Liverpool 1-1 Tottenham: a tactical analysis

We’ve talked about the penalties endlessly but what tactics were on show during the game itself?

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(Photo credit: Kumpei Shiraishi)

There was a game this weekend in which, towards the end, two ‘goal of the season’ contenders were scored in quick succession.

Rather than simply enjoying the wonder of these goals, the lion’s share of the discussion surrounding the game has been on refereeing decisions. 

Of course, those decisions were pivotal in determining the result of the game. So they do make important topics of the conversation. 

These moments, later in the game, were also entertaining in their own way – the raw emotion of the surprise call, the schadenfreude of a rival fan bases’ pain and resulting social media breakdown.

I am not going to write about the referees.  Instead, I am going to talk about the context that surrounded them.

The first half: same old, same old

The story of Klopp versus Pochettino fixtures has been the latter’s refusal to adapt to the former’s play-style and suffering for it. 

That trend was broken in October when, at Wembley, Spurs scored early, sat deep and hit Liverpool on the break.

Lining up with an asymmetrical midfield, often blurring between a 4-2-2-2 and a 4-4-2 with  a midfield diamond which congested the middle of the park, the same counter-attacking style that he had used at Wembley earlier in the season indicated that Mauricio Pochettino’s plans were, yet again, unchanged on this occasion. 

Those plans were scuppered as, this time, the early goal fell to Liverpool: Mohamed Salah pouncing on a loose pass and immediately free on goal in a style typical of Jurgen Klopp’s approach.

Spurs were forced, then, to bring the ball forward against the world’s most lethal counter-attacking unit. This went more or less exactly as it was planned from a Liverpool perspective.

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