Liverpool’s Struggles Without Virgil Van Dijk

Football is complex and football teams are built on intricate systems. This means when a club loses a star player, like Liverpool with Virgil Van Dijk, the effect this has isn’t just localized to their position, it effects the whole side.

Van Dijk is undoubtedly an elite defender and would be a huge loss for any side in world football. His positioning, recovery pace and aerial ability not only protects Liverpool’s goal but allows them to be more attacking and player a higher defensive line. This high line means they can press higher and with more intensity, a crucial component of a Jürgen Klopp side.

The Dutchman also helps in transitional play as his passing and ability to carry the ball forwards is often relied upon by the Reds to get the ball to their forwards. Liverpool play a lot of longballs and a lot of those are played by Van Dijk.

This makes sense as Sadio Mané and Mo Salah are wide forwards who thrive on finding space. Van Dijk often likes to find the lethal two when they are making a fun in the channels as it sets up a quick attack, often disorientating the opposition’s defence. However, Virgil also is found passing to the fullbacks when they are making marauding runs forward.

These opportunities don’t always lead to a goal scoring opportunity, but they do allow Liverpool to push up the pitch and apply pressure. Even if they lose possession, due to their positioning, they are in a good position to win the ball back in a dangerous area.

Van Dijk is also tasked with sweeping up behind the defence. Without him there, this has meant the full backs haven’t has as much freedom which has seen Liverpool’s attack look blunt at times.

His absence has also meant Jordan Henderson and/or Fabinho have had to play at centre back. In turn, summer signing Thiago Alcântara has had to play in the deep midfield role which has made his adaptation period prolonged as many label him a flop.

This seems Liverpool try to force transitions through the middle rather than out wide due to the fullbacks being more reserved. However, because of Henderson and/or Fabinho’s absence, the midfield dynamic is different and there are often holes in the middle of the field.

It is in transition in which Klopp’s men struggle rather than attack. Although the Van Dijk injury has seen a drop off in attack, a drop from 2.24 goals per game last season to just 1.81 this season, it is not down to the forwards. The front three just aren’t getting the ball as much so don’t have as many opportunities.

On the other hand, the defence has got considerably worse as not only is he a great tackler and aerial threat, but they also miss his intangible qualities such as his leadership and organisation. Last season Liverpool conceded just 33 goals (0.87 per game) whilst this season they have already conceded 34 with 12 matches still to play, an increase of about 0.44 a game.

When Van Dijk isn’t there, Liverpool feel it defensively, offensively and in transition; more or less in every key aspect of their game. When you take a key component out of a function system, it will cause issues.

Is it bad luck for Klopp as one of his main cogs got injured? Or is it just highlighting how it is not sensible to heavily rely on one player?

How Thomas Tuchel Is Succeeding at Chelsea

On the 25th of January, Chelsea announced they had parted ways with club icon Frank Lampard as manager and a day later Thomas Tuchel was the new man in charge. The German is the 14th manager since Roman Abramovich bought the club 17 and a half years ago. Despite being sacked from PSG in December, the former Dortmund manager has the pedigree required to take the reins at Stamford Bridge.

Since taking over, the German is unbeaten in his nine games with six wins and three draws. Victories away to Atlético Madrid and London rivals Tottenham Hotspur has got the conversation started on how much Chelsea can achieve under their new boss. However, he should have never been doubted.

Last season Tuchel took PSG to their first Champions League final, but he is now tasked at getting Chelsea back into the Champions League spots and getting the best out of the big money signings. The latter seemed to have cost Frank his job along with his inability to beat the top opposition, both are things Tuchel did whilst in France.

First, the German will have to find his best starting 11. Lampard used 27 players this season, the most in the league, and this inconsistency in game time saw the performance in the players decrease. At the time of his sacking, Frank Lampard had only beaten one side in the top half of the Premier League as their early season form quickly went and they slumped to ninth.

Due to his pre match preparation, Tuchel changes his formation and systems depending on the opposition, this is ideal for the deep squad at his disposal. He has done this at every job he’s had and at Mainz he finished as high as fifth despite the clear talent deficit in the squad. They achieved this feat due to out witting their opponents with smart tactics and changing formations up to six times a match.

However, unlike most other pragmatic managers, Tuchel isn’t defensive, in 2015/16 his Dortmund side outscored Pep Guardiola’s all conquering Bayern and was the highest ever achieved by Borussia Dortmund.

His versatility has been seen throughout his managerial career. At Mainz, he made his team outwork their opponents to makeup for the less talented squad whilst at Dortmund, the side out played the opposition as he transformed Klopp’s counter pressing team into a more ball dominant one. In France he took an already dominant side and made them work harder off the ball which saw them become more dominant and break their Champions League knockout curse.

Previous Chelsea managers, including Lampard, have been stubborn in their approach and have complained they haven’t had the right players to fit their system. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem for the former Mainz manager as his tactical versality will often mask any squad issues.

He is not only a great tactician but also great at man management and keeping stars happy. Although Lampard won everything as a manager, there were always questions over his experience as a manager and when results weren’t falling their way, there were reports of discontent in the changing room. With his managerial experience, Tuchel will have more respect and trust from the players and his time at PSG helped teach him how to manage big egos around the club.

But this won’t mean bad news for the youth academy. He was won the under 19s Bundesliga with two different clubs, managed a young squad at Mainz and worked with the excellent youth at Dortmund emphasising he is one of the best at working with young players.

However, his intense approach doesn’t always sit well with eeveryone. At Mainz, a player referred to him as a ‘dictator’ and he fell out with Dortmund’s sporting director which led to him being sacked just days after winning the DFB Pokal.

He is undoubtedly one of the best managers around but his success at Chelsea hinges on how the players accept the changes and if the board are willing to work with him.

What Went Wrong for Lampard At Chelsea?

The 2020/21 Premier League season has taught us to expect the unexpected. Southampton have been top of the table despite their 9-0 loss last season, the media have expected Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United to win every game this season, Everton and Aston Villa both won their first four matches, Spurs won 6-1 at Old Trafford and Liverpool lost 7-2 to Villa amongst many other things.

Although Arsenal flirted with relegation, it seems no club has suffered the most from this rollercoaster season at Chelsea. They spent upwards of £200 million in the summer and they started the season brightly. However, from the start of December to Lampard’s sacking (25th January), the Blues only won four matches, two of which came in the FA Cup to lower league sides. When the Englishman was sacked, they sat ninth in the table with the early season title challenge fading quick.

Their summer recruitment got a lot of praise, especially their defensive signings of Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva and Édouard Mendy. All three looked to be revelations before December as they let in 10 from their first 10 matches with only Mourinho’s Tottenham boasting a better defence. By the sacking, they had fallen from having the second-best defence to the ninth worst. Their 3-1 losses to both Arsenal and Man City highlighted their struggles against the ‘top 6’ under Lampard.

The Blues started conceding more as Mendy’s excellent start which saw him concede one in his first six matches, dwindled away. His save percentage dropped below 70% for the first time in his career and by early January he had conceded 10 goals from an xG of 9.31. Silva and Chilwell’s performances hadn’t significantly dropped but the poor form wasn’t just the new goalkeeper’s fault.

Superhuman N’Golo Kanté has seen a dip in form. He has gone from single handily keeping the defence together to being just a very good defensive midfielder. His fall from generational performances has seen Lampard go from being rated as one of the best managers in the league to sacked which highlights how much the English manager relied on the Frenchman to keep the team going. This reliance on one player was a dangerous game to play from the manager as he effectively ran the former Leicester star into the ground and overworked him to breaking point.

Their defence fragility was highlighted against Man City and Arsenal. Pep’s side only had 45% possession but still managed 18 shots whilst against the Gunners, Chelsea managed 61% of the ball yet faced 15 shots. To be a top side, the midfield has to know what their roles are and work as a unit whilst at Stamford Bridge, it was one man having to mop up whilst the others did as they pleased.

‘Super’ Frank has also failed to get the best out of Kai Havertz and Timo Werner. The latter has constantly been played out of position as in Germany he was able to play through the middle or come in off the left wing, whilst at Chelsea he was been played as a traditional winger on the left. This saw him go 12 matches without a goal for his club with the drought ending in a win of League Two Morecambe.

Although bad form within players can’t be helped, it is up to the manager to get the team winning. In the Roman Abramovich era, he has the worst points per game (1.67) out of any other manager. The constant changing of formation and players doesn’t help the side as they need consistency to put in their best performances.

A lot of people will point to his first season in charge when he got a lot of credit for bringing through the youth. However, players like Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori, Mason Mount and Reece James were all Premier League quality, and he was forced to play them due to the transfer embargo.

Lampard rarely took the blame when things didn’t go well, unlike a lot of top managers and he often looked out of his depth against competent sides. Whether it was just too early or he isn’t made for top clubs, only time will tell as Chelsea continue with Thomas Tuchel.

Klopp v Guardiola: Gegenpressing v Possession, the tactical battle

On the 7th of October 2018, Man City drew 0-0 at Anfield. There was a lot of anticipation and excitement around the match for attacking football, but it did disappoint. After this game, there were claims Pep Guardiola changed his approach and tactics to be more conservative which is something he doesn’t do. This suggests that Klopp’s Liverpool away was so daunting Guardiola had to change his principles and “park the bus” like Mourinho tends to do away at big sides.

The Man City and Liverpool rivalry isn’t the first between these two as they have met in Germany. Guardiola’s first competitive defeat at Bayern boss came at the Signal Induna Park as Dortmund ran out 4-2 winners. Towards the end of that season, Dortmund beat Bayern 3-0 but Bayern had already secured the title. Klopp’s approach clearly caused problems for the Catalan coach.

In the 4-2 defeat in the Super Cup, Pep attacked with a 4-3-3 that morphed into a 4-2-4 with Thomas Müller pushing up from the midfield to joining Shaqiri who started centrally but dropped off. Bayern could play through Dortmund; however, Dortmund destroyed the Bavarians on the counter.

The 3-0 home loss in April, Pep once again started with a 4-3-3 but this time it morphed into a 2-3-2-3 which has become synonymous with his Man City team. The full backs would push up alongside the defensive midfielder and invert then the other two midfielders would push up and occupy the half spaces, acting as inverted wingers with the attacking trio in front of them. Two counters and a long ball got Dortmund their three goals and three points. After the game, Pep had claimed his side had “gone soft” after winning the title. But he did also say, pushing the full backs out wide at the start of the second half was a mistake as when they were inverted, they with the defensive midfielder could stop Dortmund’s narrow counterattack.

That season, Bayern did get a 3-0 away win against Dortmund in November. Guardiola started with a defensive 4-3-3 as the midfield was Lahm, Martínez and Kroos. Martínez was actually pushed up and used as an “anti-10”, his job was to stop Nuri Şahin who started Dortmund’s counterattacks. The “anti-10” has been used since, most famously with Fellaini under Mourinho as Fellaini was tasked with stopping a deep playmaker and used at an aerial out ball in support of a striker. The use of Martínez was affective but unusual from Guardiola as he is a dogmatic evangelist for possession football with attacking intent whilst Mourinho is seen as someone who will win by any means necessary.

In the first half, Bayern went out to shut down the game as the full backs were pushed out wide for defensive stability. In the second half, Guardiola let his team loose. He dropped Martínez back, allowed the full backs to push up and invert as well as bringing on Götze as a false 9. This meant Bayern swamped the midfield to gain a numerical advantage, they had as many as six players there. This led to Bayern getting all three goals in the second half with the last two coming in the final five minutes of normal time.

The reversion to his principles worked. This allowed Bayern to build up play through positional overloads before quickly attacking as Dortmund’s attack was stopped in the first half. By taking control of the midfield, Bayern had taken control of the game, “Suddenly the game changed colour. All we’re seeing is red” as Martí Perarnau put it in ‘Pep Confidential’ when speaking about the tactical changes made by Pep. However, during Pep’s first season in Bavaria, it was clear that Klopp’s Dortmund was the toughest tactical battle, one that made him think more and force him to try new things.

This battle has continued with Pep at Man City and Klopp at Liverpool, it’s often the team that strikes the right balance between space and possession comes out on top. During the aforementioned 0-0 draw at Anfield, both teams tried not to give the opposition too much of either as they were both wary of the attacking talent the other possessed. In this game, Man City had 50.6% possession to Liverpool’s 49.4% and the Citizens spent 51.2% of time in the opposition’s half to the Red’s 48.8%, this highlights how even it was between space and possession.

Out of the three games in Germany that have been mentioned, when Pep attacked in two, he lost both. In the victory, he was conservative and then let lose to get the win in the second half. In the 0-0, both teams looked to sit back as they knew the dangers of getting sucked in to attacking to be punished. However, in Pep’s win out of the three games mentioned, he was able to alter the game was substitutions but at Anfield, Kevin De Bruyne was missing meaning Pep couldn’t change the game too much.

Klopp’s Liverpool are the only real team to have challenged Pep’s Man City and cause them problems. Klopp knew going into the game if City slow the game down in the first half, they will punish his side if they come on too strong.

Their intense tactical battle started in Germany, but now it is present in England. Battles have been won and lost, but the war between the two clearly is not over.

What is an xG Chain?

The metric xG is predominantly used for strikers to measure how good they are. xA is used to credit creative players with the quality of their key passes. But what about the pass leading to the assist, the pre-assist? And the pre-pre-assist? And so on, do they not deserve credit for xG?

By looking at the possession chains and the xG of the shot that results from them, we can give credit to the players for their attacking contributions they make outside of the shots and key passes. The xG chain (xGC) is a straightforward metric that can be used to reveal the contributions of players involved in the earlier stages of attacking moves, such as (creative) centre-backs and playmakers. It gives analysists a simple way to highlight attacking contributions in pass maps.

How it is calculated:

Find all of the possessions a player is involved in.

Find all of the shots within those possessions.

Sum the xG of those shots.

Assign that sum to the player.

(Repeat for every player)

Any of action on the ball counts whether it is the first pass in a 50-pass build-up or the player who takes the shot, the credit is the same.

As with most metrics, they are put as a per 90, xGC/90. Usually, the players who have a high xGC/90 are going to be forward as they are more likely to be involved in plays which lead to a shot. However, Philipp Lahm was seventh in the 2016/17 for xGC/90 out of players who had played 600+ minutes. Lahm’s value of 1.38 xGC/90, 0.03 ahead of teammate Robert Lewandowski and 0.35 behind Lionel Messi’s 1.73 xGC/90 which was the highest in Europe’s top 5 leagues.

However, the values are still being dominated by xG from shots and xA from assists. There is a metric to give more credit for build-up play and some unexpected players are able to shine through. xGBuild-up is the same as xGC but the shots and key passes are removed from the possession chains to highlight a player’s involvement within build-up play. It does involve players who take the shot or create the key pass if they are involved in earlier parts of the play.

Now that there is a rough metric for attacking contribution, analysts can look at teams and see how balanced they are. Teams who are balanced tend to be more successful than those who are (over) reliant on a few players.

To see this, a Gini coefficient would have to be calculated for sides over their open play xGC/90 values (for players who have played 600+ minutes). The lower the value, the more balanced their attack is – a value of 1.0 would mean a team generates all of its xG through one player whilst a value of 0.0 means a team involves all of its players in every attack.

However, it is important to remember these numbers don’t necessarily tell the full story. In 2015/16, Leicester City won the league with a coefficient of 0.28 and RasenBallsport Leipzig (RB Leipzig) finished second the following campaign despite being in the bottom half for their offensive balance.

Although it can’t necessarily predict how well a team will perform, it is important in terms of recruitment and squad planning. It can act as a warning sign if a team is over-reliant on players in attack.

To conclude, xG chain is a flexible and simple metric. It can be used to expose aspects of attacking play that other statistics miss. It should not be used in rating a player’s offensive skill, it is evolutionary. It in fact builds on existing models and is another tool analysts can use.

Marcelo Bielsa’s 3-3-1-3

The Argentinian is hailed as one of the best coaches. His attention to detail and philosophy for attacking possession-based football has also made him one of the most influential people in football history. Managers from Pep Guardiola and Jorge Sampaoli to Mauricio Pochettino and Diego Simeone have all spoke about the huge influence the former Bilbao manager has had on them. Despite all this, one of the main things that people talk about is his unusual 3-3-1-3 formation.

As with all of his set ups, Bielsa’s 3-3-1-3 involves complex attacking movements and relentless pressing. He has used this formation at many Chile and Marseille and after their successes he has implemented it well at Elland Road.

They will start in a conventional 4-1-4-1 but will move into the 3-3-1-3 when in possession. As you can imagine, it is a fluid system which means the personnel in each line are interchangeable. One of the full backs will push forward which means the other one will tuck in to form a back three. As this happens, one of the central midfielders will move out wide to the side with the tucked in full back, this means the other central midfielder can move forward into the number 10 position. The wide midfielders in the original 4-1-4-1 will push forward to become wingers and form the front three.

The second line of three look to utilise the space in between the opposition’s first line of defence and their second. With them occupying the space behind their front line and in front of their midfield, this opens up passing options and creates multiple forward passing opportunities between the lines.

The two lines in front of this three are the aforementioned attacking midfielder and front three. The wingers in the front three are responsible for stretching the opponent horizontally and trying to get one-on-one opportunities with full backs. The striker’s job is to either occupying the centre backs or dropping deep to help link play and leave space for the attacking midfielder to make a forward run. With the wingers creating the width and the striker occupying the centre backs, this leaves the number 10 in a lot of space in between the opposition’s defence and midfield.

Many teams in the Championship play with two strikers up front who lead the press. With the three at the back, this creates a numerical superiority which is vital in build-up play as Bielsa wants to create overloads around the ball wherever possible. For this 3v2 to happen, Kalvin Phillips will drop in between the two centre backs who have split out wide meaning there will always be a free player in the defensive line.

When the ball is played back to the goalkeeper, Phillips will advance up the pitch, so he is behind the opponent’s press. This means it is now a 4v2 situation and Leeds’ four are in a diamond and Phillips creates a new passing opportunity that will break the first line of the press. When Phillips receives the ball, he will be in space and can turn to start a quick attack.

Passing back to the goalkeeper has another benefit as it encourages the first line of press to push up higher. That movement separates them from the second line of the press which creates space for Phillips or an advanced player to drop and help link the play. If a midfielder from the second line of the press follows Phillips or a player that has dropped deep, then Leeds can exploit the space he has created.

With good ball circulation the gap between the strikers opens up for Phillips. He can push up with the ball and make himself part of the midfield again. This is when Leeds can shift into their 3-3-1-3 and attack their opponents. With Phillips leaving the defensive line, a full back drops to maintain that three but Kalvin will be accompanied by another Leeds midfielder to maintain the numerical superiority, this team it’s a 5v4. Phillips and the other midfielder, often Mateusz Klich, move around so whoever has the ball will always have two open passing options infield.

Once they have moved the ball into the final third, they have two main ways of causing problems, either play into space or play into pressure to create space. By long diagonal switches, Leeds will try to exploit space left by their opponents. By playing the ball into possible danger, it draws the opposition to press the Leeds player in possession which creates space elsewhere for a player to make a darting run into.

If the opposition have a low block with only the midfielders pressing, Leeds form a triangle around a wide pressing player to create a 3v1. This draws out a full back and a central player which creates space in behind the full back and some space in front of the low block. Although the opposition have nullified the 3v1 to make it a 3v3, there is space for Leeds to pass into in dangerous areas.

If they want to play into the wide space, the striker will often stay in front of a centre back, so he thinks the striker is no threat. Whilst this is happening a central player will run behind the occupied centre back in a blindside movement. This has turned the 3v3 situation into a 4v3 situation with a player behind the line of pressure.

Because Leeds play with two players in wide positions, their management of space is important. The wingers will provide the width as they are hugging the touch line, this allows the other wide player, often a full back, to make an underlapping run. This gives the winger another passing option in a dangerous area in the half space between the opposition’s full back and centre back. If he is given the ball, he can hit the ball low across the face of the goal so his teammate has an easy tap in or so a defender might accidentally hit into his own goal.

Leeds are patient in build-up and with clever movement, once the space is created, they exploit it. They will spring an attack with quick vertical passes, often catching their opponent out. Once in the final third, more clever movement and intricate passing will lead to a chance being created. They have been excellent at creating these chances, just not taking them, which has seen them drop points in games they have dominated.

A wonderful team to watch in possession and hard work and organisation makes them a strong defence side. The only things holding them back are their finishing ability and luck.

How Robert Lewandowski Became the Best Player in the World

Since Hansi-Dieter Flick took over at Bayern in November 2019 they have looked unstoppable. In 64 matches, Die Roten have won 54, drawing six and losing just four times. As well as winning an historic treble, Flick has got Robert Lewandowski firing on all cylinders.

In 2019/20, the Polish international scored a career best 34 goals in 31 league games. In fact, under the German coach, Lewandowski has a staggering 61 goals and 19 assists in 55 matches. This averages out to a direct goal involvement every 60 minutes but how has he done it?

Fitness plays a huge part. In 10 full Bundesliga seasons, his longest spell out injured was four weeks. This has allowed him to score 259 goals in 338 games in the German topflight, averaging out to 0.77 goals per appearance.

Many thought his hot streak under Hansi Flick would come to an end but by the end of last season he was averaging 1.02 xG from 4.5 shots per 90 as well as 0.24 xA from 1.2 key passes per 90. This shows he is more than just a goal scorer.

This is no surprise as Pep Guardiola described the former Dortmund star as one of the most professional players he’s ever met. It is largely down to his diet which is made by his wife, Anna Lewandowska, a nutritionist and karate champion. This allowed him to work uncharacteristically hard for the side as in 2020/21 so far he has completed 152 tackles in just 17 league appearances according to the Bundesliga.

He has also become a lot smarter and played to his strengths. He is getting himself into better areas as 41% of his touches came in the opposition’s box during 2019/20. This is also highlighted in his shot location as in 2013/14, 22.9% of his shots came from outside of the penalty area whilst last campaign it was down at 13.3%.

However, being dominant domestically is not enough to be the best player anymore and Lewandowski has shown himself on the continent. During their treble winning campaign under Flick, the former Lech Poznan star bagged 15 goals and five assists in 10 appearances as they claimed the Champions League for the first time since 2013.

With the 2020/21 season being affected by the coronavirus pandemic, most top players have seen a dip in their stats. However, despite this and being robbed of the Ballon d’Or for 2020, Robert Lewandowski has continued to perform at an elite level.

Leicester City Vs Everton Preview

The two top goal scorers in the league this season go head-to-head.

Leicester City host Everton but the main focus will be on Jamie Vardy vs Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Going into this match, Vardy has 14 direct goal involvements meaning he is responsible for 58% of Leicester’s goals compared to Calvert-Lewin’s 11 being 52% of Everton’s goals. This is despite the Leicester striker being 10 years older than the former Sheffield United striker.

Jamie Vardy has 10 goals and four assists in 11 Premier League appearances this season although five of his goals have come from the penalty spot. In fact, according to Understat’s expected goals model (xG), 0.45 of Vardy’s 0.95 xG per 90 (minutes) comes from penalties, an unsustainable number.

Whilst Dominic Calvert-Lewin is generating 0.60 of his 0.75 xG per 90 from open play but unlike Vardy, he is running hot with his finishing. Calvert-Lewin has scored 11 goals from an xG of 8.88. This means over the course of the season you would expect this to level out and DCL’s goals to dry up a bit.

However, using the same xG model, Everton have the fifth worst defence, 16.93 expected goals against (xGA), and Leicester have the tenth worst, 16.19 xGA. This along with Everton having a total xG of 20.33, third best in the league, and Leicester having 20.10 xG which is good enough for the fourth best, points to this being an open game.

Leicester:

Last 10 games (all competitions): 6W, 1D, 3L

Have scored seven in their last three, only conceding one

Already have 26 Premier League yellow cards, a league worst

Everton:

Last 10 games (all competitions): 4W, 2D, 4L

Have scored five in their last three away matches but have conceded five in those matches

Have won four of previous four league meetings, losing the other four

Both strikers have been fortunate in the first 12 games of the season, but they should have chances to continue their streak in this match. The stats suggest this should be an open game, much like Everton vs Leeds.

Manchester United 1-6 Tottenham Hostspur

José Mourinho has had the last laugh over his former club as his Tottenham hit Ole Gunnar Solskjӕr’s side for six.

The Red Devils conceded six for the third time in Premier League history and the first since the 6-1 home loss to Roberto Mancini’s rampant Manchester City side in 2011. However, as bad as the home side were, all the attention should go to Spurs.

Tottenham looked confident and ready for the game unlike Manchester United. Despite going 1-0 down within the first two minutes due to a Bruno Fernandes penalty, the visitors stuck to their game plan.

A revitalised Tanguy Ndombele equalised two minutes later and not long after that the Lilywhites had taken the lead through Heung-Min Son. This was a sign of things to come as by half time Mourinho’s men had scored two more without reply.

However, before Tottenham added to their two goals, the home side were reduced to 10 men. Anthony Martial hit Erik Lamela in the face after the Argentine pushed the Frenchman as they were waiting for the corner to be taken. The red card didn’t change the course of the game as Man United never looked in the match, Tottenham just dominated from start to end.

In the second half, it was more of the same. The home side were second to everything and lacked organisation. A late penalty after Serge Aurier’s goal helped Mourinho’s side to six.

This results highlights the Red Devil’s poor transfer window. Their inability to get deals over the line has left the squad with obvious holes that need investment.

The result sees Tottenham pick up seven points from four games whilst Solskjӕr’s side have three points from their first three games.

Liverpool Vs Leicester City Preview

Brendan Rodgers takes his side to his old club as third hosts first.

Liverpool come into this match in mixed form. That 7-2 defeat at Villa Park will continue to hang over them for the whole season but since football’s restart in June, they haven’t been at their best especially their defence.

According to WhoScored, they’re conceding 8.5 shots a game. Although this is down from the nine they were allowing last season, the quality of these chances has increased. In 2019/20, Understat’s expected goals (xG) model said Liverpool should have been conceding 1.04 goals per game but post lockdown this jumped to 1.21. This season it has increased again to 1.26, a small increase from 1.21 but still enough for only the ninth best defence in the league. With players like Virgil Van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho and Joe Gomez all injured, Liverpool’s back line will have to be a makeshift one meaning their defence woes could get worse.

This is great news for Jamie Vardy. In just 561 minutes this term, he has eight goals and an assist giving him a goal involvement every 63 minutes. This means he’s been directly involved in 50% of Leicester’s goals this season. The English striker also has a great record against the “top 6” sides.

Leicester’s talisman has 54 goal involvements (goals and assists) in 67 matches against the “top 6”. It gets worse for Liverpool fans as Vardy has seven goals and an assist in 11 matches versus the Reds, he has only scored more goals against Man City and Arsenal.

With all of this in mind and Mohamed Salah testing positive for coronavirus meaning he’ll likely miss the game, would have Liverpool fans worried. However, according to Transfermarkt, he has only beaten Liverpool once in four meetings and he has never beaten Jürgen Klopp.

In fact, Leicester City haven’t beaten the Reds in the league since February 2017. This coupled with seven of the Foxes’ 18 goals have been penalties and Liverpool are unbeaten at home in the league in 63 matches, even winning 29 of their last 30, would cause concern for Leicester fans despite them wining their last four away league games.

This season in the league, Liverpool’s games averaged 4.25 goals whilst the visitors average 3.38. This points to a lot of goals in this match especially with Liverpool’s injury crisis. There’s every chance Leicester become the first away team in the Premier League to win at Anfield since Crystal Palace in April 2017.

Everything points to this being a game to remember.

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