Having completed 18 factors clear on the prime of the desk, many rival followers will concern the Premier League title will go to Liverpool once more.
However a information for rival groups on the right way to beat them has come from an unlikely supply – Reds legend Graeme Souness.
Souness, who performed for Liverpool for six years earlier than managing them for 3 years, has understandably developed an enormous affinity for the membership.
He’s waxed lyrical about Jurgen Klopp’s aspect, who delivered the league title that no different Liverpool aspect may handle during the last 30 years.
Nevertheless, Souness believes that there’s a method for them to be crushed.
He wrote in his column for The Occasions: “The very first thing you need to do is match their work ethic.
“On the finish of the sport, you is perhaps speaking about one thing that Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino or Sadio Mane has completed or maybe Virgil van Dijk or one of many full backs, however the very first thing is to work more durable than the fellows you might be up towards, and all of them try this.
“It’s no coincidence that the groups who beat them earlier than coronavirus halted the season, Napoli and Atletico Madrid within the Champions League and Nigel Pearson’s Watford within the prime flight, have been ready to place a correct shift in. Final season, Liverpool have been the most effective workforce within the league, but additionally the aspect everybody least loved taking part in towards.
“The subsequent factor you need to be ready to do is take their midfield on in a bodily encounter. They wish to bully you, so you need to stand as much as them.
“That must be your start line as a result of they steamroller groups and you might be for ever in a bodily battle, whether or not it’s with Georginio Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson, James Milner or Fabinho. It’s important to meet that problem head-on after which, once you get the ball, you need to preserve it underneath strain, as Atletico did. It’s important to be technically ok to maintain possession after they come after you in midfield.
“Liverpool depend on their full backs for creativity. If there may be such a factor as a false full again, then Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson are it as a result of they’re actually additional midfield gamers, so you need to cease them getting over the midway line and delivering assists.
“They’ve the identical vitality within the 90th minute as within the first 5 and it’s usually an attack-minded midfielder they’re taking part in towards, who doesn’t benefit from the exhausting yards of working again in the direction of his personal aim.
“I’d be tempted to strive a extra defensive-minded, hard-working participant there towards them.
“The Liverpool groups I performed in by no means had wingers, except for Steve Heighway; the remainder have been huge midfield gamers, who labored their socks off as a result of we had no passengers after we didn’t have the ball.
“In case you can restrict the availability and affect of Alexander-Arnold and Robertson, it’s a good start line to stopping them.
“I’d even be selective in possession if I have been taking part in towards Liverpool. I’d not be rolling it out to my two full backs from the primary minute. As an alternative, I’d attempt to plant a seed that I’m not going to try this the entire time as a result of they thrive on closing you down and do it so nicely. Combine it up.
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“Actually, don’t kick the ball lengthy at Van Dijk’s head as a result of it is going to come straight again at you, or he’ll carry it down and play. So perhaps purpose it at or in behind Robertson and Alexander-Arnold.
“Create a little bit of doubt, so that they don’t know from the beginning that they will steal the ball from you in your defensive third.
“In case you keep in mind the primary sport of final season at Anfield, Norwich City had plenty of the ball and regarded good on the attention, however what was the rating on the finish? 4-1. In case you stated to Liverpool, what would you like from Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United on Saturday, Klopp would need them to play out from the again as a result of that performs to their strengths.
“You solely must create that component of doubt, to make some area to get your passes away. In the event that they really feel they will come after you from the primary minute, you might be in hassle.
“It’s important to get them to step again a yard and unexpectedly you can also make your passes, however you additionally must be a superb workforce technically to try this.
“In case you preserve giving it away cheaply, the clock is ticking and it is just a matter of time earlier than they punish you.”
Liverpool kick-off their title defence as they welcome Leeds to Anfield on Saturday, a sport you’ll be able to hearken to LIVE on talkSPORT, kick-off 5:30pm.