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Talking Tactics

Walker-Peters ready for key role in tackling Liverpool

Adrian Clarke 3 Jan 2021
Kyle Walker-Peters, Southampton

Adrian Clarke analyses how the Southampton right-back can frustrate the champions on Monday

Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points in Matchweek 17.

SOU 1-0 LIV
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Under Ralph Hasenhuttl's guidance, Kyle Walker-Peters has developed into one of the most consistent full-backs in the Premier League.

The summer signing from Tottenham Hotspur has played a vital role in helping Southampton keep an impressive seven clean sheets this season, while also contributing to attacks at the other end of the pitch.

He was praised for making 11 tackles in Saints' goalless draw at Fulham on Boxing Day, and by winning seven of those challenges he became the most prolific ball-winner from tackles in the division before Matchweek 17.

The 23-year-old is quick, aggressive and relishes the defensive side of the game, so he is ideally suited to Hasenhuttl's pressing style. 

Most tackles won in 2020/21 (~MW17)
Player Tackles
Kyle Walker-Peters 33
Yves Bissouma 30
Stuart Dallas 27
Oriol Romeu 26
Aaron Wan-Bissaka 26

The right-back will have his hands full trying to contain Sadio Mane and Andrew Robertson on Monday, but he has rarely been overrun this term. 

A lot of Walker-Peters' success stems from his astute positional play, but his speed across short distances is key to why he is ranked so highly when it comes to ball-winning.

When opponents misplace a pass, he nips in quickly to retrieve possession. 

Best at regaining possession
Player Interceptions Player Poss. won
Matty Cash 36 Luke Ayling 111
Darnell Furlong 29 Kyle Walker-Peters 98
Kyle Walker-Peters 26 Andrew Robertson 96

With Hasenhuttl cleared to return to the technical area for Liverpool's visit, I expect Southampton to make a bright start. 

Saints have habitually flown out of the blocks, performing at a high intensity to terrific first-half success.

So far this season, Spurs are the only side with a better record before the interval.

Best first-half records in 2020/21
Team TOT SOU MCI
Half-time leads 8 8 8
Goals for 16 15 15
Goals against 4 6 5
Pts if match ended HT 29 28 27

This record should serve as a warning to a Liverpool side who have often started slowly.

The champions have led at the break only once in eight away matches, while only three clubs have conceded more than their 13 first-half goals.

However, if they fall behind early on, do not rule out a comeback from Jurgen Klopp's men. 

Liverpool have picked up 10 points from 1-0 deficits this season and are statistically the strongest second-half team in the division. 

Also in this series

Part 1: El Ghazi can hurt Man Utd in Villa's new formation
Part 2: West Brom aerial threat can upset Arsenal
Part 3: Stones has the game to stop in-form Giroud

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