Liverpool can exploit new Everton hero James Rodriguez to their advantage in the Merseyside Derby on Saturday. The Reds really need a win.
James Rodriguez could provide the key for Liverpool on Saturday. He could also provide the key for Everton, of course – he’s probably their best player.
But the Reds can take advantage of him, too, and potentially win the game from it. It all depends on how daring they’re willing to be after the 7-2 Aston Villa defeat.
Everton will try and play through James. Why wouldn’t they? He’s played four games for them, scored three and assisted two. But that could become a problem on Saturday.
James plays as a right-winger under Carlo Ancelotti. He drifts inside, of course, but that right-wing position is where he moves from to do his damage. That might not work against Liverpool, though.
On paper, that means Andy Robertson handles James but if the Colombian is moving inside, he’s more Fabinho’s problem. That frees up Robertson somewhat, lessens his defensive commitment and means he can take more risks.
Importantly, though, on paper, James handles Robertson. If that’s his area of the pitch, it’s his job to cover Robertson’s runs. And Robertson makes a lot of runs.
That leaves James with a choice. Does he follow Robertson? If he does, he vacates the positions in which he does the most damage. That would effectively force Everton to play on the counter as James would be back in his defensive third for a lot of the game.
Or does he leave Robertson? We wouldn’t recommend that. Leave him free and the Scot will make you pay.
In truth, we expect Ancelotti to see this coming and change his side around, possibly into more of a 4-4-2/4-4-1-1. But even then, that’s advantage Liverpool if they can immediately make the table-toppers change away from their successful system.