Mo Salah has come under fire for some subpar performances. Would moving back to 4-2-3-1 help Salah recapture his form?
According to Whoscored.com, Liverpool have played 4-3-3 15 times in the Premier League this season. 4-2-3-1, on the other hand, has featured 11 times.
The former was certainly Klopp’s preference last season and he used it in virtually every game. The introduction of Fabinho, however, moved Liverpool towards a two-man midfield once he forced his way into the team.
But Klopp has always gone back to his trusted system when he wanted reliability. Liverpool have played 4-3-3 against every fellow ‘top six’ rival, usually reverting back to 4-2-3-1 for the ‘lesser’ teams.
The stats show that, too. 4-3-3 has eight wins, six draws, and a defeat. 4-2-3-1 has 10 wins, one draw, and no defeats. The former has certainly featured in tougher games.
The 4-2-3-1’s sole draw was at home to Leicester, and Klopp has used 4-3-3 ever since. Even against the likes of West Ham United, Bournemouth, Watford and Everton, Klopp has used it with mixed results.
There are a few differences between the two systems but one really stands out. Mo Salah, usually a winger, plays as a central striker in the 4-2-3-1. Salah is significantly better in that role, too, according to his output.
Again according to Whoscored.com, Salah has played that striker role 14 times this season and scored 15 goals with five assists. In comparison, he’s played on the right wing 21 times and scored just five goals and one assist.
That’s an enormous difference. Stats like this can’t tell us subtle differences and lack a lot of information and it’s important to remember that. But the difference in output here is so huge that Klopp has to consider it.
If Liverpool want to get the best out of their Salah, a switch back to 4-2-3-1 looks like a must.
It may not be Klopp’s favourite formation and it may not be what he built his team towards. But it does deliver results, particularly against sides that challenge Liverpool to break them down.
Liverpool will be strong favourites for every remaining game this season and a reliable goalscorer is a necessity for games like that. They’ll face ‘parked buses’ virtually every week.
Salah is the one who can score with consistency and moving back to the 4-2-3-1 appears to be the best way to recapture his form.