This season has seen a lot of changes occur at Liverpool - the biggest one, however, has been the shift in tactics.
Brendan Rodgers has been trying out several different formations and different players in various roles. However, over the past few weeks, he appears to have found a system that he likes: 3-4-1-2.
This system allows for the introduction of Mamadou Sakho into the starting XI, and crucially provides spots for both Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez in their preferred roles.
The positives of this shift have been immediately apparent: Sturridge and Suarez have been unstoppable goal machines, Moses has filled part of the void left by the injured Coutinho (despite his glaring miss against Crystal Palace), and when it all clicks the ball movement is a joy to watch.
But there lies the problem - when it clicks. So far, Liverpool have yet to put together a real complete performance. They might be winning, but Rodgers was quick to criticise the team’s performance, especially against Crystal Palace.
The Premier League new-boys could have easily drawn level had they taken their chances. There is much room for improvement, but it is a great sign that in this time of experimentation, Liverpool have been able to get results.
What can be done to make this formation better, though? For starters, getting first choice players back will be crucial in creating a well-oiled machine week in and week out for the Reds. Players such as Glen Johnson and Daniel Agger returning to the side will create a more solid defence and allow for more of a rotation in order to keep players fresh, not to mention the impact Coutinho will have slotting into his preferred free-roaming position.
It will be interesting to see if Glen Johnson slots in to the right wing-back role immediately to replace Jordan Henderson, who has been developing well but is still acclimating to life on the wing. Johnson’s attacking tendencies should be perfect for that sort of role, but it will take him a while to return to the fitness required for such a role.
Once the issue of player fitness is resolved, the only other major remedy is training. Rodgers must clearly outline the roles of each position to the squad each week leading up to the games until the players are completely familiar with the new system.
Based on recent showings, this will not take too long. All that’s left is for the players to stay fit over the international break, and Liverpool can really start to maximise the benefits of this new formation.
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