Article by Mizgan Masani – @mizgans
Liverpool would be aiming to strike back after a disappointing midweek loss when they face struggling Fulham at Anfield on Sunday. The Reds were humbled 2-0 at Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League, where they performed below any form of expectations.
Jurgen Klopp will now be looking to put things right and get the team going, starting against Fulham this weekend. The Cottagers are in real strife at the moment after getting promoted to the Premier League last summer. They have conceded 29 goals in 11 games and currently lie at the bottom of the table.
Regarding team news, the Reds have captain Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita back in the reckoning for selection on Sunday. Joe Gomez has also recovered from his slight niggle, and Dejan Lovren is also available after picking up the flu in Belgrade on Tuesday.
For the away team, left-back Joe Bryan and midfielder Kevin McDonald are out of contention for this game. Other than that, Slavisa Jokanovic has a wide enough squad (with negligible confidence) to pick his eleven from.
Without further ado, let’s tactically preview the game and take a look as to how both teams could line up come Sunday:
The above image shows how both sides can line up with respective formations. Liverpool’s midfield were very labourious and one-dimensional against Red Star, resulting in no pace and creativity. That nullified the threat of the front line, and there was no pace in transition from defence to attack, making it easy for the Belgrade team to defend.
With Henderson and Keita back, we should see them back in action just because the former can bring more intensity and urgency in central areas, while the latter can influx drive and passing penetration in between the lines, that will help the front line to be on their game making different types of runs to trouble the Fulham defenders.
Gomez is back fit and should partner Virgil van Dijk in central defence, the most successful duo for the Reds this season.
For the Cottagers, they are struggling to put anything together in any part of the game. Jokanovic hasn’t been able to field the same starting eleven this season, reflective of the grapple he is going through at the moment.
Sergio Rico hasn’t instilled much confidence in goal; hence, we may see Marcus Bettinelli back in the starting lineup. The back four should be the same as was the case in Huddersfield, just because continuity at the back helps in better communication and enhanced version of defensive actions to thwart a talented attack like Liverpool’s.
In the midfield, with McDonald absent, the trio of Tom Cairney, Andre Anguissa and Jean Michael Seri is guaranteed to start. The latter, who was bought during the summer with such high expectations, needs to start delivering to impact games in better ways.
The front line has struggled to score goals in the recent games, especially, Mitrovic, who made a dazzling start, only to peter out lately. However, they don’t have many options regarding any rave quality to replace the current slot of players. Hence, we could see Andre Schurrle, Luciano Vietto and Mitrovic up front for the London-based club.
Concerning tactics, Liverpool will have to quicken up their passing, especially from midfield to front. That is where they can break teams like Fulham who are expected to sit deeper in two lines of four and five. The Reds should also be mindful of the fact that the fullbacks are involved in the attacking build-up, as they are the only ones who provide the width to the team, stretching the opposition defence. On many occasions against Red Star, Andy Robertson went forward to some extent and then passed the ball back to suck any momentum out.
At the end of the day, this is the game where Klopp’s men have to show some reaction after a severe defeat during the week. They could also prey on the opportunity that the Manchester derby is after this game, hence, getting the three points would put added pressure on the Manchester City heads.
Article by Mizgan Masani – @mizgans
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