Can Spurs beat bogey team Liverpool? Will Pochettino finally beat Klopp?
Two potential title contenders are playing catch up to the Manchester clubs after an inconsistent start, but can Tottenham or Liverpool take the advantage this weekend?
Both sides have had their issues, and Mauricio Pochettino has never beaten Jurgen Klopp, so here Dan Kilpatrick (Tottenham) and Glenn Price (Liverpool) preview this weekend's big match.
Q. What's at stake here?
Dan Kilpatrick: Spurs squandered the momentum from their last seismic Champions League night, the 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund, in a stupefying 0-0 draw with Swansea at Wembley and they will not want to do the same on Sunday after the coming-of-age performance to draw 1-1 at Real Madrid. But Liverpool are their bogey team and they are winless in 10 matches against the Reds. More dropped points at home would probably leave Spurs playing catch-up again but a first win for Pochettino vs. Klopp would open up a seven-point lead over Liverpool and set-up a mouth-watering trip to Manchester United next weekend.
Glenn Price: Well if Liverpool are beaten you could say they'll be plunged back into "crisis" once again. In the league, they're on a run of one victory in their last five matches and the gap between them and leaders Manchester City is already nine points. It means three points would be well-received, but given Liverpool's next league fixtures -- Huddersfield, West Ham United and Southampton -- are all winnable, a point from an encouraging performance isn't the worst result, especially in the context that the match is hot off the heels off a Champions League week.
Q. Will Liverpool or Spurs finish in the top three this season?
DK: It is difficult to finish in the top three without solid foundations which makes Spurs the more serious contenders again. The draw in Madrid, without important players, underlined the newfound strength in the squad and they have experience of finishing third and second in the last two seasons. It would help if they could replicate Liverpool's success at beating direct rivals, starting on Sunday, and they need to click at Wembley quickly to have any chance of another title challenge.
GP: Klopp said in preseason that Liverpool were aiming for the Premier League crown this term, but his side haven't displayed anywhere near the defensive discipline needed and ruthlessness in the final third so far to mount a serious title challenge. In fact, their indifferent start to the season has put them in a battle for the top four. Spurs, meanwhile, looked to have turned a corner in recent weeks. They are excellent flat-track bullies, but their results against Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid suggest they can now deliver in the high-profile matches. From what we've seen so far, it's fair to predict Spurs will finish the season in third, or possibly higher.
Q. What will be the key battle?
DK: In the dugout. Klopp is the only Premier League manager who has never been outwitted by Pochettino and in their last meeting -- Liverpool's 2-0 win at Anfield -- Spurs' high defensive line was horribly exposed. The managers have cancelled each other out in three of their four league meetings but it will be a different kind of game on Wembley's big pitch and both should have success on the counterattack. Pochettino is likely to have options -- Danny Rose, Ben Davies and Mousa Dembele could all return -- and picking the right personnel and system should be key to the result.
GP: Well it sounds obvious, but I think Liverpool's frontline coming up against Hugo Lloris will be crucial. The France goalkeeper brilliantly limited Real Madrid's attacking talent to just one goal in midweek. Up until Tuesday's 7-0 thrashing of Maribor, Liverpool have had trouble converting the chances they've made this season. Klopp praised Philippe Coutinho, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino's composure in front of goal in midweek, but it may be different coming up against Lloris next. Like with United's David De Gea last weekend, even if Liverpool's finishing is first class, Spurs know Loris can bail them out.
Q. Liverpool under Klopp or Spurs under Poch: Who is best set for long-term success?
DK: Pochettino echoed his chairman Daniel Levy this week by saying he could remain at Spurs for 10 to 15 years and, while that still seems fanciful, there is no doubting his commitment to the project. With the new stadium on the way and a young squad, everything is in place for long-term success, even if concerns about the club's wage structure loom in the background. Pochettino's acceptance of Levy's thriftiness and patient development of young players suggest he is in it for the long-haul. From the outside, Liverpool appear more stable than in recent years but their improvement is incremental and, given the higher expectations at Anfield than at Spurs, it is more likely that they tire with Klopp before Pochettino gets a better offer from elsewhere.
GP: I think Dan's right in saying there are higher expectations at Liverpool. When some sections of the media looked at the two-year anniversary of Klopp taking over, the idea that the German has been a flop were touted. Liverpool were on a run of one win in their last seven at the time, but there's no question the club are certainly heading in the right direction under Klopp, even if it appears gradual. Long-term plans and "projects" aren't practical at Liverpool because there is almost a duty to win every single week and the fact it's been 27 years since they last won the title. Klopp and Pochettino are yet to win a trophy in England, but their job security seems rock solid. At this moment, Spurs look likelier than Liverpool to win the title, but that would all change if Pochettino were to depart. The biggest worry for Spurs is a club plucking Pochettino. In the past, he's not been shy to discuss the teams he'd like to manage in the future, and it might just be a question of how long he's willing to play on an unlevel playing field, given Spurs' rigid structure.
DK: 1-1. Liverpool have won the recent battles, even if Spurs have won the wars, and they will frustrate Spurs again at Wembley.
GP: 0-0. There may not be a lot of goals, but these matches do tend to be rather entertaining. I'm going for an action-packed goalless draw that will frustrate both teams.