Sanjay Nair discusses a potential tactical switch to a traditional 4-4-2 as a way for Jürgen Klopp to reignite Liverpool’s season.
It is official – Liverpool are a club in crisis at the moment and from the looks of it, it is going to take either something magical or a monumental team effort to get out of it. All this thanks to a terrible run to begin the year with, despite all our key players returning from injuries and other commitments.
It has been nothing short of baffling to see the transformation of Liverpool – from a side that annihilated everything in its path to one that is now clueless on what needs to be done in the final third of the football pitch. All in the short span of about 30 days.
Liverpool stuck to a script for the best part of three months with outstanding results, enough to be seen as genuine candidates to end a miserable 27-year wait for the Premier League title. What has since transpired is that a couple of teams at first decided to play the waiting, non-committal game which has been termed as ‘parking the bus’, to simply try to frustrate Liverpool and take home a point.
As the effectiveness of this strategy and Liverpool’s inability to respond to this became apparent, every other team ranging from Swansea to Wolves to Hull City grew in confidence knowing that they only need the odd chance to get a ‘smash and grab’ win. Liverpool’s players are now stuck in some sort of a rut, where there seems to be a mind-block on how to break down teams that defend deep. They are no longer creative simply because they are not given the space to run through packed defences or a clear shot on goal for the likes of Coutinho or Henderson.
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Perhaps the move to deploy a more traditional yet refreshing 4-4-2 formation change, coupled with a change in personnel, might be what Klopp needs to look at, even if only for the next 3-4 games.
The ‘Liverpool Way’, much loved the world over, was built on the 4-4-2 formation, adopted by the great Bill Shankly and carried on by those who followed with outstanding success. As for the change in personnel, there is no doubt whatsoever that Emre Can needs to be replaced with the more efficient and forward thinking Georginio Wijnaldum, who also has a better eye for goal as the crucial equaliser against Chelsea showed.
A run of games for Daniel Sturridge, in place of Firmino, purely for a more effective implementation of the new formation, is another option that should be explored. This will definitely see more attempts on goal as Sturridge is never one to shy away from shooting even from difficult angles. Sturridge and Mané as the two front men, Coutinho on the left, Wijnaldum playing on the right with Henderson & Lallana in the middle might just open up the floodgates once again.
Solidity in the middle with more attacking intent and unpredictability from two front-men who love to create havoc in opposing defences could be Liverpool’s ticket out of their current misery.
Sure, there might be doubters of the above tactical change stating that the game has evolved beyond the traditional methods and who will perhaps point to Conte’s 3-4-3 as a classic case against this. But then again, a bit of romanticism and tryst with the bygone golden era might just be the shot in the arm that Liverpool need to get their season back on track.
Follow Sanjay on Twitter if you share in his tactical thinking with crunch games against Spurs and Arsenal on the horizon.