This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Former Liverpool star Jason McAteer has predicted a difficult afternoon for Tammy Abraham on Sunday.
The Chelsea youngster has been in electric form of late, smashing in seven goals over his last three league fixtures, but McAteer feels he is not the kind of front man who will trouble Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip.
Speaking exclusively to Football FanCast, in partnership with GentingBet, the 48 year-old said: “Players of that quality (van Dijk and Matip), they kind of thrive on that kind of challenge.
“I always feel the problem for van Dijk and Matip is these smaller players, the likes of (Lorenzo) Insigne and (Dries) Mertens, these players that drift into areas that van Dijk and Matip don’t want to go into, they drag them out wide and they create space for runners.
“They’re a handful in and around the box, they’ve got quick feet, they can shift from left to right. They’re the players I feel cause problems for the likes of Matip and van Dijk.
“I really don’t see Abraham being too much of a problem. I don’t know whether it’s going to be Abraham’s afternoon, I hope I’m not proven wrong, he’ll go and score a hat-trick now!”
If Abraham were to score a hat-trick, it would take him to a truly ridiculous ten league goals just six games into the campaign. However, it’s hard to disagree with McAteer’s verdict on the Englishman’s clash with Liverpool’s towering centre-backs.
At 6 foot 4 and 6 foot 5 respectively, the Dutchman and Cameroonian win a combined 11.2 aerial duels per game in the league, so it’s hard to see Abraham’s 2.8 aerial wins per game serving him well on Sunday.
And McAteer’s concern about quick dribblers is spot on too – the likes of Lucas Moura, Leroy Sane and Lorenzo Insigne have troubled the Reds in recent times, yet taller attackers may struggle, as their strengths line up with the strengths of the defenders.
Abraham averages a measly 0.2 dribbles per game in the Premier League and for all his qualities he simply isn’t the kind of fleet-footed attacker that taller centre-backs typically fear.