Tottenham tactics: Spurs vs Liverpool preview (h)

Spurs vs Liverpool is next up for us in the Premier League, so what can we expect from Brendan Rodgers’ team?

Liverpool at home used to mean three points, but last season saw us capitulate at the Lane to a rampant Reds side.

Brendan Rodgers has been the key to Liverpool’s resurgence. His philosophy centres on rapid ball and player movement, quick transitions, pressing and possession counter attacks. Despite all this though, they can be got at in one key area.

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

Liverpool transitions

The most dangerous part of Liverpool’s game 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 different 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 at Liverpool, including 3-5-2, 4-3-3 and 4-4-2 diamond. This allows him to get extra players in central areas in order to trap opponents and create turnovers.

Once the Reds have the ball back, they can swiftly transfer it up the pitch, looking for the runs of the forwards. One of the most devastating examples of this was in their 5-1 annihilation of Arsenal last season.


Liverpool chances created against Arsenal.

You can see the chances created from the length of the passing lines. These long, swift balls can also lead to the runner playing short cut backs or squared balls for simple tap ins.

Liverpool have already been at it this season. Their first goal of their campaign came from this exact situation. Jordan Henderson won the ball back in midfield and looked straight for the run of Raheem Sterling.


Henderson pings a pass for Sterling to run on to.

Whilst they don’t have Luis Suarez to aim for anymore, Daniel Sturridge was also a dangerously fast target. The Reds have now added Mario Balotelli, so they once again have great pace from to work these situations in abundance.

Slowing down their quick transition game should form a major part of the Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Liverpool. We’ll look at how to do it in the pressing section in a minute.

Possession counter attacks

Quick transitions are Liverpool’s first form of counter attack; the second is through controlled possession.

To do this, Liverpool play around with the ball at the back in order to draw teams on to them.

Once pulled out, they can transfer the ball quickly forward as in a counter attack situation.

We saw an excellent example of this in our trip to Anfield, which finished a rather disastrous Liverpool 4 Spurs 0.

The Reds’ third goal that day arrived in this fashion, as Skrtel, Agger and Mignolet worked the ball quickly past our players who were drawn in.


Spurs get attracted up the pitch.

As soon as it went to Agger it was moved forward with Liverpool’s usual long vertical passes that they use on quick transitions. The ball went to Flanagan and then Coutinho, who arrowed his shot in to the corner of our net.

This tactic is effective and we used a similar baiting strategy in Spurs 4 QPR 0. Our third goal, the 48-pass move to Nacer Chadli was conducted in this manner. It’ll be interesting to see if we also try the same here or if it is purely a measure to control games and extend the score when we are ahead.

The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Liverpool need to focus on not getting drawn out when the Reds have the ball at the back and that means decreasing the pressing.


Whether to press Liverpool or not is a real Russian roulette game as they can hit you quickly with men out of position.

Mauricio Pochettino found this out to his consequence, as Southampton were trounced 3-0 by Liverpool at St. Mary’s, where they pressed too hard.

Here we can see how Sturridge and Suarez were left 2v2 against Southampton’s centre backs. Full backs Luke Shaw and Callum Chambers were caught up field, as were the rest of the Saints’ side. Again we can see how the ball (circled) is transferred quickly forwards.


Saints FBs get caught upfield and their CBs 2v2.

Teams that recognise this and that have had success against Liverpool will usually send 2 or 3 pressers, but then have the rest of the team drop off.

Manchester City were very effective at this in their 3-1 win over Liverpool at the Etihad on Monday night.


Man City ball recoveries aganist Liverpool.

The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Liverpool should see us try something similar. Pressing with our striker and two of our advanced midfielders, while the other seven players drop off to guard against the Reds’ quick counter passes and transitions.

Diamond Geezer?

Mauricio Pochettino split the two Premier League encounters with Brendan Rodgers last season.

After going 4-3-3 at Anfield and losing, Rodgers shifted to a 4-4-2 diamond in the return and was dominant in a 3-0 win.

Pochettino outnumbering him with four players drifting in to central midfield against his three was the reason for the Saints victory at Anfield. Matching up with a tight diamond of four saw Liverpool win their latest encounter, as Rodgers’ seems to have learnt quickly.

Could we see Liverpool go with the diamond again? After signing Mario Balotelli, they now have the two speedy striking weapons in place that they need once again to do this.

Pochettino was caught out that day as his team were too aggressive in their pressing and didn’t play with enough width to stretch the diamond. We’ll see if he is the one this time to have learnt from his last encounter with Rodgers.

Where Liverpool concede goals

Whether Brendan Rodgers goes 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 diamond, the width comes from his full backs.

Teams that have had success against Liverpool attack these areas, something that Manchester City did expertly well on Monday night.


Man City chances created against Liverpool.

Their second goal highlighted this weakness perfectly, as Stevan Jovetic’s back heel sent Samir Nasri in to the clear behind Alberto Moreno.


Jovetic gets Nasri in behind Moreno.

Nasri’s pull back was put home by Jovetic, who showed some neat movement to get across the penalty area.

City’s third goal also exposed Moreno, who was caught up field trying to jam Jesus Navas. The City man curled the ball past Moreno in to the space he had vacated, leaving Sergio Aguero to run on to it and slide home.


Aguero jets in to the space behind Moreno.

The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Liverpool would see us do well to attack these zones, especially the left back area behind new boy Moreno.

Spurs vs Liverpool outlook

After a scintillating performance against QPR, Liverpool coming to town will be a real barometer test of where we are under Mauricio Pochettino.

The Reds are a formidable side with their quick transitions, but they are also trying to find their way with integrating new players after the loss of Luis Suarez. This could see them vulnerable in the early parts of the season as Rodgers seeks to incorporate his new recruits. Now might be a good time to play them.

Spurs vs Liverpool prediction: Spurs 2 Liverpool 1.

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10 Responses to Tottenham tactics: Spurs vs Liverpool preview (h)

  1. JOHNNY 30th August 2014 at 4:38 pm #


    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 31st August 2014 at 12:13 pm #

      Not sure i’d put Fazio straight in against a side like Liverpool!

  2. steve chance 31st August 2014 at 3:34 am #

    Thankyou for the excellent articles on here, I only wish you were co-commentator on TV or radio somewhere as I am sick of the boring rubbish they spout, rarely do they discuss the real tactics and raely do they commentate on the match until the ball is in the penalty area,, sorry I digress. Keep up the great articles please I am learning a lot from you.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 31st August 2014 at 12:14 pm #

      Thanks for reading Steve, glad you are enjoying it. Some TV or radio work would be nice :)

  3. Mertscieny 31st August 2014 at 9:52 am #

    Hope tottenham win today, but then again I don’t see it happening.

  4. JOHNNY 31st August 2014 at 4:46 pm #

    How sure are you now of whom you would have played after this load of crap against Liverpool , every player with the exception of LLoris i would with hold their week`s wages loosing poccession seams to be our top thing and Townsend this guy is a natural at loosing poccession and if he is not doing that he makes horrendious passes he caused the goal after seconds on the pitch why would you turn down £12,000,000,000 for a so called tricky player who makes nothing but mistakes everytime he touchs the ball , the team as a whole were rubbish they can`t score they can`t tackle and who permitts Eriksen to take the corners he can`t get the ball over , hugh changes badly need it as far as i am concerned Lamela can go , Dembele can go , Bentalab can go , Chaldi can go , Capoue can go , Townsend must go , Adebyor must go , Rose can go , Dier completley out of position , Vertonghen a shadow of his former self , Kaboul must go “Devastated” .

    • Chris 31st August 2014 at 11:39 pm #

      Gonna have trouble fielding a team for our next match there, fella.

      • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 1st September 2014 at 10:54 am #

        Last one out, turn off the lights.

  5. steve chance 1st September 2014 at 4:33 pm #

    I was dissapointed wit Kaboul, I thought he may have turned the corner this season but as soon as we are under real pressure the mistakes start. Mark was spot on with his preview about the issue of wether to close down their players or not. Hopefully just a bad day at the office (and humiliation again of course) but got to give credit to the bin dippers, if we won like that we would be oozing escatacy.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 1st September 2014 at 4:51 pm #

      Hoping Pochettino has learnt from this. Kaboul should drift down the pecking order once Fazio is up to speed.