Anfield stadium witnesses a strong confrontation between defending champion Liverpool and its partner in the lead, Tottenham, on Wednesday, in the 13th stage of the English Premier League.
Tottenham are only ahead of Liverpool on goal difference, and thus a victory will put either of them in the lead alone with the expiration of the first third of the season.
Eight points separate the top 13 teams, so the current season of the Premier League looks very different from last season, when Liverpool fought their way to the title without any competition.
The short break that separated the past and current seasons, along with the pressure of the competition agenda, has already yielded several surprising results, at a time when Liverpool in particular suffered from the injury of many of its main stars.
Liverpool misses for a long time the efforts of defenders Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Kostas Tsimikas and striker Diogo Jota, as well as Thiago Alcantara, Naby Keita, James Milner and Sheridan Shaqiri from the summit match against Tottenham.
Defender Joel Matip is undergoing a medical examination before the Tottenham match after he was left injured between the two halves of the match in which Liverpool and Fulham drew on Sunday, an injury that coach Jurgen Klopp classified as a “back spasm.”
“We still have defenders,” Klopp said, “we pushed Hendou (Commander Jordan Henderson) into the center of the defense (yesterday).”
“This is how it is. I hope Joel will recover, but I don’t know, and then we have to find a solution. This is the football season,” he added.
Despite the series of injuries, Liverpool have lost only once in the current season of the domestic league, while they have not suffered any defeat at home in the last 65 league’s games.
“It’s a big game for us,” Henderson said. “We have to recover well, prepare for that match.”
He added, “We have to continue our start, there are a lot of games in a short period of time, but this applies to everyone, the pressure of matches, injuries and things like that, but this makes us stronger as a team.”
Tottenham shares with Liverpool that they have suffered one defeat this season and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg said his team was ready to test its abilities against the defending champions.
“I think it’s a good sign that we were not feeling happy in the locker room after the 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace on Sunday,” Højbjerg said.
He added, “Because of the match calendar, we have an agenda for difficult matches and we have a match on Wednesday in which we should demonstrate our capabilities and ambitions.”
Any stumbling block at the top is an opportunity that rival teams may take advantage of, as Leicester City are away from Tottenham and Liverpool by one point, Southampton are two points away and Chelsea are three points away.
Leicester, led by coach Brendan Rodgers, meets Everton on Wednesday, and James Maddison, who scored twice in the 3-0 win over Brighton on Sunday, said his team showed the diversity needed to succeed.
“The boys know the roles and responsibilities of each playing method, because in order to be at the top and compete to qualify for the Champions League and European participation as we want, we need to have enough intelligence to move between the different ways of playing during the match and to be aware of what awaits us,” he added.
Southampton, fourth-placed, is out against Arsenal, whose Spanish coach, Mikel Arteta, is under intense pressure after the team lost at home to Burnley with a goal without a response, dropping to 15th place in the table.
Chelsea may join Tottenham and Liverpool in the lead with 25 points if they beat Wolverhampton on Tuesday, and on the same day, Manchester City will meet at home, West Bromwich Albion.
Manchester United are out to play bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United on Thursday, as Aston Villa meet Burnley.
On Wednesday, Leeds United will meet Newcastle and Fulham with Brighton and West Ham United with Crystal Palace.