Talking Tactics

Son and Romero can dent Liverpool's title hopes

By Adrian Clarke 6 May 2022

Adrian Clarke says in-form Spurs duo will be key to success at Anfield on Saturday

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Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points and players who can be decisive in Matchweek 36.

Son Heung-minCristian Romero (TOT)

An outstanding collective performance will be required from Tottenham Hotspur if they are to pick up points at title-chasing Liverpool, but the contributions of two key individuals will also be a decisive factor.

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In attack, Son is in a rich vein of form, scoring ten goals in his last 11 Premier League starts.

The South Korean’s explosive pace, directness on the counter and clinical finishing has potential to hurt the UEFA Champions League finalists.

Argentinian centre-back Romero also has a critical role to play.

He has fast become a tempo-setting lynchpin for Antonio Conte’s side who defends with aggression, as well as starting moves with his ball-carrying and quality distribution.

Left-foot efficiency 

Son has always been a predominantly right-footed player, but in recent months, his left has been just as efficient.

He used it to score part of his hat trick in a 4-0 success at Aston Villa and last weekend, he curled a left-footed stunner into the top corner against Leicester City.

Son's goal v Leicester

Despite it being his weaker foot, 11 of Son’s 19 strikes this season have been with his left.

This in part explains why he is the division’s most lethal finisher, scoring with a third of his unblocked shots since the 2021/22 campaign began.

Best conversion rates
Player Conversion rate Goals
Son Heung-min 33.30% 19
Emile Smith Rowe 32.26% 10
Jamie Vardy 30.30% 10
Wilfried Zaha 26.67% 12
Riyad Mahrez 25.58% 11

*Min. 10 goals

One of Son’s best traits is his ability to sprint beyond the last defender to score goals.

His well-timed, angled runs from the left, into a centre-forward position, have given top-flight backlines nightmares ever since he arrived in north London seven years ago.

I would expect Liverpool’s right-sided midfielder to act as cover on occasion, while Joel Matip or Ibrahima Konate must also be ready to cut off spaces down that side too.

They will also need to be wary of Son popping up centrally when crosses come in from the right via January signing Dejan Kulusevski, who has already assisted five goals for the 29-year-old.

Harry Kane has set up Son for the same amount of strikes, two of which came from flick-ons for him to run onto against Villa and West Ham United.

Spurs best mins per goal
Player Mins per goal
Son Heung-min 140.95
Steven Bergwijn 171.33
Harry Kane 220.92
Dejan Kulusevski 343
Matt Doherty 437

This season, Son has been incredibly efficient, hitting the target with 44 of his 57 efforts, scoring 19 times.

Bagging them at a rate of one every 140.95 minutes is an extremely impressive stat for a player that has not taken a single penalty this term.

Romero's influence

Romero will experience a challenging 90 minutes at Anfield.

He has made himself a firm fans’ favourite with his combative style of defending and statistically he is the best ball-winning centre-back in the division.

Top centre-back stats
Player Tackles won Player Possession won
Romero  1.95 Salisu 7.59
Struijk 1.68 Romero 7.12
Chalobah 1.63 Struijk 7.11
Veltman 1.62 T. Silva  7.03
Godfrey  1.42 Christensen 6.67

*Min. 15 starts

Facing one of the best and most unpredictable forward lines, Romero will need to be at his very best.

How he copes with Liverpool’s movement will be interesting and he will also need to balance out his urge to get tight to them on occasion.

If he and Son play well again, Spurs can boost their hopes of a top-four finish and put a dent in Liverpool's title aspirations.

Also in this series

Part 1: How Jackson has led Burnley's revival
Part 2: Richarlison can provide cure to Everton's travel sickness
Part 4: Rodri can help Man City keep focus on title charge

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