Premier League Tactical Preview: Liverpool to drop points at Southampton

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp
Klopp's Liverpool could be in for a shock result on Friday night.

Alex Keble looks ahead to the 33rd round of Premier League games, predicting Liverpool's title challenge will take a hit at Southampton...

"On the counter, James Ward-Prowse and Nathan Redmond power through the centre of the pitch as dual number tens, which could prove effective given Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum, and James Milner all look leggy of late."

Saints' wing-backs & counters to dent Liverpool's title challenge

Southampton v Liverpool
Friday, 20:00
Live on Sky Sports Premier League

Liverpool continue to look stodgy in midfield while their front three are increasingly nervous, with full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson now their most potent attacking weapons. Given that Liverpool have been particularly hesitant on the road, and that Jurgen Klopp's recent conservatism means Adam Lallana is unlikely to start, Southampton have a good chance of taking points.

Ralph Hasenhuttl's 3-4-2-1 formation is very effective against Big Six clubs; well organised and tactically astute, his back three can manage Liverpool's front three while the wing-backs push on and get tight to Alexander-Arnold and Robertson, limiting their impact. Unlike Tottenham, whose wing-backs were pinned last weekend, Southampton's 3-4-2-1 becomes a flat 3-6-1 during sustained periods of pressure, meaning they will have the width in midfield to cover the visitors' full-backs.

On the counter, James Ward-Prowse and Nathan Redmond power through the centre of the pitch as dual number tens, which could prove effective given Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum, and James Milner all look leggy of late.

Everton's full-backs to continue Arsenal's poor away record

Everton v Arsenal
Sunday, 14:05
Live on Sky Sports Premier League

For arguably the first time this season, Everton's 2-0 victory over West Ham looked like a Marco Silva victory. Perhaps, finally, things are clicking: the one-touch passing in central midfield to suck the opposition inwards, the marauding full-backs to expose the space this creates, and the high press to keep the opponent penned in; Everton were actually following the Silva blueprint.

Silva profile 1280.jpg

Arsenal's away form (they've only beaten the bottom three plus Bournemouth and Newcastle on the road this season) means the Toffees will be faced with a side as tepid and meandering as West Ham were on Saturday. Consequently, the screening of Idrissa Gueye and Andre Gomes and the overlapping runs of Seamus Coleman and Lucas Digne can win Everton the three points.

The Gunners are easy to pierce in central areas when playing away from home, so the first part of this won't be a problem. The key battle is on the flanks, because Sead Kolasinac and Ainsley Maitland-Niles will likely be drawn into the midfield battle - leaving Nacho Monreal and Shkodran Mustafi to track Signe and Coleman. Neither Arsenal player has the positional awareness, acceleration, or speed to do so effectively.

How Capoue handles Jota to decide FA Cup semi-final

Watford v Wolves
Sunday, 16:00
Live on BT Sport 2

The tactical pattern of this match will likely be Watford possession and Wolves counters, with Javi Gracia's narrow formation ensuring a claustrophobic game at Wembley; Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves have key roles to play in a game that sees some of the best central midfielders in the country look to wrestle control. Watford's numerical advantage in this area of the pitch, plus Nuno Esperito Santo's desire to sit deep, means the Hornets will hold the majority of possession.

Nuno Santo Wolves 1280.jpg

However, for Watford to ensure this does not play into Wolves' hands they need to stop Diogo Jota, the striker who drops into the number ten role and launches counter-attacks for Santo's side. He was superb against Manchester United on Tuesday, regularly picking up the ball on Fred's blind side and feeding his striker partner Raul Jimenez.

The key battle in this game is between Jota and Capoue, who will be tasked with tracking the 22-year-old when Wolves win the ball and look to break quickly. The winner of their head-to-head will most likely be heading back to Wembley in May.

West Ham could frustrate Chelsea but Hudson-Odoi can make the difference

Chelsea v West Ham
Monday, 20:00
Live on Sky Sports Premier League

Chelsea's late victory at Cardiff City last weekend did nothing to paper over the cracks, and Maurizio Sarri's team still look bereft of confidence and out of ideas from a tactical perspective; their patterns are too predictable, which is why a deep-lying West Ham (back in a 4-1-4-1 after the disastrous 4-4-2 against Everton) can frustrate them on Monday.

Declan Rice will no doubt prevent Ross Barkley and Matteo Kovacic from creating chances, with Chelsea's poor away form making their midweek victory over Brighton fairly insignificant - except for the Callum Hudson-Odoi factor. The teenager was excellent on the right wing, assisting the opening goal and providing a directness that the club have lacked throughout the campaign.

Given the ease with which Richarlison burst past Manuel Lanzini at West Ham last weekend, there is danger on that side of the pitch; in an otherwise flat affair at the London Stadium, Hudson-Odoi can inject the energy needed to grab Chelsea the three points.

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