The Big Match

Will the real spurs show up?

Will Harry Kane (above) have Fernando Llorente as his strike partner again in a 5-3-2 formation against Liverpool tonight?
Will Harry Kane (above) have Fernando Llorente as his strike partner again in a 5-3-2 formation against Liverpool tonight?PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Against Liverpool, Pochettino not ruling out the rare 5-3-2 formation that held Madrid 1-1

LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino has suggested Jurgen Klopp and his players should be prepared to come up against a surprise change in formation and tactics when Liverpool face Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley today, with the manager emboldened by the success he enjoyed in changing Spurs' approach against Real Madrid in the Champions League.

Tottenham departed the Bernabeu on Tuesday having earned a 1-1 draw with the European champions. It was a highly impressive display, given they lined up in a rarely used 5-3-2 formation that had Eric Dier deployed in defence and Fernando Llorente given a starting role in attack, alongside Harry Kane.

Asked if he was considering another change of approach, Pochettino did not rule it out.

"Maybe," he said, in a noticeably relaxed and slightly mischievous mood.

"It was amazing because some people close to us said, 'When we saw the starting XI (against Real Madrid) we thought what the eff? What is going on in his mind?'

"And then at the end of the game they say, 'Oh, you are a genius.'

"It's not easy to explain. It's about trust. It's about a feeling the manager and the coaching staff have when deciding the starting XI.


  • Mauricio Pochettino has not 
    beaten Liverpool in seven meetings as Tottenham coach.

" Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't work. But after the game, if I win or lose, I cannot regret my decision."

Pochettino's strategy for the visit of Liverpool, a team he has yet to beat in seven attempts since joining Spurs in May 2014, will partly be dictated by who is available to him.

Left-back Danny Rose could make his first league appearance in nearly nine months, having made his comeback from injury as a substitute in Madrid. But Ben Davies is likely to start ahead of him, having recovered from illness, as Spurs go in search of a first league win over Liverpool in 10 attempts.

Dele Alli returns following a Champions League ban but midfielders Mousa Dembele (hip) and Victor Wanyama (knee) are out.

Pochettino praised their replacements, in particular 21-year-old Harry Winks, who earned his first cap for England in the recent World Cup qualifier against Lithuania.

"I am pleased because he has the quality to play the way he did against Real Madrid. He is showing great character and personality.

"Everyone is pushing and trying to improve. I am very pleased to have different alternatives to play, it is a change from last season.

"(Moussa) Sissoko, (Christian) Eriksen, (Eric) Dier, Winks, they are all helping and they know they have to work, not just play football.

"It is fantastic that they are able to hide the lack of players who can play in midfield."


Singtel TV Ch102 & StarHub Ch227, 11pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 22, 2017, with the headline ' Will the real spurs show up?'. Print Edition | Subscribe