Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Manchester United vs Liverpool: This Is How Klopp Can Tactically Outwit Mourinho And Win The Match

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Salil Gokarn
A professional banker, amateur chef and a Liverpool fan. Loves the Scouse accent but cannot make head or tail of it most of the time.

The biggest clash of them all in the Premier League as Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool who aren’t on the best of runs face a daunting trip to the home of their bitterest rivals in Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United.

Manchester United are in fine form and have won six games on the trot in the Premier League and have virtually booked a place in the League Cup finals after a comfortable 2-0 win at home to Hull City in the EFL Cup Semi Final first leg. The away leg could now merely serve as a formality for Mourinho’s men.

The scene at Liverpool is now very different. Liverpool’s form has taken a hit and Klopp’s men are yet to win a game in the New Year after a smashing start to the season in 2016, which sees them second in the Premier league table and active on all domestic fronts for silverware.

Draws against Sunderland and Plymouth and a loss against Southampton in the League Cup Semi Final first leg have left all the fans baffled about how things have gone wrong so far. Liverpool is clearly missing the likes of Mane due to international commitments and Jordan Henderson due to injury and there have been clear groans from sections of the Anfield faithful to add to the squad in January to boost their bid for Silverware.

The return of Philippe Coutinho is a timely boost though but many questions have been raised about the Reds’ recent dip in form and performances. All still isn’t lost, Liverpool have a replay against Plymouth in the FA Cup and a return leg at Anfield against Southampton to resurrect their Cup pride, as long as the Premier League is not out of the grasp in the next few matches. Let us look at how Klopp could resurrect Liverpool’s season ahead starting with the “Biggest game of the season”.

Where the game can be Won

Overview: – Tactically he has to get the team spot on. The last time these two met at Anfield, there was a lot of hype surrounding the game and its magnitude, sadly it failed to deliver on the pitch about the quality of football which was expected. Mourinho came to Anfield looking to squeeze the game out, playing hard to break down with little possession and hit Liverpool on the break. Liverpool were in breathtaking form and would have been upset with the outcome of the came as Mourinho once again proved why he is the Tactical master to get the job done.

Play a 4-3-2-1 than a 4-3-3? Win the midfield Battle with a focal point up front

Klopp could play a near full strength team yet, barring Matip and Mane. The Reds have been short of the pace, goals and work rate of their star player off late but could still be good enough to get the job done if Klopp gets his tactics spot on. Playing Sturridge up front as the lone striker with Coutinho, Firmino and Lallana offering their guile and craft for the forward could offer Liverpool a realistic threat.

Liverpool's English striker Daniel Sturridge (R) celebrates after scoring their second goal during the EFL (English Football League) Cup fourth round match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield in Liverpool north west England on October 25, 2016. / AFP / Oli SCARFF / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
Liverpool’s English striker Daniel Sturridge (R) celebrates after scoring their second goal during the EFL (English Football League) Cup fourth round match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield in Liverpool north-west England on October 25, 2016. / AFP/Oli SCARFF

Sturridge will have to up his game for this one if Liverpool have to get something from this game as United have once again proved to be difficult to break down at the back and have the tendency of defending their odd goal advantage. Jordan Henderson will be up against a much improved and dangerous Paul Pogba who’s starting to show his true quality as to why Manchester United paid big money for his services.

Wijnaldum could have his task cut out to pull the strings in midfield, as after Henderson if there is anyone who is capable of providing quality passes through the midfield, it’s the Dutchman. Liverpool cannot afford to play into Mourinho’s deep lying tactics, and Klopp should acknowledge the fact that Mourinho is a master at making things dull and boring to frustrate Liverpool’s swerve.

Adam Lallana and Firmino will have to offer their team on the defensive fronts as well as on the attacking front in Mane’s absence. Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Juan Mata, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and company have been in devastating form and can hurt Liverpool’s often fragile back four, The Reds will have to be alert at all times to keep them at bay. Divock Origi, Alberto Moreno and Emre Can offer Liverpool some tactical options off the bench.

Should Klopp start Moreno at Left Back and play Milner in a more Central Defensive role?

This is one question that could spring up, tactically Moreno as a pacy full-back could cause United a few problems, keeping the like of Mkhitaryan and Valencia in check on the right hand side of midfield with Milner playing in an anchorman role offering the team a reliable defensive yet assured passer from the back allowing Henderson to string a few passes forward to the Liverpool front four.

Most wouldn’t want Klopp to make such a change in such a huge game but if it is a gamble willing to pay off, one might as well see it work as well, having Emre Can on the bench and using him in the second half to keep the midfield stability intact. Milner in midfield in a deeper role could be a blessing; If only Klopp could look at the option. Choking United’s midfield Generals in Ander Herrera, Pogba and Mkhitaryan will be the top priority if Liverpool have to get the better of United.

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