Champions League final last season, many are now expecting them to give Manchester City a run for their money, especially after spending confidently over the summer.
Despite a positive start against average opposition however, they haven’t proven anything yet, and Spurs will be their first proper test against a top four side.
As we saw last season, Liverpool lost 4-1 away to Tottenham in late October before embarking on a 14 game unbeaten run over the winter. This was ended with a 1-0 defeat away to Swansea in January, typifying a campaign that was marred by inconsistency.
If they can iron out needless draws and silly defeats while deploying the same impressive attacking football, they could well challenge, especially with Manchester City having already dropped points away to Wolves.
Tottenham will be a barometer for that contention, and given that Spurs are looking to make up for lost ground after their defeat away to Watford last week, it could well be a classic.
All of the five games Liverpool lost last season were away from home and with the exception of Swansea, they were against traditional top four sides like City, Spurs, Manchester United and Chelsea. So, if Liverpool could win this, it would be huge for confidence going forward, particularly with a trip away to Chelsea coming up at the end of the month.
Ironically it is Watford — the only club other than Liverpool and Chelsea to have enjoyed a 100 per cent start this season — who could now throw another the spanner in the works in Saturday’s other big game at home to Manchester United.
Jose Mourinho’s United earned a brief reprieve away to Burnley last week after back-to-back losses to Brighton and Spurs, but now the Portuguese could find himself back under pressure against the high-flying Hornets.
Defeat for United will extend Watford’s rise and surely accelerate Mourinho’s exit from Old Trafford, whereas another win would continue to plaster over the cracks and delay the inevitable.
A perceived easier run against Wolves, West Ham and Newcastle might take Mourinho into mid October, but it is an away trip to Chelsea after this that could well spell curtains for him.
In Saturday’s other games City and Chelsea are both at home to Fulham and Cardiff, while Arsenal are away to Newcastle.