It appears as though Jurgen Klopp has changed his tactics because of VAR this season.
It’s not a drastic change – this is still recognisably Liverpool – but there is a noticeably higher defensive line.
Klopp, like most managers with top teams and a desire for possession, play with a high line. But against Chelsea on Wednesday, Liverpool were very high. At times they were playing an offside trap on the halfway line.
That’s something that would be enormously risky without VAR. A player could be marginally offside but get away with it in the pre-VAR world.
Now, however, any slight offside – see Raheem Sterling and his armpit against West Ham United – will be called. Suddenly, the advantage is with the defenders, if they get their trap right.
And it did work to perfection in the UEFA Super Cup final. Liverpool, for example, were caught offside twice over the 120 minutes (per UEFA). Chelsea? 11 times – a huge number. For some perspective on that, Chelsea weren’t caught offside once at Old Trafford on Sunday.
The Blues also had two goals chalked off for offside – further evidence of a plan well orchestrated.
Liverpool haven’t been flawless defensively so far. But, if Klopp has changed his tactics to take advantage of VAR, then we may have a reason why.
This is just the beginning, after all. Give it a few more months and the Reds may well have a very dangerous offside trap in their arsenal.