Article by @mizgans
The plots, subplots, drama, melodrama, etc. are back as we welcome back Premier League football tomorrow. To start off, we will see league leaders Liverpool travelling to London to face Tottenham Hotspur in a glorious Wembley arena. Props to the delay in construction of the new Spurs stadium, otherwise this would have been the first game there.
Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp endured their lowest point of last season when they went away to play Spurs at Wembley and get humbled by a scoreline of 4-1. So, there must be revenge in the minds of all the players wearing red tomorrow. Furthermore, this game starts their nightmare run of seven games in 23 days, out of which probably six of them are very big. And amongst that, the home game against Southampton too won’t be easy.
As for Tottenham, their manager Mauricio Pochettino wasn’t happy after his team buckled under pressure at Watford just before the International break. So he would be aiming to get a response out of his players and put up a better show against the current trend-setters in the league.
The history of this fixture suggests the tactical battle will be intense and there will be goals aplenty. Last time these two teams played out a goalless draw was in 2015, the first game of Klopp in charge of Liverpool.
Before any further ado, let’s dissect the game tactically with the predicted lineups and explain in a layman language as to how the game could pan out tomorrow:
As shown in the above tactics board, the expected starting lineup and formations with which both teams may start the game tomorrow. The interesting thing to analyse here is that Spurs are without Dele Alli, Hugo Lloris and Mousa Sissoko. The problem for Pochettino is he isn’t sure about Son Heung-Min as well (who came back during the international break after the Asian Games), meaning three at the back with five across midfield seems the only option left for him.
Meanwhile, predicting a Liverpool starting lineup to face a big team is quite simple, in a positive way. Klopp now knows what’s his best eleven is, on which he can trust in crunch moments and expect an affirmative result.
Tactically, Spurs manager would never want his team to get beaten in midfield. As a result, we may see the trio of Eric Dier, Mousa Dembele and Christian Eriksen in midfield, with the former two as holding and the latter as a floating number 8. The surprising thing against Manchester United was the positioning of Lucas Moura. The Brazilian was deployed in a central role alongside Harry Kane.
This helped the England striker to create space for his partner by making different runs and offering up to the long balls. It took United and Jose Mourinho by surprise as Moura has the pace to trouble any defence in the world.
Hence, the ploy from Pochettino would be to sit deep with five at the back and invite Liverpool on. Subsequently, hit them on the counter with an outlet of Moura and the craftiness of Eriksen. Kane will be there in and around to keep the Reds’ defenders on their toes.
On the other hand, for the visitors, they are almost certain to go with the conventional 4-3-3 system. Klopp may just prefer Georginio Wijnaldum ahead of Jordon Henderson in that number 6 role, just because the former has been in good form and shown more control while playing there early on this season.
The most important roles will be played by James Milner and Naby Keita. They are the ones who are responsible to add numbers and domination in midfield, as well as cover for the fullbacks moving forward almost as wingers. Since Tottenham are expected to sit deep, the use of the ball from Liverpool’s midfield could be an important factor. The better they use, the more their coveted front three will get a chance to test the home side’s second-choice keeper.
Playing against a back three might work in favour of Liverpool’s front line as well. This is because if Spurs have the ball and their wingbacks are caught higher up the pitch, then Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane will get a situation of 3 v 3 on the counter. And from there on, you can expect them to create a goal-scoring opportunity. For that reason alone, we predict the home team to sit deep and not give an inch away to their dangerous opponents.
That’s all for now as to how the game may pan out tactically, now let’s move towards the stats which are related to this game which might entice the readers:
- Tottenham and Liverpool have faced each other 52 times – 23 wins for the Reds, seven of them coming away at Spurs.
- The home side have won this fixture 14 times, 12 of them coming at home which might sound good.
- This is the second highest goal-scoring fixture in the history with 148, and if both manage to score four more, they will create history. The current leaders are Arsenal and Everton with 151.
- Both teams have scored nine goals in four league games thus far. Not a bad start, given the fact that both attacks have looked out of form in certain moments.
- Liverpool have the best defence in the league since their humiliating defeat at Wembley in October of 2017. They have only conceded 23 goals and kept 17 clean sheets.
- This fixture has a history of highest number of penalties awarded with 22. The last time these two teams met at Anfield, Spurs got two spot-kick chances, the second of which was converted by Kane.
- Jurgen Klopp is yet to taste a win at Wembley. (2 losses and 1 draw)
Article by @mizgans