Connect with us


Tottenham v Liverpool: Three key areas that will decide vital match as Conte takes on Klopp in clash of tactics

JURGEN Klopp’s Liverpool travel to London on Sunday to take on Antonio Conte’s Tottenham Hotspur.

There is no margin for error today for the visitors.

Antonio Conte has led Tottenham into the last 16 of the Champions League
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is under pressure after inconsistent results

Having already fallen behind the rest of the pack in the race for the top four, the Reds are in desperate need to pick up three points to stay alive.

The hosts are undoubtedly the favourites in this bout and are sitting third, just five points behind league-leaders Arsenal.

However, with merely two wins in their last five matches in all competitions, Spurs have been far from consistent.

Spurs were a massive stumbling block for Liverpool last season in their hopes of pipping Manchester City to the league title.


A 2-2 and 1-1 draw in both matches cost the eventual runners-up four points and this weekend provides Tottenham with the chance to cause more damage to Klopp and his players by kicking them while they are down.

Liverpool have lost their last two games in the league, falling to both Nottingham Forest at the City Ground and Leeds United at Anfield in what were shock results.

Last Saturday’s 2-1 defeat against Jesse Marsch’s strugglers was arguably the most alarming result for the FA Cup champions. 

While Liverpool had been on poor form, Klopp’s men were still undefeated at Anfield this season and Virgil van Dijk had never lost at the famous ground in his entire spell with the club.

Both streaks ended on Saturday night.

This Sunday is yet another opportunity for Liverpool to grab an enormous three points to try and kick-start their campaign despite many attempts at doing so.

Meanwhile, Tottenham have the chance to potentially knock a rival club out of the race for the top four once and for all.

Both coaches will need to ensure that their tactics are effective in this clash of the titans to get one over on their counterpart.

Here are three strategic areas where the game could be won and lost between Spurs and Liverpool.

Roberto Firmino is Liverpool’s top scorer in the Premier League this season

Klopp’s striker dilemma

Having splurged £85million on the Uruguayan in the summer, Liverpool ignored the glaring lack of squad depth in the middle of the park, putting their eggs in the one basket that Darwin Nunez would be an instant hit.

Despite scoring on his competitive debut in the FA Charity Shield against Man City and then his first Premier League match against Fulham, Nunez didn’t exactly hit the ground running with the Reds.

After bagging Liverpool’s first goal in the 2-2 draw at Craven Cottage on the opening weekend, the 23-year-old didn’t score again for the club for more than two months.

However, the former Benfica man has begun to pick up some form, especially in the Champions League which bodes well for Liverpool for the rest of the season as well as Uruguay ahead of the World Cup in less than three weeks.

Darwin Nunez likes to drop deep to receive the ball

Nonetheless, Klopp has a massive decision on his hands ahead of this weekend’s clash against Spurs.

While Nunez is in decent form, the German coach hasn’t been afraid to drop his most expensive signing to the bench.

Nunez has not been guaranteed a place in the starting lineup for Liverpool due to the excellent form of Roberto Firmino whom many expected to take a backseat in the team to make way for the new arrival.

This was evident on Tuesday night in the Reds’ UEFA Champions League matchup against Napoli.

Nunez eventually scored the second goal of Liverpool’s 2-0 win but dropped to the bench after a poor display on Saturday when Leeds came to town.

Interestingly, Firmino has scored more goals for Liverpool this season in all competitions and is proving that he is much more potent up top even though he has never been regarded as an out-and-out number ‘9’.

It will be interesting to see who from the pair of strikers will start up front for the Reds at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium.

Both players bring a wholly different skillset. Nunez excels at running in behind opposition backlines which was seen from his goal against Arsenal a few weeks back. 

Meanwhile, Firmino is much better at dropping deeper and dragging opposition defenders out of position.

Firmino has received the ball between the lines against Notts Forest, dragging the centre-back out of position to press him from behind. This has left space for Salah to run into. The pass didn’t come off in the end, but the intent was there from the Brazilian

This could be an important skillset to use against Tottenham who deploy a compact 5-4-1 low block.

Having a technically gifted centre-forward like Firmino pulling the Spurs centre-backs out of the defensive line could be the key to creating space for Salah to run into or whomever else plays in the front three.

There is also the possibility that Klopp plays both Nunez and Firmino together in a 4-2-3-1 shape which has been done by the manager a few times this season, including in the Leeds match last Saturday.

However, doing so could leave the visitors open on the break which is where Spurs specialise under Conte.

Dealing with the counterattack

When it comes to attacking play, there are two vital areas that Tottenham have excelled this season more than anywhere else.

Firstly, no side have scored more goals from set-pieces than Spurs, and secondly, the North Londoners are electric in transition.

Harry Kane has most Premier League goals for Spurs this season

It is rather fallacious to label Conte as a defensive manager.

His teams are normally very solid out of possession but have a clear gameplan when the ball is recovered.

The Italian doesn’t instruct his players to cede possession just to keep clean sheets, there is also an obvious attacking intent behind doing so.

Spurs are one of the best counterattacking sides in the Premier League right now and indeed in world football.

Their ability to lure teams into higher areas of the pitch before devouring them on the counterattack can be blissful.

The Lilywhites do this by primarily sitting in a low defensive block, one which is extremely compact between the lines to prevent the opposition from being able to reach players in the central areas.

Spurs have denied Marseille any space between the lines by setting themselves up securely in a 5-4-1 low block. The French giants attempt an over the top pass, but it’s easily dealt with in the end.

Nevertheless, Tottenham are not passive in this phase.

Conte wants his players to be active, constantly hunting down the ball and pressurising opponents to try and regain possession.

This makes it incredibly difficult for opponents to play against as there is little time for them to make decisions about where to pass the ball before a Spurs player is hassling them and looking to win it back.

Once possession is won, the counterattack begins.

The frontline has plenty of speed and coordination with players running in behind as soon as the ball is at the foot of a Spurs man.

Spurs finished off Marseille in the dying moments of Tuesday’s game to top the Champions League group after hitting the Ligue 1 side on the counterattack, breaking quickly from their low block to get bodies forward.

Liverpool’s attacking set-up could play into Spurs’ hands in this game.

Klopp wants his players to park themselves in the opposition’s half of the field and keep them there in order to sustain attacks.

Once possession is lost, the Merseyside club counterpress in numbers to win the ball back as quickly as possible to restart their attack all over again.

To do this, the fullbacks get extremely high up the pitch and act as wingers at times, providing crosses from the flanks in abundance.

However, this is a risky approach as, when Liverpool’s counterpressing is broken, the centre-backs can be exposed.

Arsenal took advantage of the space left beside Liverpool’s centre-backs during transitions as the fullbacks were positioned so high and couldn’t get back in time, leaving the defensive structure imbalance and disorganised.

Spurs will be looking to get down the sides of the central defenders constantly throughout this matchup, using the pace and power of their forward line to exploit Liverpool’s weaknesses.

Klopp will be hoping that the players can stop the counterattacks at their source through excellent counterpressing but the visitors could be in trouble if Spurs continuously manage to escape this pressure.

Spurs stepping up

Tottenham Hotspur’s biggest downfall in this match will be if they fail to stop crosses into the box from Liverpool’s fullbacks.

Kieffer Moore terrorised Conte’s defence last weekend as Spurs failed to deal with the aerial prowess of the Welshman who converted twice in the match, with one coming from a direct cross into the penalty area.

Liverpool don’t possess a player with the aerial threat of Moore who stands at 6ft 5, but Klopp does have wide defenders who can whip a ball into the box with such speed and precision that the height of the intended target stops mattering.

Over the years, the Premier League has seen Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Firmino getting on the end of crosses from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson while not boasting massive frames.

Alexander-Arnold in particular has been a menace from the right flank this season.

There have been a plethora of criticisms thrown in the Englishman’s direction but his creativity on the wing is second-to-none.

Alexander-Arnold likes to play a high number of crosses into the bx

Alexander-Arnold positions himself outside the area in the halfspace between the right flank and the central area.

Holding such a deep position buys him time to take a touch and float one to the back post for a teammate to attack.

Liverpool’s players routinely pin the opposition backline deeper in order to facilitate this.

Essentially, players will make runs in behind the opponent’s low defensive block, which in turn causes the block to drop even deeper towards their own goal.

From there, the Reds quickly play the ball to Alexander-Arnold who is in space and can wreak havoc at the edge of the area.

Leeds are pinned inside their own area and can’t get out to close Trent down in time, allowing him time and space to loft a ball to the back-stick. Ultimately, Liverpool scored from this move.

Tottenham will need to be astute when defending in their deep block.

When the ball is squared to Alexander-Arnold or Robertson, Spurs must get out as quickly as possible to stop the cross before it’s played back into the box in an attempt to cut the supply off from the source.

This isn’t a particularly new observation.

Anyone who has glanced at a Liverpool game for the past five years under Klopp could tell you that the majority of the team’s chance creation comes through their fullbacks.

Nonetheless, the reason it is relevant for Spurs is because Conte’s men have had organisational issues when stepping up from deep.

It is important when defending in a low block that the team steps up as a unit after every backwards pass to prevent themselves from being pinned inside their own box.

A prime example of Spurs’ lack of organisation when stepping up. The team were sitting in a low block, denying Arsenal space. Their North London rivals quickly squared the ball out to Thomas Partey who was able to bend into the top corner under no pressure.

While Spurs are quite good in this area of the pitch when defending, the team have struggled to push up the pitch together and close down players in similar positions to where Alexander-Arnold will certainly be this weekend.

So what does this all mean?

A defeat for Spurs today would once again play into the narrative that they lose their nerve against the best sides.

So far this season, Manchester United, Arsenal, Newcastle United and Chelsea have all taken points off Tottenham and Liverpool could add insult to injury on Sunday.

However, a loss wouldn’t be the end of the world for Spurs.

They can afford to lose without causing too much damage but the same cannot be said for the visitors.

Jurgen Klopp’s side need to pick up three points today.

Even a draw will not be enough, keeping the Carabao Cup holders in a dire position heading into the impending World Cup break.

In fact, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer managed to win more points in his first twelve league matches last season than Liverpool have done in the 2022/23 campaign.

We all know how the Solskjaer fiasco ended.

Things need to change for Liverpool, and change fast.

The Total Football Analysis World Cup Preview Magazine has everything you need to know tactically about every side in Qatar

Click to comment

Leave a Reply


Must See


More in Football