Liverpool continue their pursuit of European football today and can take a huge step towards achieving that goal by capitalising on the poor form of Tottenham Hotspur.
Welcoming Ryan Mason’s outfit to Anfield, there is hope around Merseyside that a routine win is in the offing given the recent misfortune that the Lilywhites have suffered.
Their 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Newcastle United is still fresh in the mind, but having battled back from two goals down against Manchester United, that most recent 2-2 draw will somewhat buoy a tired-looking side.
Amongst all their struggles, Harry Kane has remained the one consistent performer up top. The English marksman simply knows how to score goals, and will likely prove to be Spurs’ main threat today.
Therefore, Jurgen Klopp will seek to neutralise him with a few personnel changes.
Although Joel Matip may well have scored the winner last time out, his defensive exploits can hardly match up to the dominant presence Ibrahima Konate provides. Having been confirmed as not injured for their recent win over West Ham United, and therefore fully fit to play a role today, surely the £36m Frenchman is due a return to the starting lineup.
Will Ibrahima Konate start vs Spurs?
Despite having only made 13 league appearances this season due to various ailments, the 23-year-old remains a top defender when available, capable of battling with the very best forwards in the game.
His 6.84 rating for this stuttered campaign perhaps underplays his importance, as he maintains an 88% pass accuracy alongside 1.5 interceptions, 2.2 tackles and 3.5 clearances per game, via Sofascore.
For comparison, his partner Virgil van Dijk only achieves a higher pass accuracy and slightly more clearances of those four metrics, outlining the lack of a huge gulf in quality.
Journalist Leanne Prescott even outlined the importance of the £70k-per-week star, writing earlier this season after his international call-up: “Delighted for Konate. Remarkable what a difference he’s made when available this season.”
With Kane silently boasting a fine goalscoring season, with 24 to his name in the league, many have perhaps forgotten just how impressive this finisher can be due to the notoriety of Erling Haaland’s achievements elsewhere.
But scoring six in his last seven in the Premier League, despite having only won one of those games, is a testament to his relentless qualities.
Expected to dominate possession and enforce their will on the game, the Reds will look to kickstart most of their attacks from the back. With Konate alongside the aforementioned Dutch goliath, both of whom are fine ball-playing assets, this will allow them to play around Kane, frustrating the 29-year-old.
Then, due to the strength and speed of the former, he can stick tight to the £200k-per-week star out of possession and use his physicality to ensure he earns no joy in front of what is sure to be a hostile Anfield atmosphere. It is time for Konate to once again prove why journalist Charlotte Coates dubbed the defender a “monster”.
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