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Football News: Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur - A Quick Liverpool Perspective

Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur - A Quick Liverpool Perspective

Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur


What an insane game. Liverpool found it so easy to create chances going forward that it could have been (maybe even should have been) a cricket score, but their defending was utterly abysmal. It certainly did Liverpool a favour that, by the time Postecoglou sorted things out with a triple substitution, they were 4-0 up. It was very nice to watch Liverpool go forward with width and attacking verve. There was good movement, good delivery into the box and Spurs could not cope with it at all. Spurs are very narrow with their inverted full-backs, which Liverpool took full advantage of going forward and really should have added more goals to their tally. The constant rotation of Diaz and Gakpo down the left unsettled the Londoners' defence and Salah was able to get Emerson isolated time and time again. It was finally a sign of some good tactics at work, rather than trying to force an unsuited system on the Reds players and wondering why they struggle.

The only thing that ruined this performance was the ineptitude of the defending. It was truly dreadful and masked early on by just how bad Spurs were. Once they managed to get some passes strung together, they simply strolled through a non-existent defence. Partly helped by Liverpool taking their foot off the gas a little after the 4th goal, but there is no excuse for such poor quality defending. It is basic stuff that is not being done. No one gets close enough. Everyone in that defensive unit just sits off and lets the opposition do their thing. The reading of the game is poor as well, allowing Richarlison to run in behind at will. If the midfield and attack are not able to smother the opposition with a press, then there is a huge problem. It is basic coaching of the kind that can be done in days. When a coach like Hodgson or Allardyce arrives at a new club, they will drill that into their team first before they do anything else. While I do not want to see Liverpool play the kind of football either of them do, what they show is that it is simple and quick to drill those basics into players. I just wonder why it has evaporated at Liverpool in the last few years. If Lijnders is the world class coach he claims to be, why can he not organise a defensive unit to defend?

He can certainly coach, that I am not disagreeing with, but Lijnders needs to get his feet back on the ground, stop thinking he is a tactical genius and work on some basics before moving on to trying to innovate. The basics were there in the team before he became the main coach, similar to when Moyes left Everton and Marco Silva came in. Adding that bit more attacking flair in Silva's case, tactical changes in Lijnders' case, to a solid foundation was good. But both have failed to return to working on the basics at regular intervals, until the basics failed them both. That is where Liverpool are at right now, they need a reminder of the basics of defending as a unit to build a base for the attacking football to prosper. Having seen footage of the way Manchester City prepare in their pre-match warm up, drilling the back four in just basic back four work, I think Liverpool need to incorporate that too. In fact there are very few clubs who could not do with a warm up in a similar vein, reminding defenders to drop as a unit when a player is on the ball in time and space and when one should close down while the rest drop off to cover.

For those wondering what I am talking about, this is a link to the clip on instagram:

Actually one more thing I nearly forgot, that is to say well done to the Anfield crowd. It would have been so easy to struggle to create an atmosphere with nothing really left to play for and the team being so poor in recent weeks but it was good from start to finish. It is just sad that the Jurgen Klopp song will have to be retired soon.


I really enjoy watching Ange Postecoglou's football, but it really is asking for trouble against the better teams as they can expose it so easily. If the Australian had a better quality of player, then it would work a lot better, but playing such a high line with inverted full-backs meaning there are wide open spaces on the flanks is just asking for trouble. Especially when you are relying on a defender like van de Ven. The guy is obscenely quick, but as a defender he is simply not very good other than being quick. He is a weak point to attack and it creates so many gaps as Romero is constantly in on the cover, leaving a simple ball across for any attacker on the ball once he has drawn Romero over to cover. All that is needed is a pass to the side and there is an attacker running in on goal.

The defending of Spurs has to be up there with the worst in the Premier League, it is little wonder they are starting to struggle. The selection choices are very strange as well, putting Emerson at left-back against Salah was clearly going to be an issue as he is an awful defender. To then take him off and put Skipp there beggars belief. The only reason Skipp was not responsible for allowing Salah to run in to space behind him multiple times was due to clear fouls, which it is amazing the referee missed. There is a lot of work there to turn them into anything but an also-ran team. The squad is in need of an overhaul, bringing in players to suit the new way of playing if they are to progress. I do wonder if he will have to abandon his inverted full-back system and wake up to the fact that it is better to have an attacking player in and around the box, with the full-backs out wide providing the width. Yes, a full-back might ocassionally smash one in from 25 yards, but attacking players will create many more chances in the same positions.


Quick notes on the players:


Alisson - he must have done more sweeping up of bad balls from the opposition in the first half alone than he had done in the entire rest of the season put together. The second half he did actually get tested and did what he could to keep Tottenham from scoring more. The thing that has to be of concern was just how much screaming he did at the defenders in the last half hour or so, I don't remember him being that angry with a defence in front of him before. He had every right to be furious with them as they were so bad.

Alexander-Arnold - the difference when he stays wide and provides attacking thrust down the flanks is night and day. Not only do Liverpool look better, but he looks better playing that way.

Quansah - while he did some good things at times, overall his defending was poor. He was caught out repeatedly by a simple ball in behind him and never learnt to drop when the man on the ball had time and space. Once more it is basics of defending that are missing, because one on one he did well, but when working as a unit, his defensive positioning was poor.

van Dijk - there are times when you just have to wonder if Virgil has an identical twin brother who plays some of the games. This was one of those times. His performances in the last few weeks have been poor, but this was up there with the worst. He was all over the place, except for anywhere near where he should have been. There was so much space for the Spurs' attackers to exploit and van Dijk was the main culprit. He has had such a good season, but it has tailed off badly. He needs to actually engage attackers, rather than just backing off and allowing them to play. It is fine to back off when you are in a one-on-one situation and are trying to make time for cover to arrive, but van Dijk is now just backing off no matter the situation. If there is cover, then you need to engage and put the player under pressure, not back away and hope they make a mistake.

Robertson - had a really good game and scored. He was back to his best marauding down the flank but not just mindlessly, he was choosing the right time. He also dealt well with Johnson, shutting him out of the game while he was up against him.

Endo - if only the defence showed his attitude and desire to get in the face of every opposition player, Liverpool would have kept a clean sheet. Had a good game.

Mac Allister - played well, amazing how that happens when there is options for him to pass to. In the recent run of his poor performances, the team has been so narrow that passing options have been extremely limited and the margin for error on a pass has been tiny with everyone crowded into narrow corridors. Suddenly Liverpool play with width, stretching the play and creating space, which gives him options to pick out and bigger gaps to play balls through. It is no coincidence that his performance improved.

Elliott - absolutely brilliant game for Elliott, topped off with a lovely goal. He must have enjoyed every moment of that game as he was having the time of his life out there. Elliott has been really impressive this season coming off the bench, but this was even better than any of those performances. And he is still only 21.

Diaz - did rotate well with Gakpo and works so hard for the team but still needs better end product. He is so close to being a truly special player, but that end product is the key. Until he figures out that bit, he will never quite be right.

Gakpo - while Elliott was man of the match, Gakpo was the one with a case to argue that it could have been him. Playing a freer role than normal, rotating between left side and centre and it really suited him. Not only was he creating but he also added a goal for himself with a very good header from Elliott's cross. His performance did drop off a bit once Nunez came on, as the pair of them did not have quite the same understanding, which was added to by Gravenberch (who also came on then) making the same runs as Gakpo and getting in his way. His last few games have definitely made a case for Gakpo to be given an extended run on the left side of the attack. The only blight on his performance was the moment he dived. No more of that please Cody!

Salah - had a good game, caused so many problems and got a goal and assist. It feels churlish to criticise him, but he really should have scored more.

Bajcetic - brought on in the place of Endo in the 64th minute. Took a long time to get up to the pace of the game, his touch was very loose, but he did show signs of getting going towards the end. After such a long time out injured, this was probably the best chance he will get for a safe run out to get back up to speed.

Gomez - also came on in the 64th min, to take over from Robertson at left-back. He was very lucky not to give away a penalty but apart from that he was too nice and joined in the general malaise at the back of standing too far off the opposition.

Nunez - replaced Diaz in the 75th minute. Did not have the same understanding with Gakpo that Diaz has and was caught out clearly unsure what to do on a few occasions. He was not comfortable and it showed in what was not the best of performances, though nothing like as bad as the media are making out. Yes he could have scored, but Vicario did an Alisson-like block, rushing out to close the space down before Nunez had time to really do much other than hit and hope.

Gravenberch - took the place of Mac Allister also in the 75th minute. Stood watching as Bajcetic got dragged out to a position right behind him and never made any attempt to get back and fill in or take over so Bajcetic could return to the centre. As a result Spurs strolled through the huge space in the centre. And his performance never improved afterwards, he made absolutely no attempt to work back and continually made the same runs Gakpo was making. Back to the Gravenberch at the start of the season. Awful. The only thing he really needs to do is make an effort when he comes on as a sub, but he failed miserably to do so. Contrast that with Elliott's attitude when he comes off the bench and you can see why Elliott has moved past him in the pecking order.

Szoboszlai - Elliott picked up a knock and was replaced by the Hungarian in the 83rd minute. He was heavily involved, pretty much taking up where Elliott left off with lots of energy and getting up and down the pitch, but showed a bit less quality than Elliott had. He has not been the same since he got injured.

Written by Tris Burke May 08 2024 03:06:53