In Tuchel’s system, James is there to provide width from the right back, as his touch map in a recent game at Manchester United shows. This was also Alexander-Arnold’s role when he first broke into the Liverpool team, but positioning him now is more complex. His touch map in the draw with Tottenham shows a player who frequently receives the ball in areas you would expect from an attacking midfielder.
Opponents have a lot of work to do following Liverpool’s rotation down their right. Alexander-Arnold sometimes overlaps Mohamed Salah, other times he is on the inside while Jordan Henderson is at right back, while other times Salah keeps wide of him for one of Henderson or Alexander-Arnold to run into the box . Klopp will identify Marcos Alonso as a potential weakness.
Will Luis Diaz expose Cesar Azpilicueta?
Cesar Azpilicueta has been one of the county’s best defenders for almost a decade and one of Chelsea’s best signings in modern times, but he has endured some tough weeks.
With numerous defensive pieces moving around him and his future uncertain, Azpilicueta has been unusually vulnerable. His loose pass led to Arsenal’s third goal at Stamford Bridge last month, before conceding a late penalty and getting into an altercation with a Chelsea fan in the stands. The Spaniard also lost possession in the build-up to Richarlison’s winner for Everton against Chelsea.
Although Chelsea are assured of a back three, Liverpool’s narrow forward three mean these defenders are likely to face one-on-one battles. The idea of Azplicueta taking on Luis Diaz’s rapid changes in management will worry Chelsea fans. In the 2020 FA Cup Final, Azpilicueta was targeted by Arsenal with overhand balls for Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang down the left channel and injured his hamstring in the 26th minute.
Tuchel could opt to put Azpilicueta at full-back, where he played in the Carabao Cup final, and move James to the back three for more mobility. Trevoh Chalobah is also an option, starting in this position at Leeds on Wednesday.
Dealing with missing midfielders
Both teams took hits from injuries this week with Fabinho pulling on his hamstring and Mateo Kovacic unlikely to recover from Dan James’ fiendish challenge.
Fabinho is a master at winning second balls in midfield, protecting his two centre-backs and allowing Klopp to drive the numbers. Fabinho has won possession in the middle third 131 times this Premier League season, more times than any Liverpool player. He has made more interceptions than any Liverpool midfielder, while Thiago Alcantara is the only midfielder to have won more tackles.