With the start of a new season, there were a lot of expectations from Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool. The Reds did finish eighth last season but with new recruits that suit the German manager’s style of play, the Merseyside club were expected to shoot out of the blocks.
That has not happened so far and with the side set to face Leicester over the weekend, there are questions being raised about the tactical nous of Klopp. The German constantly talks about his “Gegenpressing” football but that hasn’t worked out all too well this season.
This could be due to the fact that the Reds have switched to a 4-3-3 formation rather than a 4-2-3-1 which seems perfect for the high pressing gameplay that Liverpool want to use. Counter-attacking and pressurizing the opposition are basically the two facets of this kind of football and Liverpool have not been able to show either this season.
The Arsenal game was an anomaly as it was the Gunners that went kaput for a 20-minute spell in the game. Barring that aberration, the London club actually had decent chances and could have snatched a point had they been a little sharp in front of goal.
The use of the wrong personal is also an issue for the Reds. Playing Adam Lallana and Georginio Wijnaldum in the heart of midfield is a waste. The duo might be great in attack but asking them to constantly track back and defend really cuts their contribution into the side down.
The pressure also has to come from the forwards and the likes of Philippe Coutinho just don’t seem to do enough in the 4-3-3 when they are expected to do a lot of the defending right from the top. Sadio Mane has been the only player that has taken to this system really well but that is partly due to his incredible pace and attacking ability.
It really does not take a lot of thinking to see that things aren’t working out for the Reds. The lack of a proper holding midfielder is hurting them and playing Jordan Henderson in that role is not the solution. The Liverpool captain is perfect when it comes to pressing the opposition but having to stay back and cover for the defence isn’t his strong suit.
A pairing of Henderson and Emre Can is perfect to be honest. Both players can push and join the attack and Can can do the cleaning up act in front of the defence as well. That was the system that Klopp used for most of the season last time around. It is rather surprising as to why he has switched from something that was clearly getting better with every game.
The ideal frontline should feature Daniel Sturridge, with Roberto Firmino behind him and Sadio Mane and Philippe Coutinho on either side. Jordan Henderson and Emre Can would be the two midfielders holding forts.
The 4-3-3 works only if you have one adept defensive midfielder and Liverpool are not playing with someone who can do that job well at the moment. The quicker Klopp reverts to his 4-2-3-1, the better the performances will be and that should lead Liverpool to more wins than using the 4-3-3.