Liverpool host Tottenham this weekend in what promises to be a great watch.
There is plenty riding on the clash in terms of the race for both the Premier League title and the top-four, however, the stakes could have been much higher for the visitors – Spurs have recently dropped out of the title race thanks to some disappointing results and are now battling for the top four instead of competing with the Reds and Manchester City for the greatest prize of all.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side slumped to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Southampton last time out – an outcome that compounds an awful month in the domestic competition that has also seen them lose to Burnley and Chelsea.
It is vital that Spurs get back to winning ways as soon as possible – considering the steamrolling form of Manchester United and bitter rivals Arsenal – if they are to achieve the third place finish that their standards over the course of the season have justified.
A trip north to Anfield represents a monumental challenge for the Lilywhites, but Pochettino can mastermind a rare victory by doing these three things…
Pochettino has been flirting with all kinds of formations this season and particularly in recent weeks, as the Argentine hunts for a winning formula.
The former Southampton boss went with a 3-4-1-2 against Arsenal and Burnley – that yielded little to no success – and opted for a diamond 4-1-2-1-2 in the loss to his former club. Perhaps a return to the basics is for the best – that would mean Spurs line up in 4-2-3-1 against the Merseysiders.
Going narrow is surely a no-go as it would require support on the wings from the full-backs, who could be caught too high up the pitch if Liverpool win the ball back in their typical fashion and release Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane; playing with wide midfielders who offer that outlet will naturally reduce the burden on the full-backs.
The Brazilian was sensational in the early stages of the season and was lethal up front, however he wasn’t quite at it at St Mary’s Stadium last time out and should return to his comfort zone on the wing.
The former PSG man took on zero shots in his 72 minute showing against the Saints and was justly replaced by Heung-min Son, although he did complete the most dribbles on the pitch (4), except for Kyle Walker-Peters (5).
This ability to take his man on will be crucial down the wings, where the damage will likely be done by both sides – Mane is in sensational form, while Son and Moura can cause problems.
While Liverpool’s front-three rightfully steal the headlines most weeks, Fabinho’s consistent showings at the base of midfield have made him a shoe-in for Jurgen Klopp.
The all-action Brazilian showed he has an eye for a pass against Manchester United when he chipped the ball over the defence into Mane’s path and his secret playmaking skills could be a threat if Spurs are otherwise occupied.
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The former Monaco man connects all the dots in midfield and is fast-becoming one of their most important players – Pochettino must resurrect his game-plan for the 3-1 victory over Chelsea in November, in which he instructed Alli to shut down Jorginho and get the ball out wide as soon as possible, this weekend.
Fabinho is Liverpool’s Jorginho – albeit with more of a physical and defensive presence – and it’s crucial that Spurs don’t let him dominate their midfield in the way he has others’ in recent weeks.