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Liverpool’s Real Trouble

It could hardly come more surprise to anyone to find Liverpool to lose their home match against Swansea by 2-3. It is not going to be a ranting article. What I would be doing here is to summarize my thoughts on Liverpool’s performance over the year and evaluate reasons for their current dip in form. The article was coming for long now.

Note: For animation slide of tactical board below. The left Team is liverpool. 

 Tactical Board

  1. It is ok if we don’t win the title this year, we were never meant to win one.

What astonished me most about Liverpool is the performance that has taken everyone by surprise. Every team plays against Liverpool with the strategy of closing down space and parking the bus. Sadly though for Liverpool fans, results of the team against such clubs has been poor. Liverpool has gain highest Head to head points against top clubs but has lost 3 matches against bottom 10 clubs. It would be easy to criticize Liverpool’s defense but it is not the major reason.

I am ok with Liverpool finishing in top four. It is not about lack of ambition from me but with the quality of squad we have right now and with so many young players it is not something we should target Premier League win. Leicester city example sound’s good but lots of things had to be in the favor of Liverpool for winning Premier league. It is always not about the quality of your game that win’s you premier league but a team requires lots of luck and I am not making this view after watching 22 matches. If we look at the teams like Chelsea they have proven match winner and seasoned players in form Hazard and Costa and many others like Man Utd and Man City would have next season.

Klopp has prepared his strategy to explore the benefits of teamwork. The individual skills of players act’s like a dot in the circle if one fails it takes the whole team down and vice versa. But it is also where Liverpool’s strength lies. It is because of the strength the club is currently in the top four. So why Liverpool are struggling against small clubs?

  1. Liverpool should be happy with a draw than lose the match and at the same time patiently try to win the match. The 1-0 win is not a bad result.

If we look at the few results of Chelsea we can see some of the reasons for their winning trend. In their emphatic thirteen wins run they won their four matches 1-0 and all coming after 40 minutes and one coming at 76 minutes.

When opponents park the bus it is always better to play with patience. And talking about mentality, instead of waiting for right moments we are going with full throttle attack which is not always the solution. With Big clubs, Liverpool is great with defense since they don’t throw all their players into the attack. With this big clubs, Liverpool plays as a team to cover their back and goalkeeper. It helps them to defend well. But with small clubs, Liverpool sense the blood and they want to destroy their opponents. They throw the kitchen sink at it.

But with small club what happens is at with full blown attack by Liverpool, they open themselves to counter attack and provide lots of open spaces for the opponents. With those open spaces opponents are able to create a few chances and with some of them on target could be enough to seal a goal or win for them.

Here is the Tactical board (Click at the link) to explain them.

Note: For animation slide of tactical board below. The left Team is liverpool. 

Tactical Board

The strategy of Klopp could work with a team who would give Liverpool some space but with small clubs, Liverpool would require luck and patience to win matches. It also reflects negative mentality about Klopp’s strategy. For me, It shows a lack of confidence in attacking players. It shows that if they don’t score early then they may draw the match. It shows that if they don’t score early then their defense would leak the goal and they could lose the match. They should do what Chelsea did this season.

  1. How to break tough defense? Klopp needs plan B.

With so many players congesting for little space it would take great skills and tricks to make a goal-scoring move. The skills like one touch football, key passes, etc. And with few clear goalscoring moves, it is necessary that the goal is converted. It is the same weakness Man city has been affected. To mitigate the same the club needs to use long balls.

As mention in the tactical board (Click the link), it is extremely difficult to break such defense with short and narrow passes. Opponents would just reorganize and defend more spaces.

But with long balls, the players could always increase the pace of the game and stretch the opponents.

Tactical Board 1

Note: For animation slide of tactical board below. The left Team is liverpool. 

Tactical Board

Tactical Board 2

Tactical Board

It also helps that with the long ball, it forces opponents to have a lot of balls. With them having the ball we can play in counter-attack and have much-desired space to attack and create chances.

Tactical Board 3

Tactical board

It also helps us having players like Mane and firmino when opponents have the ball, the Liverpool players could counter press and win the ball. It not always helps to have possession of the ball.

Tactical Board 4

Tactical board

Right now only thing Liverpool are doing is keeping possession and trying to break them with skillful play. I don’t mind doing that but such skillful play requires a lot of players involved. And with that, we open up our self for a counter attack.

  1. No substitute of Mane – Lack of depth, camouflaging weakness and the static formation.

Mane didn’t get the credit for the work he does in the defense. People say that Liverpool’s weakness is defense but Klopp believes that counter pressing helps the defense and weak pressing would lead to leakage in goals. Here is where Mane is most valuable. His speed helps both with attack and defense. He plays from the back and within few moments he could become forward player helping with the attack. When opponents have the ball he runs back and helps to secure the spaces at back and could press the opponent players. He is great miss right now. We have not lost the match in which he has stayed on the pitch. With him gone,  it seems Klopp don’t have Plan B and another formation. With 4-3-3 and Lallana at the front is not working. He playing as a forward striker when his natural position is in the middle.

I think Klopp need to plan out different formation which would work when critical players missing. Currently, the formation is too static. To be successful in Premier League it is important to change your natural playing style and adapt to the style of opponents. The flexible team could only surprise opponents. With tons of money earned by the smaller team, they can compete with bigger teams in terms of statistics and planning. They are very quick to adapt to bigger clubs strategies.

Conclusion

I don’t think our defense is very weak the problem is when we play with connected dots i.e. linked play it is important there are no weak dots but that’s not always the case.  It is a good strategy but sometimes we should be happy withdraw when our A Plan fails to shine. We should play with patience and accept the draw with grace but keep pushing for the win without sacrificing goal.

Published inFootball