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Klopp should hand Nathaniel Phillips a start vs Tottenham Hotspur

Liverpool face Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on Wednesday evening in a top-of-the-table clash, where a win would see the Reds move top of the Premier League.

The Reds could be without Joel Matip, after the Cameroonian defender went off injured in the 1-1 draw against Fulham at the weekend and if he cannot play, Klopp should put his faith in Nathaniel Phillips.

The 23-year-old defender has impressed in both of his Premier League appearances this season, picking up solid ratings against both West Ham and Brighton, suggesting that he can be relied upon against Jose Mourinho’s side.

Whoever Klopp opts to play in defence will be in for an extremely tough match, considering the way both Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son have started the season for the North London club but Phillips’ no-nonsense physical style could see him get the better of the England captain on Wednesday.

Whilst Kane is perhaps best known for being a goalscorer, this season has seen him drop deeper where he has shown his superb passing range, having registered 10 assists already in the top-flight this season.

However, if Phillips can win the physical battle against Kane and limit his influence on the game, then it would give the Reds an excellent chance of winning Wednesday’s game.

If the Spurs striker isn’t given any space to work in by Phillips and co, then he’s much less likely to be able to play one of his trademark through balls to his South Korean teammate.

Should Phillips start if Matip isn't fit?

Yes

Yes

No

No

Liverpool are, of course, without Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, meaning that if Matip isn’t fit to play against Spurs, they won’t have a single senior centre-back available in their squad.

Fabinho has shown his class in that position since returning from injury but playing another player out of position in Matip’s potential absence could spell disaster for the Reds’ defence, and Klopp must trust Phillips to produce another strong display against the league leaders.

After his Premier League debut against West Ham, former Liverpool man Jamie Carragher was full of praise for the £70k per week man, saying:

“It was what he did aerially. What Fabinho and [Joe] Gomez lack is domination aerially, and when you play against some teams, not necessarily the top teams, but many teams will look to set pieces, direct balls, crosses into the box, second balls, and Liverpool didn’t deal with that at all against Sheffield United, and that’s what caused them big problems.

“But today, that header at the end from a corner, one of the last kicks of the game, to be the leader and make sure you get your head on it, normally that would be Van Dijk’s role. That was a vital header, and it won Liverpool the game really.

“I love the maturity he showed in the game.”

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1. Starting off easy, from which side did Liverpool sign Mane?

Therefore, considering that Phillips has done an excellent job in both of his Liverpool appearances this season, he should be the man to start at centre-back on Wednesday if Matip isn’t fit, and perhaps his aerial strength will prove vital if it can help him keep Kane quiet.

And, in other news… Forget Clarkson: Liverpool have the long-term successor to Jordan Henderson’s throne in teenage sensation…

Article title: Klopp should hand Nathaniel Phillips a start vs Tottenham Hotspur

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