Posted on September 28th, 2015
Liverpool returned to winning ways in the league on Saturday with a 3-2 win over Aston Villa. The win has lifted some pressure from Brendan Rodgers who has been under a lot of media scrutiny.
Rodgers came out after the match – which saw a welcome return to the goals of Daniel Sturridge who had been injured for 6 months – and implied there is a media agenda against him.
“There is a group that don’t want me here to be the manager. In all competitions we have lost less games than Manchester City and Arsenal. Obviously the hysteria around ourselves is interesting to know.”
It was important for Liverpool to get the three points as failing to beat Aston Villa would exacerbated the feeling of a developing crisis, especially with a midweek Europa League tie followed by the Merseyside derby away to Everton.
The derby is a must win game for Liverpool if they want to compete for the Champions League spots so take a peak at the betting odds for the derby because this is bound to be an explosive encounter.
How Brendan Rodgers’ side lines up will largely determine how his team fares this season. The loss of Suarez was always going to impact on the side and then losing Sturridge to injury last season cost Liverpool a crack at staying in the Champions League. Rodgers has had little option but to play with his best formation and now Henderson is injured he has another headache.
What formation should Liverpool be playing?
Brendan Rodgers has a number of team selection dilemmas to solve over and what system best suits his best line-up from the players available.
The 4-3-3 formation was widely use in pre-season for the Reds but Rodgers also utilised a 4-4-2 diamond shape and the Liverpool manager has a big decision to make over which should be his first choice set-up.
This has been Rodgers’ favoured formation since he started his managerial career at Watford and continued using it at Swansea and later Anfield before switching to get the best out of Suarez.
It’s worked relatively well this season with the Reds’ midfield looking strong and frustrating creative teams like Arsenal by limiting their possession and harrying well to reclaim the ball. However, it does have its limitations including being too open at the back exposing Sakho and Lovren at time. Prior to his injury the formation looked to be benefiting Henderson as he was building an impressive understanding with James Milner although that partnership had limited creativity when compared with the formations that get the best from Coutinho.
Joe Allen, Lucas and Can are all competing for the deepest role so playing Henderson or Milner there would make them less effective and there would be no space for Coutinho or Firmino in the middle.
Last season showed how important it is to have Coutinho in the middle, involved in the whole game rather than a cameo role from wide or cutting in and exposing his full-back. Sadly, wide is where he would be in a 4-3-3.
Coutinho brings the Liverpool attack alive and when on form and trusted in the middle he is clearly the best no.10 in the league.
4-4-2 Diamond (4-1-2-1-2)
So far this season the diamond has been the Plan B but if the Villa game taught us anything it’s that Liverpool’s attack functions better with this formation and with some defensive tweaks it could be the ideal Plan A.
It is the formation the players look most at home and where they are almost always in familiar positions. Despite that it was barely used last season but when it was used they were often emphatic wins either in performance or score line. Losing Daniel Sturridge made using a two made attack difficult so the 4-3-3 won out.
Liverpool’s players need to play to their positional strengths and it looks like some serious work has been done to improve the Reds’ scoring potential and using a diamond shape best facilitates that improvement. Coutinho and Firmino can be deployed in areas where they will be most influential.
Firmino could be partnered up top with Benteke, who is not as mobile as Sturridge or could take Coutinho’s spot at the top of the diamond whilst Coutinho drops into midfield. Whatever happens it is essential that Coutinho plays centrally.
Two strikers puts more pressure on the opposing defence which in turn creates more space for the midfielders to take advantage of and the system also lends itself to compact defensive work which will help protect the back four.
Whatever Brendan Rodgers decides he must be consistent with his choice. Tinkering with the formation too often will be counter-productive and increase the pressure on him.
Liverpool should be able to dispatch Sion with ease and hopefully take a bit of confidence into the derby where a win would create some momentum to fall back on when the players return from yet another international break.