In Review

Liverpool vs Spurs: Reds face top-four battle at Anfield

League leaders Chelsea could be the big winners as their rivals pick each other off in the battle for Europe

Chelsea could take another huge step towards the Premier League title before their game against Burnley even kicks off on Sunday.

In their five Premier League games since the start of the year, the Blues have faced Spurs, Liverpool and Arsenal and have emerged with a nine-point lead at the top of the table.

They won't face a top-seven rival again until April, when they meet Man City, but during that time, each of the teams closest to them will play at least one match against a direct rival.

Provided Antonio Conte maintains his team's current standards, Chelsea can sit back and watch their competitors kill each other off.

First up in that sequence of matches is the clash between Liverpool and Spurs at Anfield on Saturday evening, which could leave the Blues 12 points clear at the top of the table if the home side win.

Liverpool, though, have endured a nightmare start to 2017, managing only one win in ten games. They have been knocked out of two cup competitions and have taken three points from a possible 15 in the league.

"For the first time under Jurgen Klopp the goals aren't flowing, and the usually effervescent Liverpool boss seemed flat following last week's defeat at Hull," says Guy Mowbray of the BBC. "If he needs a lift then heaven help the rest of us.

"Spurs have a rotten Premier League record at Anfield, but will surely travel with only winning in mind this time."

There could be changes within the Liverpool ranks and goalkeeper Simon Mignolet "is not the only Liverpool player uncertain to keep his place following the anaemic display at Hull", says Andy Hunter of The Guardian.

The presence of Sadio Mane, who missed most of January because of the Africa Cup of Nations, could add some verve to the Liverpool attack.

"Spurs have won just once at Anfield in the league since 1993, and must beat the Reds for the first time since 2012 to keep the pressure on Antonio Conte's league leaders," says the London Evening Standard, although it warns manager Mauricio Pochettino will be without defenders Danny Rose and Jan Vertonghen.

The pressure will be on the visitors - and not just because of the title, says Paul Merson of Sky Sports.

"A Tottenham defeat would more or less hand the title to Chelsea but could put Spurs' own [top four] aspirations at risk," he says. "If they lose and the other teams win, all of a sudden they're in a battle for the top four. It can change that quickly."

He believes Spurs will emerge victorious, but Mark Lawrenson of the BBC predicts a draw, which would benefit no-one but Chelsea.

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