There are currently four unbeaten sides in the Premier League. Two of them are Liverpool and Tottenham, and they play each other on Saturday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Two sides that are making positive strides after a disappointing last season – for Spurs, a complete rebuild under Ange Postecoglou and for Liverpool, what Jurgen Klopp likes to describe as “Liverpool Reloaded.” It will be a match-up that will provide exciting attacking football. The German manager will seemingly have his ideas on how to limit the new-found Spurs hysteria around “Ange-Ball.”
Liverpool’s Tactics That Can Trouble Tottenham’s ‘Ange-Ball’ System
A vital part of the North London derby clash was the overlaps that Arsenal provided down both wings. It played a crucial part in the first goal as Ben White’s overlap allowed Bukayo Saka to cut inside into space before taking on his shot, which ultimately took a heavy deflection. It meant that the Lilywhites fullbacks were under constant stress at times defending Saka and Martinelli on the touchline, having to call for support as Arsenal overloaded the wings.
The Reds can pose a similar threat down the wings. Their attacking fluidity and dynamism have been vital to their new-look side. It has been refreshing to see such versatility in attacking patterns. During Saturday’s clash – expect Dominik Szoboszlai and Curtis Jones to be try and dominate the midfield.
The Liverpool wingers will be running at the North London side’s full-backs with the support of overlaps, much like Arsenal. It is a lot to deal with. Without constant communication and organisation, particularly in transitional situations – Spurs could struggle with the fluidity that the six-time Champions League winners pose.
Watch: Jurgen Klopp NEEDS Liverpool to Do This to Succeed
Liverpool Transitional Threat
Postecoglu would have noticed in the game against their North London rivals how disorganised and frantic his side were when they turned the ball over and asked to defend in transition. Their defensive midfield of Bissouma and Sarr were caught out of position, with their highly attacking full-backs leaving space, which was open to exploitation by Arsenal. The Gunners certainly enjoyed positive moments in transition as the lack of organisation and structure from transitioning from losing the ball into a settled defence meant there was no effective counter-press, nullifying their ability to regain the ball and stop Arsenal from exploiting the spaces they had left.
Coincidentally, at the same time as the North London Derby, at Anfield, the Reds perhaps played some of their best transitional football of the season. On paper, there is no doubt the Liverpool attack is deadly in transition – great ball carriers in Curtis Jones and their new-found Hungarian sensation, pacey wingers and a striker in Darwin Nunez who thrives off running in behind space. They are a team that thrives off direct play.
Pressing Tottenham and Defending Their Direct Transitional Play
Spurs two biggest tests have come against Manchester United and Arsenal. Both sides adopt a pretty stringent man-marking pressing structure. In both those clashes, the 2019 Champions League finalists had trouble in their build-up play – they were boxed in and resorted to long balls to their isolated wingers or strikers, which wasn’t a sustainable approach.
However, it will perhaps be the most aggressive and energetic press that Tottenham will have faced to date under their new manager. A key facet of this clash will be how successful their build-up phase will be.
Under their new manager, the Lilywhites have displayed great systemic versatility. If their build-up play is off the ball at times, they look to thrive in transition.
A key match-up in this fixture will be how Alexis Mac Allister performs in his number 6 role, especially at tracking James Maddison, if he is declared fit.
Many tactical intricacies underlay what promises to be a thrilling clash between two unbeaten sides. For the neutral, expect fantastic end-to-end football, similar to speed chess, as the managers try to make tactical tweaks and in-game management decisions as quickly as possible to try and cope with a fast-paced football match.