Liverpool visit The Lane

Almost a perfect start to the season, I say almost as we have conceded one goal in our four games, but we have won the lot and in the embryonic stages of the Premier League table we sit on top with six points.

Liverpool visit The Lane


When Mauricio Pochettino was going to be appointed the research into him certainly made me think we had found the right man for the job, as articles at the time explained. He was a manager who players get on with, who plays a system that gets the best out of players, who would dampen expectation, build something and be around for a while. He was I felt the manager Daniel Levy had been searching for to stick with.

While most felt we would now need adjustment time to a new system I speculated that it wouldn't take the season it took Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool because the Tottenham players had played a version of his system before. The Andre Villas-Boas version contained many of the same things, the high line defence, the formation and the high pressing.

Pochettino has added the fitness to play the system, added speed when we have the ball from the pedestrians we were before, increased the intensity of the high press and added attacking ideas so bereft under AVB. The interchanging front four forces defenses to constantly have to make decision and the more they have to make the more likely they are to make mistakes.

It is early days and not a time to get carried away. The players are still learning the system, what to do in certain situations, both with and without the ball. When Liverpool visit The Lane on Super Sunday both sides will get an early test to tell them where they are this season.

Liverpool had a fantastic season last season and know their system well now but are not expected to reach those heights this time around, except perhaps on Merseyside. They have of course lost Suarez and nobody quite knows how that will affect them. Take Gareth Bale out of our team and we struggled, take their world class player out of their team and they could well struggle too, mind you I don't care about his reputation, Balotelli is hugely talented and a major player to replace him with.

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When the Italian grows up, whichever club he is at will have a world class striker so for me £16 million is peanuts for him. Like I think Diego Costa will do at Chelsea, Balotelli will thrive at Liverpool and bang in goals, but hopefully not this week.

Few would have complained if Liverpool had won the title last season and Stevie Gerrard could have picked up the trophy, he is one player who deserves it. You have to applaud and respect his loyalty in an age where it is unfashionable.

Last season we expected a thrashing at Liverpool with the side totally disinterested in the game and simply going through the motions until the seasons end. This season there is uncertainty in both camps and that makes for an intriguing tie that it's impossible to predict the outcome of with any certainty. It's a benchmark test for both teams.

The Liverpool captain acknowledges it will be a different Spurs but is confident they can take three points off us, as he told their club website reporter James Carroll.

"It's going to be very tough. Tottenham away is a difficult match. They've started the season really well, have a new manager and have their confidence and belief back. 
"We'll have to perform at our maximum to get the result we want, but we're going to go there for three points and we're confident we can get them."

A well known system missing it's star goalscorer verses a new system that has started encouragingly. It's not a tie to fear this year but one to savour.

Will the game keep our feet firmly on the ground or will the game simply raise our expectations to their usual level.




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