Tottenham tactics: Liverpool vs Spurs preview (a)

We’ve had a week to get ready for what will be a crucial Premier League clash, as Sunday sees us travel to Anfield for Liverpool vs Spurs.

The Reds are flying high and chasing the Premier League title, whilst we need the three points if we’re to stay in contention for the top four.

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

Liverpool transitions

The most dangerous part of Liverpool’s game and why they lead the Premier League in goals scored is the speed of their transitions.

The Reds are essentially a counter attacking team despite controlling possession in matches. This may seem like a paradox, but they are able to be effective with this style in two ways.

The first is that they are looking to create turnovers by trapping in midfield and then swiftly moving the ball for a runner in-behind.

Brendan Rodgers has used many formations this season, including 3-5-2, 4-3-3 and most recently a 4-4-2 diamond. This allows him to get four players in central areas in order to trap opponents and create turnovers.

Once the Reds have the ball, they can swiftly transfer it forward, looking for the runs of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge.

Liverpool’s opening goal against Sunderland was an excellent example of this. Coutinho won the ball back in central midfield and then instantly looked for Luis Suarez running in-behind.


Coutinho tries to pick out Suarez.

The Uruguayan was fouled and Liverpool scored from the resulting free kick, but the passage of play was typical Liverpool. Regain possession in central midfield, then instantly look for a runner in-behind that Coutinho or Steven Gerrard can find with their pinpoint passing.

Arsenal also fell victim to this as they were blown away 5-1 at Anfield.

Liverpool dispossessed the Gunners time and again in central midfield then hit the runners in-behind. Their third, fourth and fifth goals were excellent examples of this, as Arsenal couldn’t cope with the speed of Liverpool’s transitions.


Liverpool chances created against Arsenal.

The second way that Liverpool counter attack is in controlling possession by moving the ball around at the back.

Brendan Rodgers wants his side to play out from the goalkeeper. Simon Mignolet will always look short for one his defenders or Steven Gerrard dropping deep between the centre backs.

This means that the opposition are naturally brought up the pitch, as they are tempted in to trying to regain possession.

Of course it’s lead to a number of high profile blunders, such as Kolo Toure’s pass straight to Victor Anichebe at West Brom, but it allows Liverpool to counter through having possession. The opposition are brought forward, leaving the likes of Steven Gerrard to swiftly transfer the ball and the strikers once again have space to run in to.


Steven Gerrard passes played against Sunderland.

The Tottenham tactics for Liverpool vs Spurs here will need to slow down the Reds’ transitions through midfield. Playing narrow and matching them four vs four in here is one way, getting a body constantly on Steven Gerrard to stop him passing forwards is another.

Liverpool Errors

With Liverpool playing around with the ball at the back in order to keep possession, but also entice opponents on to them, this can be prone to errors.

Despite all their scoring, the Reds have made the most errors in the Premier League this season. This has seen them gift goals to their opponents, such as Kolo Toure’s blunder at West Brom and his slice in to his own net at Fulham.

But it’s not just Toure who has been at fault. Martin Skrtel leads the way with 9 individual errors leading to goals so far this season. Liverpool’s centre backs have often looked uncomfortable with the possession based style that Brendan Rodgers demands.

Whilst the Reds are a handful to contain, you always feel that they are prone to conceding one. The Tottenham tactics for Liverpool vs Spurs should focus on looking to force errors in advanced areas.

Press or stick

This is a Russian roulette of a question against Liverpool, as their counter-attacking style can overcome teams that press. However, inviting them on by sitting deep will also make for a long day of chasing the runs of Sturridge, Suarez and Coutinho.

The answer to this question probably lies somewhere in between.

Southampton are the only team to have come away from Anfield with all three Premier League points. Pochettino’s side are known for their energetic closing down, but here they used their front four of Lambert, Osvaldo, Rodriguez and Lallana to press whilst the rest dropped deeper.

This lead to two zones of ball recovery, as sat behind them in the pivot, Wanyama and Schneiderlin regained a ton of possession in the centre of the park.


Southampton ball recoveries against Liverpool.

Aston Villa emerged from Anfield with a point, but it could have been much more. They used their front three of Benteke, Wiemann and Agbonlahor to close down whilst the rest of the team dropped off.

Villa’s 4-3-3 gave the Reds no end of problems, especially as they got round Steven Gerrard, whilst also creating turnovers up the park.


Aston Villa recoveries against Liverpool.

The Tottenham tactics for Liverpool vs Spurs would see us do well to operate something similar. Pressing with our front four players to keep their defence honest, whilst the rest drop deeper to defend against Liverpool’s quick transitions.

Where Liverpool concede goals

Brendan Rodgers has either gone with wide forwards or his diamond formation recently. This has meant that any width has had to come from his full backs.

Both Glen Johnson and Jon Flanagan are tasked with getting forward and both are extremely dangerous when doing so, Johnson especially. However, this also leaves them open to being attacked in the spaces that they leave.

Liverpool tonked Cardiff 6-3 the other week, but the Bluebirds were able to create chances and score goals from getting behind in Flanagan’s left back zone.


Cardiff City chances created against Liverpool.

Aston Villa almost edged Liverpool at Anfield and they too scored both their goals from getting in-behind the full backs and squaring the ball.


Aston Villa chances created against Liverpool.

In recent matches we’ve seen Tim Sherwood adopt a central winger by employing Nacer Chadli or Aaron Lennon off the central striker. This player has drifted out from the centre to each wing in order to create overloads and develop crossing situations.

Going with a player like Nacer Chadli in this central winger role again here may well pay dividends. It would allow us to attack behind Liverpool’s full backs. It would also allow us to stretch Brendan Rodgers’ narrow diamond formation, which is how you have to play against this system.

Liverpool vs Spurs outlook

Anfield has turned in to one of the hardest places to go this season and this will be a severe test of our team and Tim Sherwood’s tactics.

Liverpool are always looking to start extremely quickly and jump out to an early lead. If they get in front, this means that the opposition are pulled on to them and they can launch their quick transition counter attacks.

We will also have to be very mindful of set pieces.

Liverpool leads the Premier League with 20 goals from dead ball situations. Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez are both threats to fire home a free kick, whilst the former can also deliver deadly whipped-in crosses from corners too.

The team news that Emmanuel Adebayor may miss out once again is not good. Kyle Walker definitely being out is a blow. He is someone that could push Flanagan back and potentially get beyond him.

The key will be stretching Liverpool with plenty of width and looking to get beyond their full backs. It might be easier said than done.

Liverpool vs Spurs prediction: Liverpool 3 Spurs 1.

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12 Responses to Tottenham tactics: Liverpool vs Spurs preview (a)

  1. FELIX SARPONG-GHANA 28th March 2014 at 5:48 pm #


    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 28th March 2014 at 6:42 pm #

      Thanks for reading Felix, glad you liked it.

  2. Al 28th March 2014 at 7:39 pm #

    Good read
    From LFC fan

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 29th March 2014 at 4:37 pm #

      Cheers Al.

  3. Chris 28th March 2014 at 9:07 pm #

    We … are … so … screwed.

    If we do that high line + no pressure thing again, I think my head will explode. Perhaps go back to that Harry-era thing of defending really deep and having Modric pop a wonderful ball off to Bale or Lennon, have them run the pitch and cross for Crouchy/Super-Pav to score.

    What’s that you say, we sold them? WTF.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 29th March 2014 at 4:38 pm #

      A high line could well be suicide against Suarez and Sturridge, they won’t be as wasteful as Southampton.

  4. Paulo 30th March 2014 at 10:54 pm #

    Here’s my post match analysis.
    Yours will probably be more constructive!!!


    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 31st March 2014 at 4:36 pm #

      I think that’s pretty good Paulo. I would add appauling and unacceptable.

      • Paulo 31st March 2014 at 7:57 pm #


        …… Almost by magic I’ve spelt something down the side…

        Cheers for all the great reads… never miss an article.

        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 31st March 2014 at 10:47 pm #

          Remarkable the number of negative words that fit his name :)

          Thanks for reading, the support is always appreciated and i enjoy the comments banter.

  5. brendan 31st March 2014 at 5:41 pm #

    Excellent couple of articles about this game. Really good reading. Thanks. ( LFC )

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 31st March 2014 at 7:15 pm #

      Cheers Brendan, good luck going for the title, we’ll pip you to it next year :)