Ahead of their Premier League clash, Spurs and Liverpool UAE-based fans give their verdict on the game.
To gain an insight into the mindset of the fans we asked UAE fans to share with us their predictions, likely line-ups and players to watch.
Do you agree with their predictions or have they missed the mark? And what do YOU think the outcome of the game will be?
Raad Jaboori, SPURS SUPPORTERS CLUB
There is always a great deal of expectation prior to a Spurs-Liverpool fixture, with both teams historically looking to play attractive, attacking football. This game should prove to be another classic with a wealth of creative players on both sides looking to impose themselves and make an impression.
It’s still too early in the season to conclusively tell how any team is going to get on, but Spurs have done well with four points out of six so far. We’ve played some good football but haven’t quite found the same rhythm we had in the middle of last season when we played some of the best football in the Premier League.
Liverpool are also still finding their feet after some new additions to their squad over the summer. For Spurs, Hugo Lloris (injury) and Moussa Dembele (suspension) are out. The rest of the squad is all available.
Football is always full of surprises and form does not always dictate the result. Fans and neutrals alike should look forward to an entertaining and exciting encounter.
PREDICTION: A 2-1 success for Spurs.
LIKELY XI: Lloris; Rose, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Walker; Dier, Alli, Wanyama; Janssen, Lamela; Kane.
TOTTENHAM PLAYER TO WATCH: Harry Kane – Big games call for big players to deliver. Harry Kane has already proved over the previous two seasons that he’s the man for the major occasions.
LIVERPOOL PLAYER TO FEAR: Philippe Coutinho – Immensely talented and possesses the knack for scoring important goals.
FAVOURITE SPURS-LIVERPOOL MOMENT: The last minute goal by Jurgen Klinsmann at Anfield in a 2-1 FA cup quarter final victory in 1995.
WHERE TO WATCH: The UAE Spurs’ home from home is the Locker Room Bar & Lounge at the Golden Tulip in Al Barsha.
Atul Nara, DUBAI REDS
New Season, new players, but the same old problems. Liverpool win the big games but are found missing for games against lowly opposition. We were amazing at times in attack against Arsenal but then almost threw it away with costly defending. Then, when expectations were high, the wheels came off against Burnley. We showed that we had no plan B if teams sit back against us and despite having 80% possession and 26 shots, we didn’t score and lost 2-0.
Mauricio Pochettino has built a wonderful squad at Spurs, who got so close last season but eventually ran out of steam in the title race. The players he has assembled are capable of putting any team away on their good day.
This will be a tight affair and the opening goal is going to be critical. If this fixture follows its history then we are in for goals, with 136 from previous encounters the third highest return in Premier League history.
Last season, both games ended in draws but the three previous games prior to last season were action-packed, with Liverpool taking wins in games that shipped 12 goals. In fact, Spurs have not tasted victory against Liverpool in their last seven league outings, something we hope continues on Saturday.
Klopp: "It's an exciting game [against Spurs]. I've seen a lot of good signs from us. I'm optimistic for the season. pic.twitter.com/Np5LC18V4m— Liverpool FC (@LFC) August 25, 2016
PREDICTION: It’ll be close but Liverpool edge it 3 – 2.
LIKELY LIVERPOOL XI: Mignoelt; Clyne, Lovren, Matip, Milner; Wijnaldum, Lallana, Henderson; Mane, Coutinho; Firminho
LIVERPOOL PLAYER TO WATCH: Sadio Mane – The Senegalese star adds something this Liverpool side has been missing and is a player who makes things happen. His ability to turn at frightening pace is going to have defenders keeping a watchful eye on him. Klopp has rightfully taken the pressure off him, telling fans not to get carried away, but Pool fans are always looking for the “next Suarez” or “another Torres” and in Mane we may well have that.
SPURS PLAYER TO FEAR: Harry Kane – It’s been a slow start to the season for the Spurs hitman and August in the league is not a particularly good month for him, having never bagged an EPL goal in August. But I think his season is going to kick-off in style this weekend and he will take advantage of Liverpool’s lackluster defending.
WHERE TO WATCH: Liverpool fans can join the Reds at Goodfellas Bar at the Ramee Rose Hotel, TECOM. All are welcome, as are new members of the supporters club.
It’s safe to say that Jose Mourinho has gotten off to a flyer as Manchester United boss. From stellar signings to winning all three of his opening competitive fixtures – and a little piece of Community Shield silverware as well – the Old Trafford faithful could hardly have hoped for much more.
He even seems to have put prejudices aside. Juan Mata was expected to be the first out the door upon his arrival, considering his unceremonious sale from Chelsea when Mourinho took over at the Bridge for a second spell. But the Spaniard has started the first two Premier League games and seems like he will continue to feature in the manager’s plans.
Marouane Fellaini was also thought not to fit the Portuguese’s blueprint but has been a different player under the new management, breaking up play in the middle of the park and being rather effective with his modest array of passes.
However, if there’s but one blemish on Mourinho’s otherwise rosy beginning to life in the red half of Manchester, it’s his treatment of Bastian Schweinsteiger.
The German World Cup winner and Bayern Munich legend has been cast aside and made to train with the reserves. Granted, the midfielder has hardly made a contribution since his arrival last year, but the general consensus is that his reputation commands a certain level of respect.
Mourinho is nothing if not ruthless though and has been unapologetic. Schweinsteiger took to social media on Wednesday afternoon to clear the air, most notably declaring that United will be his “last club in Europe”.
Many have cited Italy as a possible destination for the shunned playmaker but the announcement made on his Facebook page takes that option off the table.
So if not Europe, where would a player of such quality find a new place to call home? Here’s a look at five options for Schweinsteiger.
MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER
Following his move to Manchester United last year, Franz Beckenbauer was not convinced by Schweinsteiger’s ability to thrive in the Premier League and stated the MLS would’ve been a better option.
“I find it very brave to make a move like this at his age,” Beckenbauer was quoted as saying. “A move to MLS would have made more sense.”
As it turns out, the German great may have been right. The Premier League has hardly caught a glimpse of the Schweinsteiger that led his club and country to several trophies over the years.
The MLS on the other hand has proved to be a worthy destination for several stars from David Beckham to Thierry Henry. The league is desperate to prove that it’s not just a retirement home for washed up stars and the arrival of the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard was a step in the right direction.
While Schweinsteiger didn’t cut it at United, he’s still seen as more than capable of thriving elsewhere under the right circumstances and would have the opportunity in America to prove that he’s still got it.
Pirlo, Lampard and Gerrard. Unreal. pic.twitter.com/tBdANH3yuJ— Dave O’Connell (@DaveOCKOP) August 20, 2016
Qatari side Al Sadd pulled off their finest coup when they managed to sign Xavi Hernandez from Barcelona last year. The Spaniard’s time at Camp Nou was approaching an end and rather than sit on the sidelines, he chose to head to the Qatar Stars League.
The midfielder took over from Raul as the poster boy for Qatar’s most successful club, and has certainly been pulling his weight since arriving in the Gulf. Schweinsteiger could certainly make a similar contribution to a club in the region.
CHINESE SUPER LEAGUE
Graziano Pelle had a few bright moments during Euro 2016 and before you knew it, he was on his way to China having agreed a deal that would see him earn £270,000 as week. Nowhere else would the former Southampton striker have managed to procure a deal for even half as much.
Not that he needs it, but if a quick pay-day is what Schweinsteiger fancies before he checks out then the crazy amounts of money being thrown around in the CSL makes it an ideal destination.
However, even with all the money in the world, a move to China is a stretch for the German, who sued a toy manufacturer there last year for selling a Nazi action figure that looked like him and even carried his name. Sorry, China – you may have blown this one.
Throwback to Schweinsteiger suing a Chinese doll company over a lookalike nazi doll..— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) August 5, 2016
Said it was nothing like him🙈 pic.twitter.com/5gtT7dKZr0
With 24 major trophies to his name, including an FA Cup triumph with United, it wouldn’t be the worst thing to walk away from the game with his head held high.
The past year hasn’t gone the way he hoped but in the grand scale of things, it’s a blip in an otherwise glittering career. He could even turn to management. Who wouldn’t fancy him locking horns with Mourinho in the dugout?
STAY AT UNITED
Staying put would probably be the boldest decision he could make. He has every right to stay and fight for a place. A terrible bout of injuries and who knows, Mourinho may be tempted to look his way. There’s still plenty Schweinsteiger can offer on and off the pitch. If Mata can work his way back into Mourinho’s plans, then why not him too?
In many ways, that could be one of Schweinsteiger’s finest accomplishments – to be defiant and prove his worth after being told that his number is up. Stranger things have happened.
A new Premier League season has arrived and it looks as though some new rules are in place. Firstly, as per Pep Guardiola’s debut with Manchester City, full-backs are now central midfielders. Secondly, as per Liverpool’s 4-3 win over Arsenal, defending is now somewhat of a faux pas. Thirdly, if you’re going to win this league, then you might well have to be quite a good loser.
The last of these rules probably requires the most explaining, but a more detailed look at the first round of games does much of the work. Guardiola’s City edged past Sunderland via an own goal and a penalty, Antonio Conte’s Chelsea edged past West Ham via a penalty and a late shot from 25 yards, Arsenal lost 4-3 at home, Tottenham drew 1-1 to Everton, and only Jose Mourinho’s United won relatively comfortably – against Bournemouth.
The theme here is that big teams were only just nudging past notionally smaller opponents and beneath the results the signs were that in this new Premier League season any win looks set to be a good win, even for those at the top. That means losses are more likely, too.
There’s a clear reason behind this new difficulty level – a historically large television deal has allowed the Premier League to leverage an unbeatable transfer market position over the rest of the world, and this in turn has meant that clubs as far down as Swansea City have been able to sign World Cup winners, or that clubs like Crystal Palace can compete with Real Madrid for the signing of senior France internationals.
But the effect this will all have on the title race seems to have been overlooked.
No Premier League title winner has ever lost more than seven games (Blackburn Rovers managed that total in a 22-team league in 1994-95), but that mark could well be pushed for the first time in more than a decade this season – if the smaller clubs are to be more of a threat.
If that is the case then a corresponding change in mentality could be required at the top of the league. If losing becomes more of an inevitability, then being good at losing becomes a more important characteristic to look for in a title winner.
What would this mean? Well, basically, the most successful team will likely be the one who recovers best from those defeats and doesn’t let them get in their way. In short, the Premier League title race could be about to become a battle of who accepts defeat better than anyone else.
Of course this is, really, only an extension of what we’ve seen before; Premier League champions have almost always lost the odd game, but losing will now become much more ‘normal’ than it has been. Leicester City’s three defeats last season will likely be a far smoother ride than anything Manchester City or United go through if they’re to win the title this time around – and that could easily not suit them, or their rivals.
For proof of how more losing could mix things up, look at the various managers’ experience with defeat so far.
City’s Guardiola is used winning leagues by a mile not a millimetre. His career win rate is a ludicrous 74.4% and his teams average over 94 points in the league, which makes his ability to deal with defeat an almost entirely known unknown. Similarly, Chelsea’s Antonio Conte won three titles in a row at his last club, Juventus, breaking points records by averaging 2.25 points per game and going one full league season unbeaten.
Elsewhere, United’s Mourinho has led teams to catastrophic implosion in three seasons where he hasn’t immediately strung together a long run of wins (at Chelsea twice in 2007 and 2013, and at Real Madrid once in 2013) – and both Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp and Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino have stepped through mini-versions of the same phenomenon; the former with Borussia Dortmund in his final season there and the latter’s 2015-16 with Tottenham, in which a disappointing draw to West Bromwich Albion started a drift that led to no wins in the final five games.
The broad pattern is pretty clear. Either we don’t really know how these managers react to bad results, or we know they’ve some history of reacting badly. In the likely top six clubs there’s only one exception to this, in the unlikely form of Arsenal and Arsene Wenger.
No other notional contender is as used to, or as successful at, recovering from defeats as Arsenal under late-era Wenger because, together, they have seemed to be perpetually recovering from some terrible disaster or other at every point over the past 12 years. Horrific Champions League exits and big Premier League defeats have almost destroyed them on dozens of occasions, but they’ve somehow always gone on to avoid the kind of catastrophic implosions Mourinho, Klopp or Pochettino have endured. They’ve always made fourth place or better.
Now, obviously, this doesn’t mean that Arsenal will definitely win the Premier League this season – they have other problems, as the 4-3 loss to Liverpool showed succinctly enough – but they do have an interesting edge in knowing that they can lose and still come back – and anyone that can lose better than them would surely be doing well.
Ultimately under these terms, in a league where the winner might lose more than five times, contested at the top end by six or seven managers who between them have never won a league while carrying that many defeats (five for Klopp at Dortmund and Conte at Juventus the best it gets), the exact impact of the potentially higher number of defeats will be difficult to predict.
But if you narrow it down to the best two squads – belonging to United and City – then the fact that Mourinho has more experience of regular defeats might just lead to favouring his United over Guardiola’s City; in a battle based on who can lose best, you’d favour someone who has recovered from defeats before.