Tottenham vs Liverpool: 6 Things Kenny Dalglish Needs to Address
Harry Redknapp's Spurs side are buoyant after their 2-0 win at Wolves and some additions to their injury-hit squad.
Dalglish will hope to gain three points from one of Liverpool's main rivals for Champions League places.
Here are six issues that Dalglish needs to tackle for the important game against Tottenham.
6. Defensive Line
Against Stoke, Liverpool's defense was rarely troubled. Tottenham pose a completely different threat.
As shown by the harsh penalty decision given against Jamie Carragher in the game against Stoke, opposing sides will look to isolate Carra and attack with pace.
If Tottenham play a 4-4-2 with Adebayor and Defoe up front, as they did against Wolves, they will look to run off Carragher.
This might make Dalglish inclined to play deep to minimize the space in behind the back line.
But Liverpool would then have difficulty in asserting a high-pressure, pressing game, which could allow Tottenham to get their main weapons from midfield, Luka Modric and Gareth Bale, into the game regularly.
However, Rafael van der Vaart could be available for the game on Sunday. If so, his possible inclusion in Tottenham's side adds another quandary for Dalglish in how to set up his defense.
If van der Vaart were to play, Harry Redknapp would most likely drop Defoe. A deep line would then give van der Vaart more space to drop off and pull the strings between Liverpool's defense and midfield.
If van der Vaart plays, Dalglish would implore his side to push up the pitch and close off the space in midfield.
The third option would be to play a high line even if Defoe plays, press Tottenham in central midfield and cut off the supply from the center.
This would allow for a better pressing game to limit Tottenham's passing effectiveness, but it would not suit Jamie Carragher.
Could this be the time for Sebastian Coates? Or is it still far too early to blood the young Uruguayan in such a big game?
5. Luka Modric's Influence from Midfield
Luka Modric may have sulked more than many kids returning to school this past week—but he can still make Spurs tick.
If Liverpool line up as they did against Stoke, Dalglish's side should have the numerical advantage in the center of the park—which will help stifle Modric's effectiveness.
However, Dalglish may need to assign Lucas Leiva or Charlie Adam to get in Modric's face as early as possible when Spurs have the ball.
Frustrating Modric early, particularly after his recent unhappiness, could help assert Liverpool's dominance in midfield and control of the game.
If Liverpool can retain the majority of possession and frustrate the Tottenham crowd, it should lead to a happy trip to London.
4. Jordan Henderson's Forward Passes
Jordan Henderson has had a mixed start to his career at Anfield.
The most obvious part of his game that indicates his confidence on the pitch is the direction of his passing.
Overall, Henderson's pass completion has been decent, on par with Charlie Adam. However, Adam passes the ball forward far more often than Henderson if the 21-year-old ex-Sunderland midfielder is not brimming with confidence.
In fact, Henderson's nervousness can lead to him passing the ball backwards to the defense, or to Lucas Leiva, more often than trying a ball through to Dirk Kuyt, Luis Suarez or Stewart Downing.
Henderson's fear of losing possession is inhibiting his effectiveness. His first shot against Stoke had all the hallmarks of a player more worried about getting it all wrong than about breaking the back of the net. Hence the on-target but under-hit shot.
It is expected that Henderson would have some nerves this early for Liverpool, but Kenny Dalglish needs to address this sporadic loss in confidence—or consider his options from the bench in the meantime.
3. Danger from the Wing
Gareth Bale can sometimes be rated by his performance against Inter Milan last season, rather than his actual effectiveness in recent games.
Glen Johnson and Martin Kelly are both out injured, which adds extra importance to Kenny Dalglish's decision on how to handle Tottenham's attack from the wings, particularly from Bale.
Martin Skrtel has done a decent job filling in at right back recently; however, Bale's pace may be a real threat, and Skrtel could need some assistance quelling the Welshman's attacking menace.
Having Lucas Leiva drop in to help could nullify the problem, but it could then leave Modric free in the midfield, or van der Vaart if he does return.
Dalglish might opt to have Henderson double-up with Skrtel on Bale whenever the ball is on Liverpool's right side. Though Henderson has had some inconsistencies, he does a lot of running and covers the ground well.
However Kenny decides to approach it, stopping Bale's service to the front line would go a long way in blunting Tottenham's attack.
2. Andy Carroll
Andy Carroll is becoming a distracting issue.
Some fans feel that if Kenny Dalglish had any confidence in Carroll, he would have started him against Stoke, whose physicality would have been the ideal time to employ the big front man.
His position on the bench gave fuel to the arguments that Carroll isn't cutting it at the moment.
Others would say Dalglish didn't want to play to Stoke's strength and preferred quick movement as the way to get at Stoke's towering back-line.
Whatever the reason, Carroll's lack of match time, and his less-than-impressive performance in that brief period, is causing concerns about his long-term viability for the Liverpool team.
Is the Spurs game where Liverpool fans see Carroll given a start to prove his worth?
Or will Dalglish leave him on the bench and let some fans' rumblings of discontent continue?
1. At White Hart Lane, He Shoots, He Scores... Hopefully
As highlighted in the excellent Anfield Index article, Liverpool struck 24 shots against Stoke, but only seven of them were on target.
Referee Mark Clattenburg certainly didn't do Luis Suarez and the other attackers any favors, but they should have put at least one of their chances away.
I have little doubt that Kenny Dalglish will review the Stoke game with his team and then practice finishing with diligence on the training ground this week.
Tottenham haven't been as strong defensively as Stoke, and Liverpool might get more space in and around the Spurs back four—but they must make sure they take their chances this weekend.
If Liverpool fail to score against Tottenham, Spurs has more options in attack than Stoke to punish the team from Anfield.
Banging in a few goals at White Hart Lane would certainly ease the frustration felt after Stoke.
Kenny Dalglish Has a Lot to Consider
Kenny Dalglish has a number of thorny problems to solve ahead of the game against Tottenham Hotspur this weekend.
In defence and attack, Dalglish needs to iron out the sloppiness and individual errors that contributed to a dissatisfying loss against Stoke.
He will, however, impress upon the players how well they kept the ball at the Britannia Stadium, and that they created enough chances to put the game beyond Stoke's reach.
If Liverpool can control the game to a similar degree, but be more clinical in front of goal, they should be able to gain a confidence-boosting victory.
If not, questions about Liverpool's ability to gain results away from home will be voiced all the more loudly.
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