After two seasons of reaching over 90 points and blowing teams away, Liverpool have found themselves in a bad spell. They haven’t been the team that won the league last season so far. That’s understandable. There was only a month break and they play and they play a high-intensity game.
This is Klopp’s first crisis. That’s partly down to expectation. Going into the season as League Champions, having also recently won the Champions League, Super Cup, and Club World Cup, they are a long way from the team Klopp inherited, a team which had a lot of players who would struggle to make it into any side looking to finish in the top 4.
A large part of Liverpool’s dip in form is injuries. That was always a possibility with their Gegenpressing style. The amount of energy expended in the past few seasons was always going to catch up with them after a short-turnaround.
It’s possible to be too loyal to a system, as it is to be too loyal to players. The system needs a reboot. There are too challenges facing Liverpool at the moment:
- Alexander-Arnold and Robertson don’t have as much licence to go forward with Van Dijk injured.
- The midfield 3 doesn’t suit Thiago in this system.
The solution in to adapt the 1-4-3-3 to a 1-4-2-3-1, or to be more precise, a 1-4-2-1-2-1. To allow the fullbacks to get forward, the centre-backs need more cover. This would mean playing two of Milner, Henderson, or Wijnaldum further back in a defensive midfield role to provide additional cover. Now Alexander-Arnold and Robertson can press higher up the pitch providing width. That width allows Thiago to go further up the field. With the DM’s being starting the press deeper, that provides Thiago with the permit to play in a number 10 role closer to Salah and Mane. Thiago can add to Alexander-Arnold’s and Robertson’s creativity. As for Salah and Mane, they can interchange into the center-forward role. Origi is a more natural center-forward than Firmino. He can also drift outwide to allow Salah and Mane swap into the number 9 role.
This small change would also prevent teams from being as effective on the counter-attack against Liverpool. There would be less space and opposing attackers would be forced out wide. Getting the ball back quickly would allow Liverpool to open teams up faster and hit them on the break.