Liverpool at home (well, Wembley) on Sunday afternoon.
Both sides will be delighted with their work in midweek. Our draw in Madrid gives us a bit of breathing space in our group whilst Liverpool’s record breaking victory in Slovenia helps them get their Moneybags League campaign back on track after a couple of draws.
Our record against Liverpool has not been the best during the last few years, in particular we have found the swarming form of the pressing game used by Klopp difficult to cope with. A slightly fortunate draw at WHL last season was followed by a deserved defeat at Anfield in January when Sadio Mane gave Ben Davies a hard time. It was one of our weakest performances of the season.
That was then though and even though this is now, left back may once again prove a problem position. It’s generally agreed that Davies has had an excellent season thus far so it’s extremely fortunate for Danny Rose that the Welshman has been unwell and unavailable at just the time he is back and approaching match fitness. His cameo at left half on Tuesday was full of gamesmanship and muscularity but it’s a reminder of what we’ve been missing. Pochettino will be licking his lips at the thought of soon having all four of his first choice full backs fit and ready. There will be more rotation than in a merry-go-round factory.
The scrappy win over Bournemouth last weekend at least stopped people talking about the hoodoo for a bit but a victory on Sunday would put it to bed for good.
So how do we beat Liverpool? Not easily. Their disruptive style, as mentioned above, is one we struggle against. Poch’s insistence on the defenders playing out from the back (a policy largely abandoned during the second half in Madrid) has led to all sorts of problems previously against the thankfully injured and absent Mane. Their high energy midfield puts Dier, Toby et al under pressure and we haven’t looked like finding a way around it. So what will Pochettino do?
As so often of late his tactics will be limited by his options. Dembélé apparently has had another set back, Wanyama is unlikely to be thrown straight back in, though you never know, leaving Dier, Winks and Sissoko as the options in the middle making it tough for us to assert enough authority to allow Eriksen, Dele and Harry to do their stuff.
Better men than I have pondered the model response to a load of pestering speedsters swarming around you; hoof it over the top of them, suck ’em in and play it around them, do your besters to match up the pesters; I suspect our best chance lays with Harry. Kane not Winks. If he does what he does best, causes problems and makes the most of any opportunities that fall his way we’ll be fine. Dele will want to be back amongst it given that he missed out in the Bernabeu but perhaps most of all, the knowledge that we can achieve results without getting the amount of possession we are used to will give us confidence no matter how much Coutinho, Henderson, Can and Salah bother us.
For the first time in a while we are odds against to win. However no matter their plus points they have won only 2 of their last 10 games. We’re a better team than them. Three points here we come.
Andre Marriner is the ref.
Have something to tell us about this article?