Manchester City thwarted Liverpool in a Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium last Saturday. This season, Liverpool supporters seem to have gotten used to witnessing heavy defeats to more fancied teams )other than the 7-0 victory over Manchester United). Jurgen Klopp’s side are set to face Chelsea and table-toppers Arsenal in their next couple of matches, both of whom might go on to compound their misery.
Liverpool are in eighth place in the league table with 42 points from 27 matches. That is underwhelming for Liverpool, as the likes of Brighton and Brentford are currently ahead of them.
While Chelsea themselves are languishing in 11th place with 38 points from 28 matches, Arsenal are going to pose a serious challenge to the Reds by all means.
Tinkering with the formation
Liverpool have primarily played with a 4-3-3 ever since Klopp took over. While they have seen a lot of success under the 55-year-old German, it is probably time to go for a change regarding their tactics. Liverpool cannot afford to go into a match against a big team with three forwards, with their defense leaking goals on a regular basis.
One formation change that makes sense is a 4-5-1, with Mohamed Salah playing as a lone striker. The likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita, both of whom might leave
the club in the summer, could probably make their way into the starting eleven. Cody Gakpo, Diogo Jota and Darwin Nunez would thus start on the bench. Oxlade-Chamberlain and Harvey Elliott can play as the right and left midfielders, respectively, with Keita joining Jordan Henderson and Fabinho in the central midfield.
Having better ball retention in the middle third
Switching to a 4-5-1 is would help the Reds have better ball retention in the middle and final thirds. Roberto Firmino once did this so well for them in the final third until a few seasons ago, but he is no longer the player he used to be. As a result, Klopp’s much-vaunted high-press is no longer what it once was.
Klopp will have to set his ego aside here. He should understand that his team cannot afford to be too ambitious offensively at this juncture. Even the 7-0 win against Manchester United seems like a distant memory now. Hence, the Reds will have to alter their strategy to ensure points in their next two matches.
Liverpool should rely more on long balls and counter-attacks
Liverpool always look more dangerous when they play probing long balls into the opposition half. Even their lone goal against Manchester City came through a long ball played from inside their own half. With players like Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson in their side, that is the tactic they should employ against the big teams. Alexander-Arnold should be given some freedom to attack, with Henderson giving cover to him on the right.
The Reds will also need to play off of a low block most of the time, absorbing pressure and preparing to attack on the counter. With their defenders
not in the best of form, they cannot afford to attack in numbers as they did against City and subsequently get torn to shreds by their opponents.
They will also require the likes of Alexander-Arnold and Oxlade-Chamberlain to send in crosses into the box from the the wide areas of the pitch whenever possible. With good headers of the ball like Virgil van Dijk, Ibrahima Konaté, and Fabinho in the side, the Reds should look to score from set-pieces as well. Any such strategy might not satisfy the purists, but this is a pragmatic approach Klopp may consider in order to finish the season on a high.