The trip from Liverpool to Tottenham is a story of two teams heading in different directions
London, January 10 (AFP) Seven months after the Champions League final last season, Liverpool and Tottenham close the horns once again on Saturday when two clubs are heading in very different directions.
The victory in Madrid last June has caused Liverpool to reach even greater heights. Jurgen Klopp can't be wrong since his team travels to London 13 clear points at the top of the Premier League with a game in hand and apparently crossing into a first league title in 30 years.
Tottenham, on the other hand, is under a new administration with José Mourinho replacing Mauricio Pochettino.
The Argentine's achievements in the transformation of Tottenham's fortune in the first five years of his time in charge did not save him the sack after a three-win streak in the first 12 games of the Premier League season.
Mourinho's appointment provided a short-term rebound as Spurs won four of his first five games in charge, although against a limited opposition in West Ham, Olympiakos, Bournemouth and Burnley.
But if the president of Tottenham, Daniel Levy, believed that Pochettino was the problem, the last few weeks have exposed the much deeper discomfort that Mourinho has the task of turning around.
The Spurs have risen from 14th to sixth since the Portuguese took over in mid-November, but remain six points out of the first four and have won only twice in their last seven games in all competitions.
In stark contrast to Mourinho's most successful spells in Porto, Inter Milan and Chelsea, he has not been able to organize Tottenham into a team that is at least difficult to overcome.
The Spurs have kept a single clean sheet in their 12 games in charge, conceding more goals at that time than any other Premier League team in all competitions.
Mourinho now has trouble solving at both ends of the field with the news that Harry Kane will miss most of the rest of the season after undergoing surgery for a hamstring injury.
Kane joins a growing list of injuries with influential midfielder Moussa Sissoko also until April, club captain Hugo Lloris expected to be set aside for another month due to a dislocated elbow suffered in October, while Ben Davies, Danny Rose and Tanguy Ndombele could also miss Liverpool visit.
After years of beating the odds under Pochettino with fewer resources than their rivals, the stress and tensions in the Spurs squad have been exposed in the last six months.
The concern for Tottenham is that his fall from grace may not be over yet. Christian Eriksen seems to be ready to leave the club on a free transfer, if not this month with a reduced price agreement.
Jan Vertonghen is also without a contract at the end of the season and, according to reports, Levy told Mourinho when he took the job that he would not have funds to spend in the January window.
Just a few months after being in a game of winning the Champions League for the first time in club history, just qualifying for the next season now represents success.
Liverpool, on the other hand, seems ready for a historic season. After also claiming the UEFA Super Cup and the Club World Cup since they lifted their sixth European Cup, the only question seems to be about how many more trophies they will raise by the end of the season.
Even Klopp's commitment to deploy a team largely made up of young players paid off last weekend in a victory in the Merseyside derby over Everton in the FA Cup to keep alive the possibility of winning five trophies in the same season.
The passion and ambition of these players is from another planet, Klopp's assistant Pep Lijnders told The Athletic. Winning something big puts more conviction, more confidence in everything; Unconsciously you feel stronger. There is a real hunger to fight for more prizes. (AFP) APA APA