We have gotten ourselves back to winning ways after beating Huddersfield 3-0, but before that game we lost to West Brom and Swansea, both by the bottom of the table at the time of writing. We can always look at the victory over Manchester City and tell ourselves that we have the ability to beat the best, but we can also lose against teams in the relegation zone. Although we are third in the league, we are tied with Chelsea and only two points ahead of Tottenham, so every game matters. Therefore, I believe our game this Sunday against Tottenham is a must win. Clyne is out for the game, while Bogdan, Lallana, and Klavan are day to day.
Tottenham have switched between a back three and a back four based on who they are playing. Pochettino knows that he has the personnel for both, and is not afraid to switch it up in the middle of a game. They love to play risky in the attack because they are so confident in their counter press. The obvious threat up front is Harry Kane, and Eriksen is having a fine season as well. We may see new signing Lucas Moura get some playing time, who has tremendous speed.
For Liverpool, I think a 4-3-3 of Karius; Robertson, Lovren, VVD, Gomez; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain; and Mane, Firmino and Salah to finish it off up top is the way to go. Almost every game at this point is a must win so we may have to rotate less than we would like.
Tottenham will surely attempt to use Alli and Kane’s aerial prowess by sending in crosses from half-spaces and out wide, so we must force play down the middle and attempt to win the ball there. Occupying wide positions to start out defensively should funnel the opponents attack down the middle, and that is when we close in from all angles. A midfielder who is not so good with the ball like Wanyama may be the ideal target to swarm. If they play with three at the back, it may be difficult to counter narrowly, so having Salah and Mane in wide positions should make it easier. Plus, it could potentially keep the Tottenham fullbacks in high alert and they may lose the width they usually get from them when they attack because they will have to worry about our speed out wide instead.
Offensively, we may need runs from our midfield to occupy their center backs, and therefore leave Mane and Salah in more isolated positions. This is where Wijnaldum and especially the Ox come in. Make penetrating runs from deep and force their (potentially) three defenders to decide whether to follow or not. Assuming they do, our wingers will have 1v1 opportunities. The cutback cross may also be ideal for this encounter if Tottenham do play with three at the back. Three center backs defending a ball played in across the six will make it hard for us to capitalize on, so a ball from the touchline played back towards the penalty spot will avoid those center backs and provide opportunities for those making runs in late. These runs by the 18 yard box also allows us to stifle any counterattacks because we have numbers by the edge of the box, where most counters originate.
I expect a thrilling encounter with multiple goals from both teams. I think it will be exciting for the fans of both teams and for the neutrals.