Two different styles of pressing will be used as Liverpool face Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, explains Paul Wilkes in his latest tactical preview...
Mauricio Pochettino and his recruitment staff have quietly gone about their business this summer, with Victor Wanyama and Vincent Janssen signed so far. His side benefit from his distinct philosophy, which he began to develop under former coach Marcelo Bielsa, while playing as a centre-back for Newell’s Old Boys.
Last season’s title challenge means that Tottenham have achieved a fairly settled first XI, whereas many of their rivals are still searching for the most effective combinations. This term, they have more strength in depth and are unlikely to suffer when Pochettino wisely rotates his team.
Jürgen Klopp’s first game in charge of Liverpool saw the two teams meet and many observers drew comparisons from the way the two managers like their players to harass the opposition without the ball. “I think it’s a different pressing,” admitted Pochettino before his Spurs side faced Liverpool last season.
“If you analyse Dortmund, it’s not similar to how we played at Southampton because our pressing was high up, to the opponent’s ’keeper, but Dortmund play a medium block. It’s very strange to compare those two styles – Klopp’s style to mine. We are different.
“I prefer to press high, we believe we can press the ’keeper. Other managers believe it is better to press in the medium block or to sit deep and hit on the counter-attack. This is how you feel, what you believe and how you develop your style.”
The main difference defensively is that Spurs naturally play with a higher line and the Belgian pairing of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld operate almost as midfielders in the centre-back position. In midfield, Wanyama will likely partner Eric Dier, as Mousa Dembele is suspended.
Dembele is one of the best dribblers in the Premier League and his calming presence in possession will be missed by the home side. “Wanyama and Dier together in the centre is a little bit different to Dier and Dembele,” noted Klopp this week.
Liverpool may look to exact pressure on the central midfield area and disrupt Spurs from creating chances, while Pochettino’s men will probably aim for the heart of the Reds back four and ensure Simon Mignolet hasn’t got much time on the ball.
Harry Kane started against Crystal Palace behind Janssen, but Dele Alli should be reinstated in the No.10 role, with Kane leading the line in his more traditional position. On the flanks, Erik Lamela likes to take on his opposing full-backs and drift laterally, while Christian Eriksen regularly shoots from distance and plays incisive passes into Kane.
Paul Wilkes (@paulwilkesfooty)