How Jurgen Klopp's tactics saw Liverpool nullify Tottenham threat before dramatic finish

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Liverpool kept pace with Manchester City in the Premier League title race as a last-minute Toby Alderweireld own goal snatched all three points in a 2-1 win against Tottenham at Anfield on Sunday.

The result sees the Reds go top, two points ahead of City who have a game in hand and play Cardiff City in midweek.

Roberto Firmino broke the deadlock in the 16th minute, directing a header into the back of the net following a sublime cross from Andrew Robertson. Spurs dragged themselves level with 20 minutes to play thanks to a quick free-kick from Harry Kane instigating a move that saw Lucas Moura steer in Christian Eriksen’s square ball from close range.

In the final minute of regulation time, Mohamed Salah’s header was parried by Hugo Lloris only to rebound off Alderweireld’s shin and over the line.

Here, we analyse how Jurgen Klopp’s tactics affected the game.

BASIC STATS

Goals – 2

Shots – 14

Possession – 49.5%

Tackles won – 16

Aerials won – 12

Dribbles – 4

30-SECOND REPORT

Klopp set his side up in a traditional 4-3-3 with Firmino, Salah and Sadio Mane making up a familiar looking attack. In midfield though, security was prioritised as James Milner and Jordan Henderson started ahead of Fabinho, Naby Keita and Adam Lallana.

Mauricio Pochettino was serving the second of his two-match touchline ban following his altercation with referee Mike Dean after defeat to Burnley. The Argentine watched on from the stands as he fielded a 3-5-2 system.

Spurs began the sharper of the two sides and won battles in different areas of the pitch. However, they weren’t equipped to pose a consistent threat in the final third while Liverpool always did so even when ceding possession to their visitors over certain spells of the game.

Pochettino’s side seemed to lose confidence after the hosts struck first but grew into the game again during the second half. The encounter seemed destined to end in a stalemate before the Reds snatched a fortuitous winner at the death.

Mohamed Salah had a hand in the winner.

Mohamed Salah had a hand in the winner.

TACTICAL TALKING POINT

Forcing Spurs back

Spurs operated with a very narrow midfield as Kane was partnered by Moura up front. That meant they relied heavily on their wing-backs to generate width. Klopp recognised an opportunity there to suffocate their three-man central defence and force Kieran Trippier and Danny Rose to retreat.

Liverpool’s front three are well-versed in the high-press and went man-for-man against the Spurs centre-backs. Given the away side’s insistence on playing out from the back, Trippier and Rose were forced to drop deep in order to provide passing options. If they didn’t, Spurs would end up surrendering possession. If they did, their central midfielders would struggle without options out wide.

When Liverpool did win possession, they acted to swiftly to spray it out wide where their full-backs had plenty of space to operated in. In fact, that’s precisely how they made the breakthrough with Robertson having all the time in the world to whip in a majestic cross for Firmino to nod home.

Andrew Robertson and Kieran Trippier

VERDICT

Tactically speaking, this was a pretty even battle between Klopp and Pochettino. The Liverpool boss had the better set-up, striking the right balance between defence and attack. Spurs didn’t given themselves enough options in attack but grew into the game and perhaps deserved a draw. Still, Klopp managed to get the win while their title hopes seemed to inch away from them. His constant gesturing and encouragement from the technical area had a bearing on his side – and the Anfield support. It’s not entirely about tactics.

Rating 7/10

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Neil Warnock tears into 'world's worst' Premier League officials after Chelsea drama

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Cardiff manager Neil Warnock branded Premier League officials the “worst in the world” after Chelsea capitalised on a refereeing blunder to produce a dramatic 2-1 comeback win.

Chelsea were 1-0 down with six minutes left when Cesar Azpilicueta, who was standing two yards offside, met Marcos Alonso’s flick-on to head home the equaliser.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek punished Cardiff further in stoppage time, leaving Cardiff to count the cost of assistant referee Eddie Smart’s failure to spot that Azpilicueta was clearly offside.

Warnock also felt that Cardiff should have had two penalties, both for Chelsea players holding Sean Morrison’s shirt at set-pieces.

Antonio Rudiger, Warnock added, should also have been sent off for dragging down Kenneth Zohore with the score at 1-1 and the Cardiff substitute through on goal. Rudiger was booked by referee Craig Pawson.

“It’s almost like it’s not who you play, it’s who you get to referee and who is going to have a flag in their hand nowadays, it’s just as important,” Warnock told Sky Sports.

“The best league in the world and probably the worst officials at the minute.

“He (Smart) is saying that Willian blocked his view, but it wasn’t a six inches one. Either side you should be able to see he’s two yards offside.

“It’s soul-destroying really. I can understand why the lads are down.”

Cardiff took the lead against lacklustre Chelsea in the first minute of the second half.

Victor Camarasa struck a splendid volley and Cardiff, who are 18th and in the final relegation place, looked as if they would cut the five-point gap on Brighton, Burnley and Southampton above them.

“If I was a Burnley, Southampton or Brighton fan it’s the best thing that could have ever happened,” Warnock said.

“It’s knocked our lads down, they are flat.

“We’ve worked on things for the last three weeks and one of them is coming out at corner kicks and leaving a man in.

“The lads have just said ‘what we do now gaffer? What’s the point?’

“You’ve got to hope the linesman can see it. VAR has got to be the answer to help them out, it would have sorted the goal out within seconds.”

Chelsea’s win took them to within one point of fourth-placed Manchester United and kept alive their hopes of a Champions League spot.

But manager Maurizio Sarri, who left star forward Eden Hazard on the bench until the 53rd minute, was a target for the travelling supporters during the second half.

The Chelsea fans sang ‘we want Sarri out’ and ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ before the late goals.

Sarri said: “I don’t want to answer, but I can understand the reaction of the fans.

“But it was probably best for them to wait until the end of the match. I am getting used to this and for me, it’s not a big problem.

“I just have to work to change their opinion. If I win matches, then the fans will be happy.

“We were lucky with the first goal. But I think we deserved to win and, sometimes during a season, you need to win matches like this.”

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Arsenal have chance to make a statement in Premier League's top-four race

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Arsenal look like favourites in the top four race.

Arsenal return to Premier League action on Monday as they welcome Newcastle to north London.

Newcastle are seven points above the relegation zone, possibly safe already, though they can’t afford to think so. Arsenal, meanwhile, need to keep pace with their top four rivals.

Here are the talking points for the game.

WILL ARSENAL BE RUSTY OR RESTED?

Arsenal have had a longer break than most Premier League teams, since they didn’t play on the weekend before the international break thanks to their early elimination from the FA Cup while their scheduled opponents, Wolves, were busy beating Manchester United in the quarter-finals of the competition that weekend.

By a quirk of the schedule they’re also playing the last game of this game week, one or in some cases two days after everyone else, and a full 18 days since they last kicked a ball in anger.

The extra day could help players like Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka be fit for this game, which would be a welcome boost. Newcastle have showed in recent weeks that they are no pushovers and though Arsenal are formidable at home, this has all the makings of a potential banana-skin game. They may be well-rested, but they can’t afford to show any rust.

ARSENAL NEED TO MAKE THEIR MARK IN TOP FOUR RACE

By most pundits’ estimations, Arsenal have the inside track on their rivals in the top four race. They play no other top-six side the rest of the season, though Monday’s game is one of only three remaining at home in Arsenal’s final eight league fixtures.

Those three home games are all against teams in the bottom half of the table, starting with Rafael Benitez’s outfit, and though no team can afford to be taken lightly – Newcastle and Crystal Palace, another of Arsenal’s remaining home opponents, have both beaten Man City this season – Arsenal are undoubtedly targeting nine points from those games.

Only City and Liverpool have better home records than Unai Emery’s side this season. And this weekend, Arsenal play after all of their top four rivals, which can add to the pressure but also makes it abundantly clear what’s expected of them. This is the perfect chance to make a statement.

CAN BENITEZ BREAK HIS DUCK?

For all that Benitez has achieved as Newcastle manager, he could make a bit of personal history on Monday. The Spaniard has never managed a win away from home in the Premier League at Arsenal, with two draws the best he’s done in seven previous visits to the North-London club.

Across competitions in 2019, Arsenal and Newcastle have actually lost the same number of games, five, which doesn’t reflect too well on the Gunners; true, two of their losses came in Europe, where Newcastle haven’t played a competitive fixture in six years, but those were against BATE Borisov and Rennes.

Their home form has been superlative all season, however, which makes it unlikely that Benitez breaks his duck on Monday. But Newcastle have acquitted themselves well in away losses against City, Chelsea, Tottenham, and United – where they led 2-0 – this season. Is this the game where they finally break through?

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