The Big Match Tactical View: Tottenham v Liverpool

Mohamed Salah bagged two in midweek, and is Liverpool's key man here
Mohamed Salah bagged two in midweek, and is Liverpool's key man here
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Two of the Premier League big boys meet at Wembley - Michael Cox looks at the tactics and Alan Thompson looks at the betting...

"Mohamed Salah will become Liverpool’s chief attacking threat in behind from the right flank"

Tottenham v Liverpool
Sunday, 16:00
Live on Sky Sports Main Event

Match Odds: Tottenham [2.26], Liverpool [3.5], The Draw [3.7].

Pressing issues

There are no Premier League managers who value pressing as highly as Mauricio Pochettino and Jurgen Klopp - and this contest is likely to be a fast-based battle based largely upon disturbing the opposition's passing and winning the ball high.

That was the case for Klopp's first game in English football, a trip to White Hart Lane two years ago, which finished 0-0 - and the next two meetings between these bosses also ended in draws. Last time Liverpool triumphed with a 2-0 win at Anfield thanks to two goals from the brilliant Sadio Mane - but with him out injured for this one, Liverpool are without their most dangerous attacker.

In his absence, Klopp has relatively few selection decisions here. Mohamed Salah will become Liverpool's chief attacking threat in behind from the right flank, and might be able to play his favoured counter-attacking gameplan here. Roberto Firmino will lead the line with Coutinho dropping from the left into deeper positions - against Manchester United last weekend he tended to become too involved in the midfield play, leaving Liverpool undermanned in the final third.

Jordan Henderson should return from a midweek rest to play the holding role, with Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum given more license to break forward. Henderson has been poor this season, however, and may struggle against the threat of both Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli.

Liverpool's defence has improved

Liverpool's backline looked excellent against Manchester United last weekend, with Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez particularly impressive. Gomez and Alberto Moreno will be tempted forward to engage in battles with Spurs' wing-backs, but must be careful of leaving Lovren and Joel Matip with too much space to cover against the movement of Harry Kane and the runs of Alli.

Pochettino has no new major injury problems - Victor Wanyama, Mousa Dembele and Erik Lamela are all out injured, so this should be relatively similar to the side that earned a point away at Real Madrid in midweek, with the notable exception that Fernando Llorente is unlikely to start.

Kane will be supported by Eriksen and Alli behind, while in midfield Harry Winks deserves to continue after his fine showing at the Bernabeu. With Eric Dier providing the physicality in the centre, Winks will be charged with distributing the ball out wide. He showed tremendous composure in midweek, particularly when closed down quickly, and his ability to receive the ball when pressed in tight situations will be crucial.

Tottenham back four?

This all assumes Pochettino switches to a back three - but he could choose to play with a four, against Liverpool's front trio. This would probably involve Davinson Sanchez dropping out, Serge Aurier playing at right-back and Ben Davies at left-back. Moussa Sissoko would probably be asked to play on the right, tracking the runs of Alberto Moreno.

The managers will be looking at different areas as key battlegrounds. Liverpool will look to attack directly, particularly through Salah down the right, and may sit deeper than usual before playing on the counter. Spurs will hope to get the ball into positions between the lines more regularly, with Eriksen's clever drifts into that zone particularly crucial here.

This feels like it will be an evenly-balanced game, with Spurs likely to shade possession and having extra penalty box threat. But this game seems to work perfectly for Salah on the break, and therefore my sole bet will be backing him to open the scoring at [8.0]

Recommended Bet
Back Mohamed Salah to score first at [8.0]

The Betfair Trader's View - Alan Thompson

There should be a good atmosphere at Tottenham, having taken a point from Real Madrid midweek and getting their first Wembley league win against Bournemouth last week. They will be looking to make it back-to-back home wins and keep tabs with the two Manchester clubs at the top of the table.

Liverpool had their own superb midweek win in Slovenia, but this is a big test for them and currently four points behind their opponents they won’t want to lose anymore ground against a top four rival. The Reds have a great recent record against their opponents, they are unbeaten in their last four visits to White Hart Lane, registering two draws and two victories and Spurs have only scored once in those four games.

The goals markets look a bit too short to me, Over 2.5 Goals is trading around [1.75], I am not convinced that price is justified and would be more of a layer than a backer if playing in the goals market. I had Spurs around [2.1] favourites for this fixture so they look to offer a little bit of value in the Match Odds market at around [2.28] but rather than back them outright, I would rather take a chance on backing them in another market.

Wembley has only seen one first half goal this season (Chelsea led 1-0) and I think this could be another tight opening half. I will be looking to back Draw/Tottenham in the Half Time/Full Time market but I won’t be taking anything less than [6.0].

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