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Tottenham tactics: Liverpool vs Spurs preview

After putting Inter and Arsenal to the sword, the big matches keep coming thick and fast, as next up we face a tough trip to Anfield for Liverpool vs Spurs.

The Reds, much like us, are getting accustomed to life under a new manager this season and after a tricky start have hit a good run of form in the Premier League.

So what can we expect and what should be Tottenham tactics for Liverpool vs Spurs this time?

Liverpool set up and tactics

Brendan Rodgers has employed a 4-3-3 formation for much of the season, but that has switched to a 4-2-3-1 when Daniel Sturridge has been included.

As at Swansea, Rodgers sets his team up to control the possession and dictate the tempo. So much so that only Man City and Arsenal see more of the ball than the Reds this season and only the Gooners and Man Utd are more accurate passers.

In possession, they like to get the ball out to Stewart Downing and Coutinho in the wide positions. The Brazilian opts to play through balls, the Englishman cuts back inside on his left foot to cross or find his full back on the overlap. This movement from Glen Johnson means he is able to get down the outside, where he can either put the ball in to the box or fire a shot across goal.

Both wide players create chances and both are a threat to get in to the box and score when the ball is on the other side, just as Downing showed to head home Coutinho’s cross last week against Wigan.

Up front Luis Suarez is constantly working the channels and can score from his mazy dribbles or by being played in by a pass through the defence.

Without the ball, Liverpool press from the front through the energetic Uruguayan, arguably the best forward in the Premier League at hounding opposition defenders. Behind him, the rest of the side push up and look to get possession back quickly, through tackling rather than intercepting the ball. We saw this in their visit to the Lane earlier this season, where they were either able to create turnovers in our half or force Hugo Lloris to kick long and give the ball back.

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Liverpool pressure forces us to turn the ball over.

Liverpool are very effective in doing this in order to regain possession and we need to be wary of it on Sunday.

Spurs need to press

It was well known that when Brendan Rodgers was in charge of Swansea that Michel Vorm liked to play short passes to his defenders and you had to press them. Liverpool are just the same, with Pepe Reina always looking to lay a pass short to one of his centre backs or Lucas dropping in.

In Spurs 2 Liverpool 1 at White Hart Lane earlier this season, we were only pressing with our central striker (Defoe) and number ten (Dempsey). With Lucas dropping in between his centre backs to make it 3v2 in this zone, Reina was still able to pass out and Liverpool built attacks. When we brought extra pressure with Lennon and Bale from the wide areas and forced him to kick long, we won the ball back every time.

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Forcing Pepe Reina to kick long won possession back.

We still continue to press through our central striker and number ten in recent matches. The Tottenham tactics for Liverpool vs Spurs here will need to see us bring more pressure from the wider areas.

The Liverpool right

As talked about above, Liverpool are a danger to create through the Downing/Johnson partnership down the right.

Both players get forward, but Liverpool often move the ball quickly out to this flank from passes originating in the centre of midfield.

We can see against West Brom how Glen Johnson receives passes midway inside the Baggies’ half, then forward in to the zone behind the opposition full back. A lot of the balls he receives are either quickly sprayed out from central midfield or are vertical and aggressive in nature up the line.

Stewart Downing also receives a number of passes from the centre of the park played directly out to him, but in the final third passes are either backwards or inside to him. This is where he is a threat to cut back inside on his left foot and cross, thread in a through ball or shoot.

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Glen Johnson on the overlap whilst Stewart Downing cuts inside.

The Tottenham tactics for Liverpool vs Spurs needs to see this combination of Johnson and Downing slowed down. This starts with trying to limit the supply line coming out of the centre of the park, which is not an easy task for Moussa Dembele and Scott Parker. If Gylfi Sigurdsson and Benoit Assou-Ekotto continue on the Spurs left, they will have to try to jam them further up the field and force the pair to pass back inside. A better defensive player in Lewis Holtby may be an option over Sigurdsson for Andre Villas-Boas here.

Can we stop Luis Suarez?

The Premier League’s top scorer is on fire after his hat trick at Wigan last week and he presents a problem for defenders wherever he plays.

If he operates up front in a 4-3-3, Suarez is able to work the channels looking to sneak in and score as he did at Wigan last weekend. He scored his first goal through the inside left channel after a pass from Coutinho. His second came through the inside right after a threaded ball from Glen Johnson.

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Luis Suarez works the channels against Wigan.

If he plays deeper behind Daniel Sturridge then he has shown different tendencies depending on who is out on the left. If we look at Liverpool’s last two home matches where has played with the former Chelsea man, we can see this.

Against Swansea, he has Coutinho out on the left who plays and stays wide. As a result, Suarez receives passes in shorter positions to the left when just over halfway due to the Brazilian’s positioning. Then he looks to get in through the central channels when up in the final third.

Against Norwich with Jordan Henderson playing on the left, Suarez becomes much more active in this advanced left side zone, as Henderson was drifting inside.

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Luis Suarez passes received against Swansea and Norwich.

Luis Suarez will once again be Liverpool’s biggest threat and trying to slow him down will be a difficult job. If he plays with Daniel Sturridge, it will be up to Parker and Dembele to cover him. If he plays up top he can drag around the centre backs and be a menace to get in down the channels.

At Old Trafford back in January, Man Utd were effective at hindering his influence by pressing Liverpool high up the pitch, forcing him to come deeper to look for the ball. In advanced areas Rio Ferdinand would track him while Nemanja Vidic would act as a sweeper defending runs in behind. The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Liverpool could do well to see us try something similar.

Where do Liverpool concede chances?

Liverpool have become increasingly stronger at the back during the season, so much so that they’ve kept four clean sheets in their last five Premier League matches at home.

They don’t give up many chances, but teams that have had success against them have done it by getting in behind the full backs and squaring balls.

Man Utd did this well in winning 2-1 at Old Trafford, as did Wigan last week despite being drubbed 4-0.

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Man Utd and Wigan created chances from getting in behind and squaring balls.

The last team to win at Anfield in the Premier League were Aston Villa and they also had success from getting in behind to cut the ball back in order to score.

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Aston Villa scored from cut backs.

Aaron Lennon opened the scoring at White Hart Lane in Spurs 2 Liverpool 1 by scoring from Gareth Bale getting in behind the full back and squaring the ball. We have been adept at getting in behind opposition defences all season by playing balls through them, so should have some joy here.

Liverpool vs Spurs outlook

This will be a tricky away trip, especially after playing in the Europa League Thursday night. Anfield is a challenging place to go at the best of times, but the Reds are looking increasingly stronger there.

The big factor for Liverpool is up front and if Daniel Sturridge is fit enough to play? This will dictate the role of Luis Suarez and how we defend him. AVB is very much wary of the ‘tremendous’ Uruguayan.

“He is a tremendous player. He is making the difference. He is a top player and is taking almost the team on his shoulders with his goal-scoring ability. He had a tremendous game at White Hart Lane and we have to be careful with his strengths.”

We need to press Liverpool and create turnovers from either winning the ball or forcing Pepe Reina to kick downfield. This will also have the effect of forcing Luis Suarez to come deeper towards the ball and limit his attacking effectiveness.

They do concede chances from the opposition getting in behind them in the wide areas. Much of this could depend on the fitness of Aaron Lennon who is a major threat to do this along with Gareth Bale.

This could just be asking too much after two big games already this week.

Liverpool vs Spurs prediction: Liverpool 2 Spurs 1.

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2 Responses to Tottenham tactics: Liverpool vs Spurs preview

  1. Some Dude 9th March 2013 at 10:03 pm #

    Cheers for the post. Gotta love your breaking down of the game. You seem to have a knack for predicting results too. Hope your wrong this time though…

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 10th March 2013 at 10:20 am #

      I hope so as well, would be good to put some more distance between us, Chelsea and Arsenal.