Spurs vs Liverpool is up next for us in the Premier League, so we look at how to take on Jurgen Klopp’s Reds.
The international break is done and dusted with a couple of Premier League sides using the time to change managers. The Reds were one such team and the arrival of Jurgen Klopp will see his first game in charge come at White Hart Lane with Spurs vs Liverpool on Saturday.
The German’s arrival has thrown something of a spanner in the works. I did have a big piece planned on how to take on Brendan Rodgers’ side. However, with the Northern Irishman gone, we’ll have to see just how much of his fabled 4-3-3 high pressing system Jurgen Klopp has been able to implement. Missing most of his players due to international duty and then racking up the injuries, this match may well see the new coach keep things very simple.
What we can look at is where Liverpool have been prone to conceding this season and where the weaknesses have been, starting with their full backs.
Where Liverpool concede chances
Liverpool have had an underwhelming begininng to the season by their standards and after starting out keeping clean sheets, their full backs have been gradually exposed.
Both players have been instructed to get forwards, which has left them prone to being attacked in the spaces that they leave. So far this season, Nathaniel Clyne on the right looks unsure of where he needs to be as he settles in to the club. Over on the left, Joe Gomez has looked positionally naive, which is to be expected at his young age. Alberto Moreno when he has stepped in hasn’t been quick enough to recover or close defensive ground.
The combination of these factors has seen them concede chances and goals through their full back zones.
Take Liverpool’s last, and to be fair only away loss in the Premier League this season, at Manchester United. The Red Devils opened the scoring as they got the ball wide to Ashley Young and he got beyond Nathaniel Clyne and was fouled. The resulting free kick was passed square for Daley Blind to rifle the ball in to the roof of the net.
Man Utd’s second arrived as the other full back, Joe Gomez was attacked by Ander Herrera dribbling at and past him. Gomez dived in and fouled the Spaniard, who coolly converted the resulting spot kick.
The third, and killing goal at 2-1 by Anthony Martial summed up how you go about scoring on Liverpool. The ball was swiftly moved out to Ashley Young, dragging Nathaniel Clyne up-field. Martial ran in-behind him to receive the pass, which dragged Martin Skrtel out from the back four and in to space where his lack of speed is now exposed. Martial twisted and turned to go past and leave Skrtel standing before slotting in to the corner past Simon Mignolet.
It’s not just Man Utd that have shown the way to score on Liverpool. Aston Villa lost 3-2 in their recent trip to Anfield, but Tim Sherwood’s charges creeated chances and goals from getting in to the full back zones.
In Liverpool’s last away match, a 1-1 draw with Everton, the Toffees also scored as they got the ball wide in to the left back zone. Alberto Moreno was slow to close allowing a cross and Romelu Lukaku smacked home the resulting panicked clearance of Emre Can.
The goal not only highlighted how you need to get at the full backs, but also another Liverpool problem of old, defensive errors and miscues.
Brendan Rodgers long had his Liverpool team play the ball around at the back to navigate pressure and draw the opponent on. The idea of this was to create effectively a counter attack situation from his side’s own possession. Pulling enough numbers of the opposition players up the pitch then leaves spaces for his side to run in to. We saw some good examples of it during his time in charge, including being hit by a couple of goals by it in Liverpool 4 Spurs 0 in the 2013/14 season.
Whilst their may be nothing wrong with Rodgers’ plan, the Reds have not had the defenders to do it as they aren’t comfortable enough on the ball under pressure. This has always seen them make errors and its no surprise that they lead the Premier League in this category of the OPTA statistics once again this season. Liverpool have made 8 defensive turnover errors so far this season with three being converted in to goals.
Just what approach Jurgen Klopp takes to possession at the back will be a key point to watch for in Spurs vs Liverpool this time. The Reds’ defenders are prone to pressure and do need to be pressed and harried as they are not comfortable when time and space are restricted.
Will Jurgen Klopp be a diamond geezer?
One thing Brendan Rodgers did learn was how to frustrate and take on a Mauricio Pochettino system. The first time Rodgers played Pochettino he saw his side beaten at Anfield by the Argentine’s Southampton. Rodgers had gone 4-3-3 and was overrun in the centre of the pitch.
Since that first game Rodgers always went with a diamond formation, as he knew that he had to do two things. Firstly, get at least 4v4 in central midfield to counter and nullify Pochettino’s set up. Secondly, once the ball is won back, he has two strikers with which to get the ball quickly forward to so that they can attack an exposed back four.
Rodgers used the system relentlessly against Pochettino in subsequent meetings to gain the upper hand. It will be interesting to see if any of the staff still at Liverpool instruct Jurgen Klopp that this is the way to go.
Both head coaches have problems ahead of this one.
We have a huge Eric Dier sized hole to fill. Dier has become indispensable this season and his suspension here will greatly affect our ability to press and hem Liverpool in. Nabil Bentaleb is out, as is Ryan Mason and so Mousa Dembele looks the likeliest to come in for Dier. That is unless Pochettino disrupts the centre back pairing to move Toby Alderweireld in to a position he has played before.
Jurgen Klopp also has personnel issues. Christian Benteke and Danny Ings are out, restricting his striker and wide forward options. Joe Gomez, Lazar Markovic, Roberto Firmino and Jordan Henderson are also on the sidelines, which may prevent Klopp from playing a true 4-3-3 in his own style.
Spurs vs Liverpool outlook
Second-guessing what Jurgen Klopp is going to do for his first game in charge is risky given the relatively few days he’s had with his squad and the number of injuries. What we should be focussing on is attacking the areas where Liverpool have been weak this season. These have been the full backs and defensive errors from being pressed.
Solving the riddle of how to replace Eric Dier without it having an unbalancing effect on the rest of the team will be the difference between controlling this game and a potential end-to-end up-tempo shootout.
Spurs vs Liverpool prediction: Spurs 2-1 Liverpool.
Spurs vs Liverpool betting
After three successful bets that landed a combined return of 22/1 against Swansea, we take a look at some more value to be had in Spurs vs Liverpool tomorrow.
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