CHRIS SUTTON: Jurgen Klopp’s heavy metal football meets Jose Mourinho’s mute button… Tottenham’s practical approach has taken them to the top and Liverpool’s makeshift defence must be ready for the counter attack
- Anfield will witness a battle between two opposite styles of play on Wednesday
- Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side will keep the ball and try to be creative with it
- While Jose Mourinho’s Spurs will build a wall at the back and look to counter
- Tottenham beat Manchester City 2-0 with just 34 per cent possession
Anfield will witness a battle between two opposite styles of play tonight. Jurgen Klopp will field his heavy metal football, and Jose Mourinho will hit the mute button. Liverpool will keep the ball and try to be creative with it. Tottenham will build a wall at the back and look to counter.
Some may say that is negative of Mourinho, but it is also practical. It’s what’s taken them to the top of the Premier League, and saw them beat Manchester City 2-0 with 34 per cent possession. Both goals in that game (see graphics below) tell us what Tottenham could do to Liverpool.
The first saw Harry Kane drop into a pocket of space. City’s centre backs foolishly followed him and left Son Heung-min with enough room to break behind and score. The second saw Tottenham counter in numbers and Giovani Lo Celso found the net. That is what Liverpool need to be wary of.
Jurgen Klopp will field heavy metal football with likes of Mohamed Salah (L) and Sadio Mane
Tottenham will build a wall at back and look to counter with Harry Kane (L) and Son Heung-min
Tottenham have produced the fewest crosses in the Premier League this season. That is partly because Mourinho wants his full backs to do their defensive duties rather than fly forward, like Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson do for Klopp.
When Liverpool attack, they have Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, but also Alexander-Arnold and Robertson. Mourinho won’t want his defence to be overloaded, so we can expect Tottenham to set up with a back five out of possession. In recent games, Moussa Sissoko has dropped 10 yards from the midfield into the defence. If Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg joins him, we could see a back six.
Salah and Mane like drifting inside, into that space between the centre back and full back. But if Sissoko or Hojbjerg is there, it will be congested and Klopp will have to find another way.
Spurs beat Man City 2-0 last month with similar tactics and had just 34 per cent possession
That may leave Tottenham light in midfield but, in Tanguy Ndombele, Mourinho has a player who runs his socks off. Ndombele hasn’t completed 90 minutes in nine starts this season, possibly because he is so knackered after an hour of hounding the opposition!
Against City, Tottenham were narrow and compact, forcing their opponents out wide. They were happy to let City put in cross after cross, confident Eric Dier and Toby Alderweireld could handle those balls into the box. That game saw City produce their most crosses in a match this season.
When Tottenham won possession, they instantly looked at how they could turn a defensive situation into an attacking one. That is where the movement of Kane, Son and Steven Bergwijn becomes so vital. Liverpool’s makeshift defence have to be alert and realise the dangers that lie behind their high line. One ball over the top and it could be curtains.
That’s how I expect the game will play out. If Mourinho rocks up at Anfield and springs a surprise by playing expansive football, I’ll eat my hat!
MY PREDICTION: 1-1
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