The Reds take an action from domestic action when they face Tottenham at Anfield, in the EFL Cup on Tuesday. Who needs to start against Spurs? Who’ll get dropped?
Who will be dropped?
First of all, before I get into this, I want to reiterate that I believe fresh legs & energy is required from this Liverpool side against Spurs. Having played West Brom in the league on Saturday evening and won, the Reds only have 2 days in between until their clash – so some key players may need to be dropped, taking fatigue in consideration.
Loris Karius. On Twitter, I, and many others, have led a propaganda against dishing prophecies this early on in his Liverpool career – after all, the Bundesliga operates at a different league to English football. However, considering his consistent league starts – fatigue could kick in. Having played on Saturday against West Brom, it’s best if boss Jurgen Klopp gave second choice goalkeeper Simon Mignolet a chance to prove if he’s worthy of being first in command for starting regularly. Despite the likelihood of him being dropped, Liverpool supporters need to let Karius rebuild his confidence, following a difficult start.
Philippe Coutinho. His vision, like Firmino was brilliant – and bagged an impressive goal against the Baggies. But, maybe it is time for Adam Lallana to be moved into his role – in a more attacking frame of mind for the Englishman.
Sadio Mané. Danny Ings, who has been impressing for the Liverpool U21s of late merits a rare opportunity in the first team.
Roberto Firmino. He, again, has been superb form recently; whilst not scoring a lot of goals, he’s made up for that with a bag full of assists. There are other strikers who are capable of breaking in the first team such as Danny Ings and Divock Origi, so it’s best if they’re given a chance.
Dejan Lovren. Solid performance against West Brom – but Ragnar Klavan, who has been given little playing time in the first team so far this season, probably deserves an opportunity too.
What is needed?
Tottenham are expected to field a fairly inexperienced backline following their league exploits against Bournemouth on Saturday, however the Reds will not have to be reminded of the goalkeeping prowess of Michel Vorm. When Liverpool faced Spurs earlier in the 2016/2017 season at White Hart Lane, Vorm made several outstanding stops to deny Liverpool taking a deserved 3 points away from home. Therefore, Liverpool’s front line that may consist of Divock Origi & Danny Ings will need to be proflic & sharp as ever when the chances/loose balls fall to them – Origi has looked off the pace, coming on as a substitute on regular occasions this season, whilst Ings has not had a taste of competitive football since May against West Brom Albion – injury hindered his first season at the club.
Tottenham also have a good balance in midfield – in the shielding/holding midfield positions, they have Eric Dier, who has bags of experience playing in the Barclays Premier League, alongside Harry Winks – who has excited a few Tottenham fans, coming in from the academy. His ball manipulation can be key for their composure on the ball. The gegenpressing that has seen Liverpool’s attack yield plenty of goals will need to be present; you simply cannot afford to give them time on the ball to set themselves and provide service to attackers.
What will be dangerous about their attack is their pace. Josh Onomah, who has made several substitute appearances in the league & competitive football may operate behind tricky striker Vincent Janssen, who will be looking for his first league goal for Spurs since his summer arrival – the Dutch international bagged 27 goals in 34 appearances for AZ Alkmaar in the Eredivisie last season. His movement & pace off the ball can be a problem for Ragnar Klavan, just breaking into the team.
On the right-wing, Moussa Sissoko, who was signed by Tottenham from Everton on deadline day has provided signs of promise with his play off the ball – his pace & ambition to run at defenders can be a problem for Nathaniel Clyne. However, Sissoko endorsed himself in controversy at the weekend, after a cynical & un-necessary elbow on Bournemouth’s Harry Arter – which landed him a fine by the FA, and potentially a retrospective ban.
Finally, former Marseille winger Georges-Kevin Nkoudou also has bags of pace; he could prove a handful for the much-maligned Alberto Moreno.
To deal with Spurs’ attack, sharpness, physical ability & pace, obviously, is required. Nathaniel Clyne has been a model of consistency since his arrival in summer 2015 – whilst Alberto Moreno has been regularly scapegoated by Liverpool fans for his errors towards the back-end of last season.
How Liverpool should line up:
Simon Mignolet, as confirmed by manager Jürgen Klopp, will start between the sticks.
Nathaniel Clyne continues at right-back, whilst the CB partnership reverts from Lovren-Matip to Klavan-Matip – the Estonian defender requires more time in the side, and it’s his perfect chance to have more time here. Him starting alongside Jöel Matip, who has been praised as a hot asset for his physicality, will breed confidence.
At left-back; this is a controversial move, but I would have the criticised Alberto Moreno. He wasn’t bad at all by any means when he came on against Manchester United last week, and sometimes the mud-slinging he is on the end of is simply hard on the Spaniard.
Moving onto the midfield – Emre Can, who put in a brilliant performance that eluded him against Man United last Monday deserves another chance in the first-team to finally banish the idea that he is a one-hit wonder.
Marko Grujic, who featured regularly in pre-season (but no so often in the league this season), adopts Adam Lallana’s usual position in RCM.
Completing the three-man midfield is Dutchman Georginio Wijnaldum – who came on as a substitute against West Brom on Saturday, having lost his starting place to Emre Can. He will be key to Liverpool’s pressing on Spurs’ holding midfield duo.
The man who should lead Liverpool’s attack is Divock Origi. He hasn’t been sharpish coming on a substitute – looking a little rusty at the moment, but a starting place could boost his confidence, and even further he bags a goal.
On the right, Adam Lallana, who usually is preferred in the deeper right midfield role deserves an opportunity for Reds fans to get more of a glimpse of what he can do in a more attacking frame of mind role.
And finally, Danny Ings, who is known & been praised for his Dirt Kuyt-like workrate on & off the ball needs a chance to up his confidence too. Unfortunately, we didn’t see a lot from the Englishman after injury ended his season. But, having played well for the U23s, now’s his chance to give Jürgen Klopp food for thought regarding striker selection.
These are the type of games that rile me. Having played a full-strength side in the league two days ago, and winning, this cup tie against a very good Tottenham side is the last thing we’ll need. We may be forced to field a slightly weaker team considering energy levels; the stamina of the players is what most worries me. Spurs have more options in pace in attack than we do – the pace of our defence is worrying. We have no option but to keep Joel Matip & Nathaniel Clyne in the side despite their respective inclusion(s) in the side on Saturday.
That said, however, we still need to take domestic cups seriously even though our main ambition is top 4 in the league this year. Given that we missed out on European football after the Europa League final defeat in May, domestically, there’s an extra edge to it. We reached the final of this cup last season with a weaker & more limited squad that had no money invested in it by Klopp – plus we also had European football; so realistically, as money & no European football is being invested in the squad, we have no excuses for attempting to go far in this competition. The only realistic chances of us winning silverware this season is the EFL Cup & the FA Cup, so if we want our 2nd trophy in 10 years (which is too long a trophy drought for a club our stature), we need to look at the bigger picture here. Get knocked out, and the pressure is on us to win the FA Cup. Put in a good cup run, we won’t need to worry about sweating for success in May at the end of the campaign.
But, there’s something that tells me that we won’t win this game, despite some decent attacking talent in the side. I’m going to veto my brain though, and go with the heart. Can’t think about a cup defeat this early in the season that can damage morale despite an encouraging start.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur