Jurgen Klopp has played a 4-3-3 formation at Liverpool since his first full season in charge. We had Philippe Coutinho on one side and Sadio Mane on the other with Roberto Firmino playing as the False 9.
Things changed when the Reds lined-up to face Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League. The 4-3-3 was gone and in place came a 4-2-3-1 formation.
The strange aspect of this formation was the striker leading the attack. It wasn’t Firmino or even Daniel Sturridge, but Mohamed Salah.
The Egyptian scored a brace and Firmino played behind him. Xherdan Shaqiri, who could have done Firmino’s role in that team, was playing wide right.
This felt like a one-off, maybe it had to do with Fabinho getting a game or maybe this had to do with trying to find the right place for Shaqiri in the side.
The “experiment” worked well as we picked up three points and a 4-0 win. Klopp stuck with the formation in our 4-1 win over Cardiff City, even though we didn’t attack as we did at the end of last season.
Salah seemed to be getting to grips with his formation, and Mane also bagged a brace in the win over the Bluebirds.
Our midfield featured Fabinho and the Brazilian was brilliant in both games. It has been a bit of a conundrum as to how we fit the Brazilian into the team. While we play three midfielders in our 4-3-3, there really isn’t a role for an out-and-out defensive midfielder.
That isn’t the case with our 4-2-3-1 formation that Klopp deployed in our previous games. The Brazilian is a monster when we get the formation right, and this highlights one key aspect for Liverpool this season, we have a second option for our formation.
Previously, we were stuck with the one formation and when things had to change, it would mostly be a like for like change.
Firmino would be replaced by Divock Origi or Dominic Solanke, James Milner would come on for Jordan Henderson, and so on.
Now, Klopp has something he can use to nullify and flummox teams. The 4-2-3-1 also gives us the option of shutting up shop with our midfield doing all the hard work.
We can have five midfielders protecting the back four, and even though this isn’t something that would seem like a Klopp move, it certainly goes with the plan of being more cautious at the back.
The Reds have only conceded four goals from 10 Premier League games, a pretty good stat considering how leaky we have been in defence in previous seasons.
Our manager spent big in signing Virgil van Dijk and then Alisson, in the summer, and the results speak for themselves. Liverpool are evolving, Klopp is evolving and our trophy cabinet should grow soon.