Liverpool Lacking a Proper Play-maker in Their Set-up

Liverpool drew 2-2 with Manchester United at Old Trafford last Sunday in a Premier League match. The Reds thus dropped to the second position in the league table with 71 points from 31, which is the same as Arsenal’s tally, but the Gunners are ahead on goal difference.

Jürgen Klopp’s men had to bounce back from a 2-1 deficit to earn a draw on Sunday, as Mohamed Salah equalized from a penalty in the second half. However, the Reds should have been able to score more goals in the first half itself to capitalize on their dominance to put the match beyond United’s reach.

Liverpool badly needed a proper playmaker

The Reds started with a 4-3-3 formation, with Alexis Mac Allister and Dominic Szoboszlai playing as the two central midfielders ahead of Wataru Endō, the holding midfielder. However, the formation effectively became 4-2-3-1, with Mac Allister dropping back to play alongside Endō and help the latter in the pressing to win back possession.

Most of the times as the Argentine won back possession, he had to make runs down the middle to get to the final third. Liverpool lacked a proper No. 10 in a 4-2-3-1, as Szoboszlai is not the one to play as a typical playmaker.

The Hungarian midfielder likes to get near the box to take shots at the opposition goal, but does not quite have the passing range and composure in the final third to get the wingers and the centre-forward involved.

Mac Allister has played as a deep-lying playmaker at the beginning of the season, but having him as the No. 6 was again leaving their defence exposed often. Hence, the introduction of Endō in the starting XI was quite justified.

Still, because of the lack of creativity from a midfielder in the final third, the Reds are usually too much reliant on Salah to breach the opposition defence. Whenever the 32-year-old Egyptian is having an off day, as he did against Manchester United, it makes it very difficult for them to score goals from open play.

Luis Díaz usually has very good work-rate, but Liverpool’s opponents make it a point these days to guard against his and Andrew Robertson’s runs through the left flank.

The inability of Szoboszlai to spread the ball around in the final third helped the Reds’ opponents. When one compares them with Manchester City, who have Kevin de Bruyne, and Arsenal, who has Martin Ødegaard, the Reds fall short in that respect. Even Curtis Jones, who is used as a substitute primarily, has good passing ability, but prefers to play at a deeper position.

The Reds are still in the race to win the title

Liverpool is behind Arsenal on goal difference, but still has a good chance of winning the title for the second time during Klopp’s tenure as their manager. However, for that, they will have to win their remaining matches against the smaller teams, preferably by scoring an abundance of goals.

It remains to be seen whether the Reds are able to improve that component of their attacking play for the remainder of the season. Their chance of winning the title will depend a lot on that.

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