A worryingly open formation committed some poor turnovers and was punished, as it ended Tottenham 1-2 Liverpool in our Premier League clash.
Mauricio Pochettino didn’t seem so concerned after the match, but we were worryingly open here and were punished by some poor turnovers. Liverpool weren’t at their best, but they didn’t need to be. The Reds should’ve been more comfortable than the Tottenham 1-2 Liverpool score line suggested.
Diamond vs 4-3-3
In spite of having many players away on international duty, Mauricio Pochettino had two weeks to plan for this match. The boss opted for the diamond formation to try and cut Liverpool off through the middle, whilst getting two versus two against their centre backs.
To compliment, Pochettino had both Danny Rose and Kieran Trippier flying forward in an attempt to push Mo Salah and Sadio Mane back towards their own goal. Whilst it may have seemed like a good plan, Salah and Mane didn’t bite. The pair opted to leave Trippier and Rose. Instead, they held high positions and ran in to the spaces our full backs had left when the ball was turned over.
This is where the diamond struggles against a team playing 4-3-3. The wide forwards in 4-3-3 can then create three versus two situations against a pair of exposed centre backs. Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld were stretched across the pitch and had a torrid time stopping Liverpool counter attacks.
Spurs were almost behind inside one minute to such an event. As a result of the space left by Danny Rose, Jan Vertonghen was dragged out to the touchline, leaving Mane and Firmino to get around Toby Alderweireld. The offside flag came to the rescue and Spurs should’ve learnt from the warning, but we didn’t.
The issue for us was that we turnover the ball over way too often and in dangerous parts of the pitch when highly exposed.
Eric Dier’s blind back pass that fell to the feet of Mo Salah was an example of our sloppiness when in a highly vulnerable position. However, Dier wasn’t alone in gifting Liverpool’s front three excellent starting positions to attack.
The most criminal example was on Liverpool’s opener. Roberto Firmino blocked Toby Alderweireld’s attempted pass. Christian Eriksen then headed the partial clearance straight to Sadio Mane who won a corner.
We’ve given up far too many goals at set pieces already this season and Liverpool took advantage. The Reds surrounded goalkeeper Michel Vorm.
Vorm flapped at the first effort to punch clear. Eric Dier then didn’t get enough on his clearance. Georginio Wijnaldum headed the ball back at goal, just crossing the line before Vorm could parry. Referee Michael Oliver awarded the goal as the technology showed it clearly crossed the line.
Without Lloris, Gazzaniga needs to play. Vorm is too much of a liability and our opponents know it
— Spurs Fanatic (@spurs_fanatical) 15 September 2018
Fallible full backs
Our full backs jetting forward and poor turnovers leaving them out of position had been the constant threat in the first half. Liverpool then added a second as Sadio Mane lit up Kieran Trippier.
Trippier is a much better wingback than he is a full back purely due to his lack of pace not being exposed when deployed in the former role. Playing as a full back here, Trippier didn’t have the speed to go with Mane’s spin and sprint down the line.
Andrew Robertson found Mane with a sublimely lofted ball over the top. Trippier couldn’t recover and Mane played a dangerous ball through the six-yard box. Jan Vertonghen slid in to stop it, but deflected the ball against the post. Michel Vorm then somehow contrived to let the rebound squirm through his gloves. Roberto Firmino was waiting for a tap in and he was rewarded. Tottenham 0-2 Liverpool.
Energy on the outsides
Chances for Tottenham throughout the match were few and far between. Christian Eriksen’s runs beyond the front two looked our best way to goal. However, it was Lucas Moura and then Erik Lamela, both of whom played with boundless energy attacking down the outsides, which created our best chances after the interval.
Lucas Moura struck the woodwork after a mazy dribbling run. Christian Eriksen found Moura with an inch perfect sweeping pass. Virgil van Dijk was dragged over to the touchline. Moura skipped past him and rung a shot off the foot of the post.
Erik Lamela was then introduced. Lamela and Moura played on the outside of an advanced midfield three in a 4-2-3-1 formation. The pair’s energy gave Liverpool real trouble and pushed their full backs towards their own goal.
Lamela had a decent effort that just skidded just past the post with goalkeeper Alisson Becker beaten.
Lamela then grabbed a late consolation. He was involved in the move that won the corner. Lamela’s cross expertly picked out Danny Rose at the back post. He then converted the ensuing set piece to make the score a more respectable Tottenham 1-2 Liverpool.
The Reds defended the corner with a four-man zone across the six-yard box. However, Tottenham runners got in-between and disrupted them. The ball wound up with Erik Lamela at the back post.
Lamela chested and then coolly volleyed in to the far corner as both Daniel Sturridge and Virgil van Dijk stood off and turned their backs.
Lamela’s goal had got us back in to a game that we should’ve been well out of. Sadio Mane then fouled Son Heung-Min in the box for what should have been a penalty.
Danny Rose’s long throw was kept in the box by good Tottenham hustle. Erik Lamela then flicked the ball out to the arriving Son Heung-Min. Son jinked back inside and as he was set to shoot, Sadio Mane took his standing foot from underneath him.
Referee Michael Oliver was unmoved, pointing for a goal kick. Had VAR been in use, he would’ve seen exactly what had happened.
The goal kick brought the final whistle and the score remained Tottenham 1-2 Liverpool.
Tottenham 1-2 Liverpool overall
Tottenham had three problems here. The initial formation; the position of the full backs and poor turnovers when we were at our most vulnerable.
The main issue wasn’t that Tottenham played a diamond and bombed the full backs on, but that we didn’t change once we saw the self-destructive nature of the set up. Salah and Mane weren’t tracking Rose and Trippier and so we needed to adjust. We didn’t change and could’ve been burned for five or six goals had Liverpool’s attack been more clinical.
Final score: Tottenham 1-2 Liverpool.
MOTM: Roberto Firmino.