Derby Battle: Number Twenty Has To Be Number Nine

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Liverpool’s Lack of Goals Could Cost Title Race

Aside from all the manager talk that’s brewing just now, there’s a massive game coming up. As we edge closer to the crescendo of another exhilarating Premier League season, the iconic Merseyside derby looms, promising a contest that could defy the goal-laden expectations that typically accompany Liverpool’s bouts. This will be a tight and turgid affair, where it’s hard to see more than a few goals maximum. This is where Jota will be key.

Photo by IMAGO

“I was waiting for my chance for the whole game until that point. I knew I was probably not going to make [play] all the game because I’m just coming back after around three months. So, yeah, it’s really important for me that I took my chance today and will take that into the next game.” It’ll be as important in this one as well.

Wednesday night’s derby teeters on the precipice of being a cagey and circumspect encounter. Everton, fighting tooth and nail to avoid relegation, are likely to adopt a 4-1-4-1 formation, possibly with Doucoure marshalling the space just behind the industrious Calvert-Lewin. This strategy is poised to reduce the creative bandwidth of Liverpool’s typically fluid attack.

Klopp’s Tactical Chess

Despite Jurgen Klopp’s commendable record against Everton, history whispers caution into the ears of the Reds. Klopp’s men have frequently found Goodison Park a challenging fortress to breach, and the German tactician is yet to mark many victories on Evertonian soil. The statistics from previous encounters spotlight a successful but restrained dominance, with Klopp securing 11 wins in 18 games, a mirror to his cautious pragmatism against the Blues.

Jota’s Pivotal Role

In a derby that promises few clear-cut chances, Diogo Jota’s acumen in front of goal will be indispensable. Considering his admirable average of 115 minutes-per-goal and 88 minutes-per-assist, excluding penalties, Jota embodies Liverpool’s best bet for a breakthrough. His predatory instincts, as evidenced by his non-penalty goal involvement, could pivot the match in Liverpool’s favour.

Possession vs. Pragmatism

Liverpool’s recent continental skirmish against Atalanta and their domestic tangle with Fulham have laid bare a pattern. Players like Quansah and Konate, alongside the ever-reliable Alisson, frequently figure in Liverpool’s build-up play, and we have dominated possession. This inclination to circulate the ball among the backline may serve them well in controlling the game’s tempo, even as Everton stands resolute, compact, and willing to concede possession. However, the issue then becomes the lack of penetration and chance creation. Calvert-Lewin will be happily waiting ready to press Konate or Quansah, who’ll be struggling to find space in a packed middle area. We’ve seen this pattern recently.

Anticipation Builds

Everton’s tactical blueprint will likely welcome Liverpool to weave their intricate tapestries around the back and through midfield while they focus on congesting space and breaking on the counter. It is within these finely drawn lines of tactical warfare that this derby will unfold. The plan will be simple for the blues: contain, fight and keep it tight. Calvert-Lewin so what you can when it’s knocked up and be aggressive everywhere. Then hope Tarkowksi pinches one from a set-piece. It’ll be ugly, but they hope effective.

Final Whistle Forecast

As the Merseyside derby approaches, fans are strapped in for a match that’s likely to defy the high-octane expectations set by Liverpool’s goal-rich season. With Everton’s backs against the wall and Klopp’s previous expeditions to Goodison being less than prolific, all signs point to a taut and tactical affair. And it is within this theatre of strategy and nerves that Diogo Jota could be Liverpool’s ace, possibly as a decisive number 9, drawing on his clinical finishing to tip the scales. In an ugly turgid affair, chances will be few and far between. Number 20 has to be the 9 on this one.

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