The Uphill Task for Tsimikas in Robertson’s Shoes
With Andy Robertson’s unexpected shoulder injury throwing a cog in the seemingly unassailable Liverpool defence, the team finds themselves in a peculiar position of navigating the waters without one of their stalwart defenders. Andy Jones from The Athletic astutely delineates, “The 27-year-old [Tsimikas] has proven to be a capable backup to Robertson since arriving from Olympiacos in 2020,” cementing the belief that Liverpool, while in a precarious position, aren’t necessarily treading uncharted territory. However, he continues, “even if his chances have been limited to 18 Premier League starts. He is well-liked in the dressing room and earned cult-hero status among fans when he scored the winning penalty in the 2022 FA Cup final shootout against Chelsea.”
A Glimpse into Tsimikas’s Playstyle
When delving into what Tsimikas might offer to Liverpool in the light of Robertson’s unforeseen hiatus, Jones offers insights by noting, “It illustrates that he is a threat, creating opportunities from open play both in deeper, outswinging crossing positions and when he gets to the byline and cuts the ball back.” He further quantifies Tsimikas’s influence, explaining, “The left-back averages 34.6 touches per 90 minutes in the attacking third in the Premier League. It is more than Robertson (29.7), who has played significantly more games, and it is higher than both Luis Diaz and Mohamed Salah’s average in the same time period.”
However, it’s more than mere offensive prowess that Kostas brings to the team. His defensive acumen, while showing aggressive flair with a “true” tackle completion rate closely shadowing Robertson’s (56.9 per cent to 56.3 per cent), exhibits a player who isn’t afraid to engage and challenge in pivotal defensive moments.
Navigating the Tactical Change
Jurgen Klopp’s shift to the 3-box-3 system brings an additional layer to the table. Where Robertson managed to mould his role, adapting to perhaps quell his attacking proclivities at times, Tsimikas finds himself in a system that might not naturally accentuate his abilities. Andy Jones highlights, “In the only Premier League game Tsimikas has started since Klopp’s formation switch, Liverpool conceded four to relegated Southampton.” This might illuminate a potential obstacle in Klopp’s scheme to retain the team’s consistency without one of their defensive linchpins.
Tsimikas’s role within the new tactical framework beckons scrutiny. His predilection to advance and engage in the attacking third, while a vital asset, may require temperance under the 3-box-3 system which restricts the unbridled forward thrust of the left-back. It’s a conundrum that hinges on whether Tsimikas can recalibrate his natural game to meet the exigencies of Klopp’s system, thereby ensuring that the rhythm and reliability of Liverpool’s left flank remain unscathed in Robertson’s absence.
The Way Forward: Uncharted Waters or Smooth Sailing?
Whether Tsimikas’s impending tenure as Liverpool’s primary left-back will be a passage of vindication or an unwelcomed challenge remains uncertain. The dynamics under the spotlight extend beyond mere positional play; it’s about seamlessly integrating into a role carved and perfected by Robertson, without destabilizing the kinetic balance of the team.
The narrative remains to unfold as Liverpool, under Klopp’s meticulous gaze, navigates through the ebbs and flows of Premier League waters, with Tsimikas steering the helm at left-back. It presents not just a challenge, but an opportunity for the Greek international to ink his influence and perhaps, assure that the left defensive flank of Liverpool remains steadfast, and uncompromised.