International breaks have been scary in the past for Liverpool, haven’t they? But this one will not affect us too much barring from the Lallana hiccup. Here are my thoughts on our upcoming fixture against Spurs and how to beat them.
The international break hasn’t hit us hard but it has hit Tottenham pretty bad. Injuries to Dele Alli and Hugo Lloris have come up at very crucial stage for Spurs. Hamstring injury to Alli and Thigh injury to Lloris are going to keep them out of the crunch fixture at Wembley. Liverpool’s memories of Wembley from last season haunted them throughout the campaign last year. It was arguably Liverpool’s worst defensive performance last year. Liverpool will definitely want to erase those memories with convincing performance coming this Saturday.
Dele Alli who scored last year in this fixture at Wembley will be out but his place will be taken by no less talented Son Heung-Min who returns to North London with Asian Games Gold Medal. But even with much more pace than Alli, Son lacks at creative powers than Alli. It will be challenge for Pochettino to play Son , Kane and Lucas Moura together. Not only this has not been done in the past but also all three of them prefer a Striker’s position. Only Lucas Moura has played as a winger before. In my opinion Moura and Son’s pace won’t be a problem for Liverpool’s defenders as all of them either have a great speed or a technique and vision to counter that. In place of injured Lloris the Dutchman Vorm will deputise for Spurs. Again there is surely a little drop in quality where Liverpool should try to capitalize. Because of new goalkeeper there will be communication problem in the back line as well as quality of distribution will not be the best which might help Liverpool to gain back the possession.
The Golden Boot winner in WC Russia 2018, Harry Kane, hasn’t hit the ground running after the summer for England or Spurs. A tiny little drop in his form will definitely be a thing of concern in Spurs’ camp. His lack of form was compensated by Premier League Player of the Month Lucas Moura. But in game against Watford both of them couldn’t open their accounts and that cost spurs 3 points. Both of Kane and Moura combined only 3 shots in the whole game. The hold up play was not great too. The key behind this problem was, Watford managed to keep the ball in middle of the pitch 60% of the time. So even with Kane dropping deep did not help spurs. This will be very important for Liverpool to keep the ball in the midfield and with the deadly front three. Winning the ball back as soon as possible and with few touches sending it to Mane , Salah and Firmino will not only help us attack more but will also keep the Spurs’ full backs pinned back. This will result in isolation of their attack from midfield.
Learning from Spurs’ loss at Watford, set plays were the key to Spurs’ downfall. Keeping that in mind Liverpool should try to make the most of every free kick and corner. Specialists like Milner and Trent Alexander-Arnold should bring their A game to Wembley this Saturday. But on the other side conceding the fewest set plays will help our cause. Trippier and Eriksen are deadly with their techniques as well. Especially Kieran Trippier has increased his accuracy immensely. I think Liverpool have more dynamic midfield than Spurs at the current stage. With absence of Alli Liverpool should manage to win the most of their midfield battles. Naby Keita is again going to be extremely crucial for Liverpool as against Leicester City it was evident. If Jurgen Klopp decides to play possession game then he will definitely go with midfield of Keita, Milner and Henderson.
After so many seasons it looks like our back 5 is sorted for sure. Gomez and Van Dijk complement each other so well. With Robertson given captaincy for Scotland will only bring more and more maturity in his game. Having leaders like VVD and Robertson is going to be very successful for Liverpool. Alisson has had his embarrassing moment in the last game which will certainly make him more responsible. In this game our defense should try and contribute in the goals as well to lower the burden on our attackers. Set piece goals not only give you upper hand but brings that calmness in the whole team which generates better decisions on the pitch.
Finally the holy trinity! Salah was exceptional for Egypt in their absolute bashing of Niger bagging 2 goals and 2 assists. Firmino also found the back of the net once for Brazil. Mane has 4 in 4 in premier league till now. Looking at the bench which has to be ready to contribute at any point of time because of very difficult fixtures which will come thick and fast, Shaqiri had a good outing with Switzerland in their 6-0 win over Iceland. He manged a goal and a assist. He was the best player on the pitch. But against England he could not do much and was subbed off 10 minutes before full time. His set piece expertise will be crucial for Liverpool in the dying moments of the game.
Let’s hope whatever formation or tactics we come out with we will start this crucial and difficult period with a big win against potential title chasers.