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Article: Do Liverpool need a Change in System to Alter their Fortunes

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By Jonathan Lewis | 25th Oct 2022

Liverpool has begun the season in a rather poor fashion, dropping points regularly in the Premier League including against promoted side Fulham, at times the Reds have looked vulnerable defensively and toothless in attack.

Jurgen Klopp’s back four has not changed an incredible amount: defensive injuries including Joel Matip have led to Joe Gomez earning a place in central defence next to Virgil van Dijk and, at times, Kostas Tsimikas has been rotated in for Scotsman Andrew Robertson.

Outright Odds

Liverpool’s poor start has led to them becoming 22/1 relatively large outsiders in Betfair’s Premier League tips to top the league, ahead of Manchester City in May.

The midfield is perhaps where issues lie, especially with the injury layoff to Thiago Alcantara; in the Spaniard deep-lying playmaker’s absence, Liverpool struggled to remain compact off the ball and left the defence exposed to being overloaded by the opposition.

Liverpool’s right central midfield position has provided a bright creative spark this season, although the defensive vulnerabilities of the role should not be ignored. On the ball, the role offers time and space to pass as well as dribble, but off the ball, it provides little cover and is often positioned ahead of the play and unable to defend against transitions.

Equally in Liverpool’s left central midfield position Jurgen Klopp has been without a player of the required profile during Thiago’s time on the sidelines.

Switch-Ups

The Arthur Melo signing on loan is sure to be a huge help, despite Thiago recently returning to the matchday squad, another player that is tenacious and a keen dribbler as well as being extremely press resistant is a huge positive for the Merseyside outfit.

A switch to a different system may provide benefits for the side, a 4-2-3-1 could be deployed as opposed to the current 4-3-3. This would allow Liverpool to be more compact centrally, with two defensive midfielders being responsible for covering one side of the pitch each in transitions.

With the 4-3-3, allowing the right central midfielder an almost free role this would not alter the system much numerically when out of possession, but the structure would be much stronger, allowing the midfielders to cover space on the pitch more effectively.

The midfielders playing wider in a pivot would also provide more cover to the fullbacks and could perhaps mean they could return to their former style of overlapping rather than being positioned inside the midfield while in possession.

In terms of the attack, playing in a front four and as an attacking midfielder rather than an out-and-out winger could benefit Luis Diaz hugely, as the Colombian likes to play deep and narrow creating opportunities from within the half spaces or unleashing long-shot efforts.

A number of candidates could play the number 10 role including long-term servant Roberto Firmino, and Liverpool’s current team could provide the most suitable position for the Brazilian, as he prefers to play deeper and is not a threat to defenders when playing as a striker.

Finally, a system change would also benefit Mohamed Salah, as a front four would result in the opposition having more players to mark and often not affording the luxury of double marking the Egyptian as many teams have done so this season.

Results need to improve at Anfield, and a system change could be the catalyst for change.

Jonathan Lewis is an MFF sports writer

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