An Interview with Caislin Boyle @cashboyle, talking about the game against Tottenham on Sunday.
What do you think the line up will be at Wembley on Sunday?
I believe Klopp will revert to what he considers to be his strongest 11 at this time, notwithstanding the excellent performance on Tuesday. The importance of the game is evident, & Klopp will not want to tamper
with a formula he deems most likely to win Liverpool the game. The twoplayers whose places could come under scrutiny are Joe Gomez & Jordan Henderson. The goal-scoring exploits of Trent Alexander-Arnold & hisoverall stronger attacking play has him figuratively breathing down Gomez’ neck, while James Milner put in what many deemed a man of the match performance midweek, boasting 93% passing accuracy & notching one assist. Equally intriguing was the positive impact Milner’s inclusion had on Emre Can, who occupied Henderson’s role at the base of midfield.
Nonetheless, I believe Klopp will restore Gomez & Henderson to the side; the former because of his showing against Manchester United and overall defensive stability, the latter because of his athleticism, drive & status as captain. The rest of the first 11 picks itself, with the front 3 ready to don their shooting boots after scoring 5 goals between them on Tuesday night. Defensively the renessaince of Alberto Moreno warrants his inclusion, with the statistically strongest centre-back partnership completing the defence. Emre Can, Gini Wijnaldum and Simon Mingolet will all play (subject to injuries).
Which Spurs players should Liverpool be aware of on Sunday?
The easy answer is to say Harry Kane because of his scintillating form for club & country. He will undoubtedly pose a threat, however, Tottenham are one of the best teams in the league & that is attributable to a number of players. Christian Eriksen is an excellent player, going about his business quietly, and has scored 6 goals in 13 appearances (for club and country) this season. Dele Alli will be rested after not playing mid-week against Real Madrid. His form has come under question this season, but a midfield containing Alli, Eriksen & Harry Winks (more on him later) are more than capable of matching the Liverpool midfield.
Liverpool should too be aware of Spurs’ defensive prowess, with Spurs’keeping the joint second highest number of clean sheets this season.Particularly impressive is how Davinson Sanchez has slotted into analready accomplished defence.
How do you see this game playing out tactically?
I think Liverpool will play a 4-3-3 formation as they did against Maribor, but with different personnel. I would have predicted Tottenham to play a 3-4-2-1 like they did against Chelsea at home earlier this season, but the injury to Ben Davies means they will most likely play a 3-5-1-1 (with Alli returning to the side & Jan Vertonghen as a conventional left back).
Unlike against Maribor, the Liverpool central defenders will have a world class striker to shackle. That will be their main job, as the full backs attempt to strike the balance between attack & stopping the Spurs full backs bombing forward. Liverpool will have to focus more on stopping Spurs’ attacks down the right side, whether Kieran Trippier or Serge Aurier plays. That said, Spurs are capable of attacking from both full back positions.
In terms of the midfield, Henderson will revert to the base with Wijnaldum & Can further forward. I am skeptical of this and believe that Can is the better player at the base of the midfield. The midfield is an area that worries me, especially after Winks’ showing against Madrid. He attempted the most passes in that game, and given the freedom to do so again will evitably lead to chances for Spurs. He came deep in that game to start attacks, so Wijnaldum and Can will be tasked with stemming his creativity from further up the pitch. Henderson’s role at the base will be to do the same for Christian Eriksen and Alli (alongside the central defenders).
The front three will play as they always play; interchanging positions & using their speed and quickness of thought to bamboozle the Spurs back three of Sanchez, Eric Dier & Toby Alderweireld.
If the Liverpool midfield can dominate, controlling the play of Alli, Eriksen & Winks that will surely put the result in favour of the Reds. Doing that will starve Kane of service, which is the best way to stop this Spurs side. Otherwise the defence will have to be on their game to thwart Kane on the occasions he does get the ball to feet, with the full backs ensuring that the threat from the flanks is minimised. It is far too simplistic to say that to stop Kane receiving the ball is to stop Spurs, but to cut off the supply line will go a long way given how crucial he is to all their offensive play.
Who out of the two teams had the better result in the CL in terms of confidence moving forward?
I would say Liverpool. There is a clear gulf between the respective opposition the teams faced. However, against Maribor Liverpool rectified the exact issue that has accompanied their recent struggles; failing to take chances. Undoubtedly Spurs will be bouyed by holding last season’s Champion League winners to a draw, however, Spurs’ defensive abilities have not come under question this season. Also, don’t forget, Real Madrid’s home record isn’t great at the moment (they’ve failed to win all three of their home games in La Liga this season). So overall I would say Liverpool.
Why do you think Spurs have struggled at Wembley since they have had to play their games there?
It is hard to say. There is a lot of talk about a hoodoo and so on, but that seems nonsensical to me. Part of the reasoning is that White Hart Lane was such a fortress that no other stadium was going to positively compare. They ended last season unbeaten at White Hart Lane so their record at Wembley could only really go one way. Beyond that, Wembley is much larger than White Hart Lane (measuring 7,245 square metres vs 6,700 square metres). This impacts Spurs; they have to cover more space which slows down their play. This allows the opposition to set up well defensively, prefectly demonstrated by Swansea earlier this season.
What is your score prediction & why?
I predict a 2-1 win to Liverpool. This prediction is subject to Klopp playing the best lineup and making subs (if required) earlier. Detractors will say that the Maribor result means little, but the nature of the win was so emphatic that its psychological impact will be visible. There is no doubt Liverpool have been profligate this season, with their shot conversion down 5.9% so far in the Premier League (compared to last season). In previous games it has been clear that the players are acutely aware of this failing; the result on Tuesday should relieve the pressure & allow the attacking talent to flourish. That said, Tottenham will score. Two clean sheets in a row is encouraging, but Harry Kane & co are too strong a unit not to put at least one past Mignolet. I predict a tense finish.