Why Liverpool's trip to Tottenham could set the tone for their season

How Liverpool respond to their defeat to Manchester City could be a big test of their credentials against difficult opponents.

It may only be the third game of the season, but there are going to be plenty of eyes watching how Liverpool respond to their defeat to Manchester City when they take on Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Sunday lunchtime. 

After a season where they unexpectedly challenged for the title, and a transfer window which has seen the departure of a star man in Luis Suarez with plenty of players arriving at the club to ensure they can challenge on four fronts, this Liverpool side needs to show their teeth. 

They go to a ground where they won 5-0 last season and sent out a message to the rest of the league, but the early indications suggest this is a very different Tottenham team they're facing under Mauricio Pochettino on Sunday. A side that can dig out the gritty win like they did at West Ham United, and one that can play with confidence and sweep aside those who arrive in their own backyard below par as they demonstrated against Queens Park Rangers. 

Last season, Liverpool seemed to be capable of bouncing back from defeat well - if not in result then in performance. 

There is no shame in the side losing to Manchester City. City have only lost the one home game in the league in the past year and their home form was an integral part of them becoming champions. It will always be a difficult place to go as a result.

During Monday night's defeat to City, it was hard not to think that Liverpool's heads were dropping a little during the game after a spell of sustained pressure on the champions before being hit by a sucker punch goal. Some would say that's an element of what may not make them title contenders this season.

They'll travel to White Hart Lane with yet another new signing in their ranks in Mario Balotelli, and it will be fascinating to see what kind of line-up Brendan Rodgers goes with as the Italian provides some flexibility in the final third that perhaps wasn't there in the opening two games.

Liverpool will be keen to get back to winning ways, and in some ways it can still come across that the side are on track to challenge towards the top end of the table this season.

It could set the tone for the season to come. A win for Liverpool and it will feel like a setback that many sides are likely to suffer this season at the Etihad Stadium, due to the kind of team they've faced in Manchester City, and can bounce back easily. However, back-to-back defeats may hint at something else, possibly a sign of a struggle.

Sunday's trip is likely to be a very difficult one for Liverpool - but if they come away with a win, at a ground that prior to last season wasn't exactly their friendliest place to visit - then it will feel like at least one big question has been answered about them before we've even entered the second month of the campaign.

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