THE streets of London have never been paved with gold.
But if Liverpool are to end their season with a silver Prem shine, they may have to stop suffering the death penalty that has cost them so far.
Jurgen Klopp’s men are on Manchester City’s heels as they head to the weekend before Christmas.
Still, the five points they’ve already lost to Brentford and West Ham on their first two visits to London mean it’s even more imperative that they break that duck at Spurs on Sunday.
Tottenham have been on Prem’s cold turkey during this fortnight of Covid-related forced limbo, with three straight games called off after their trip to Burnley fell victim to snow.
In between, there were back-to-back wins over Brentford and Norwich, to put them back on track for a top-four finish.
But Antonio Conte and his team know that bringing down the farce of Klopp’s Christmas week preparations would be the first real sign that the rooster is crowing under the Italian.
Even without the unexpected break – the cancellation of Thursday’s trip to Leicester will at least have given the recovering players extra training time – Liverpool would have been the big favorite.
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Since Harry Kane’s time-out penalties equalized at Anfield in 2018, Liverpool have won the last seven encounters, including the Champions League final.
Last season summed up a familiar story of last-minute winners in Merseyside and more comfortable N17 wins, with Roberto Firmino’s header hammering Jose Mourinho’s men in the first meeting.
Indeed, over the months, the gap between the two clubs has widened, Liverpool proving to be part – if not the very top – of the European elite, with Spurs returning to their racing status as well.
All Spurs fans have been waiting, all season, for Kane to start shooting, while Mo Salah, it seems, could score even if he didn’t try.
But Klopp, for all his faith in his troops, also knows their ranks are expected to be seriously depleted next month, for up to six weeks.
BENEFITS AND AFCONS
The demands of the Africa Cup of Nations, which are expected to deprive him of Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita – though still not, it seems, Joel Matip – will be an important part of the overall story. of the prem.
It also puts additional pressure on Liverpool not to drop any more points before bidding farewell to their departing stars.
And it’s London that holds the key with four more matches in the capital to come.
Liverpool 2022 begins at Stamford Bridge, a critical clash with Chelsea, as they enter the two-week break at the end of January at Crystal Palace and are set to end in February at Arsenal – although it is the weekend of the final of the Carabao Cup.
Keep wasting points on London like they have so far, and Liverpool will surely pay the price for the title.
As for Spurs, getting anything out of Sunday’s game – difficult under any circumstances but especially since they risk being undercooked – would be a huge boost for Project Conte.
The Italian wants to change the culture, mindset and approach of the club, almost as much as he feels the need to overhaul his squad.
And coming away from Sunday’s game, even with a point, would signal a real change, especially if Kane can rediscover his shooting shoes.
The odds, however, are against that happening.
Klopp needs to make sure the bookies are right.
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