Jurgen Klopp sprung a massive surprise with his team selection for the trip to West Ham on Saturday evening.
Ahead of the match, the German boss revealed that Sadio Mane could return two weeks ahead of schedule after his hamstring injury. However, Klopp appeared to confirm that, if Mane was involved, he would be coming on as a substitute.
“Sadio trained the first time with the team, and looked really, really good,” Klopp said.
“It looked like he was ready for 20-25 minutes but we have to wait to see how his body reacts to the session.
“Obviously he has not lost his ability and skills in the injury break so that is good.”
Well, Mane’s body must have reacted very well to training because Klopp included the Senegalese international from the start against the Hammers.
Klopp also included Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for his full Premier League debut for the club but there was no Philippe Coutinho or Jordan Henderson.
With Liverpool playing 4-3-3 under Klopp for almost the entirety of his reign on Merseyside, it was expected that Oxlade-Chamberlain would join Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum in central midfield while Mane would join Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino in a front-three.
However, many Liverpool fans noticed something different.
Club legend Jamie Carragher quickly realised something was up and, within minutes of the match starting, tweeted “Back 3 for Liverpool.”
The Sky Sports pundit was wrong, though.
Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Ragnar Klavan and Alberto Moreno formed a traditional four at the back.
But Carragher soon noticed what Klopp had done.
“Looks like Salah off the front with Ox wide. 4231, not often Jurgen moves away from 433!” Carragher tweeted.
Ahead of the back four, Can and Wijnaldum formed a midfield two. While the away side were outnumbered in the middle of the park, Mane, Salah and Oxlade-Chamberlain ran riot in a more advanced role behind Roberto Firmino.
Liverpool’s tactics certainly seemed to work at the London Stadium as they ran out convincing winners.
Salah and Matip scored in the first-half to put them 2-0 ahead at the break. Manuel Lanzini pulled a goal back but Oxlade-Chamberlain made it 3-1 just seconds later.
Maybe we’ll see more of a 4-2-3-1 in the future from Klopp.
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