The Premier League’s golden boot joust between Harry Kane and Mohamed Salah seemed to get personal last season after Kane was controversially awarded a goal against Stoke that he didn’t appear to touch.
Tottenham successfully appealed for the goal to be awarded to Kane rather than Christian Eriksen, sparking a storm of social media ridicule, with Salah even joining in to express puzzlement at the decision.
The Egyptian eventually came out on top after scoring 32 goals to the England striker’s 30.
But the battle has recommenced this campaign with both strikers already on two goals for the season and looking to add to that tally when they go head-to-head at Wembley at lunchtime today.
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino yesterday tried to play down the personal battle, saying the players were too different to compare.
“They are two completely different players,” said Pochettino. “One is more a player that plays on the side, but now is a little bit playing inside, but he’s a winger.
“The other is for me a more complete player but both are complete players. I don’t want to say anything against one or the other or just because Harry is my player, I am going to praise Harry and kill Salah.”
“I think both are fantastic players. The difference is obvious. They are different in the way that they play and how they act on the pitch. But I think both are very good players.”
Liverpool are expected to be genuine title challengers to Manchester City this season and people said the same about Tottenham after a landmark win at Manchester United. But Spurs followed that 3-0 victory at Old Trafford with a 2-1 defeat to Watford, where Pochettino accused his players of operating as if it was a testimonial match.
Pochettino’s side effectively ended talk of a Wembley hoodoo when they beat Jurgen Klopp’s team 4-1 last October — and the Argentinian is not expecting a repeat of the limp performance at Vicarage Road.
He said: “If Saturday we play in the same way — I don’t say performance, because the performance was not bad against Watford — but if we do it the same way, rather than take off players, I will be on the phone to say, ‘Houston, we have a problem!’
“Come on. If, against Liverpool at Wembley, you do not have the desire and the focus to play, it is not about playing well, it is about attitude and to say, ‘Hey, come on, we are aggressive and we try to win’.
“If you watch the Watford game again, you see we played so slow, so sloppy, from the beginning. It was like we thought, ‘OK, it is a nice afternoon in Watford, Elton John is in the stands’, it was like going to Hyde Park with my child.
“Maybe I repeat again but after Manchester United, all the signals from the team were that we were going to crash.
“Of course now to win against Liverpool can change the mood and change the perception and everything but still if you win, after you win against Brighton. Because you need to be consistent.
“It’s not to be focused and right in one game and then the job is done, football the energy is 10 months, you need to be ready and it’s tough, yes, but in our contract and our salary, that is why the club pay us because we need to be consistent in 10 months.
“It’s not one week and another week. It’s difficult to compete if you are not consistent.
“Liverpool have a great manager and a great coaching staff, unbelievable players.”
“In the last few years they have shown they are contenders for the Premier League and they played the final of the Champions League and to get there is because you have a great team and of course they improved this summer and they will be tough to beat.”
Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen hopes the club can resolve the uncertainty over their new stadium as soon as possible and announce a ‘moving in’ date.
Failures to “critical safety systems” saw them move back to Wembley, where they began the season against Fulham. Spurs may not play at their new home until December.
All three of their Champions League home group games will be played at Wembley, while MK Dons’ Stadium MK will stage their Carabao Cup tie against Watford on September 26.
“The players don’t really know what’s going on, but hopefully it will be done soon enough and we can play there,” said Eriksen.
“It’s an amazing build which is going to take time, it’s disappointing (Spurs are not playing there yet) and we should have a date.
“It has to be in good shape when we get in it, and if it takes a little bit longer then it takes a little bit longer.”
Klopp’s side were humbled 4-1 at Wembley last season when Kane scored twice and Eriksen pulled the Spurs strings in midfield.
“We know Liverpool is a big game against a team who have been one of the best this season,” said Eriksen.
“We’ve had the same team for the last three seasons and we’ve been up there, so we should be up there again. That’s our aim.
“They can buy as many players as they want, but we have the same squad and we’re going to go for it.
“It will be an intense game but those are fun to play in.”