Jurgen Klopp debuted a new striker-less formation for the first-half of Liverpool against Genk. It could be an ingenious way of solving his midfield problem.
If Liverpool have had any problem over the last two seasons, it’s midfield output. Simply put, they don’t create or score enough from the middle.
That’s led to suggestions of signings to add a bit of spark. Not that it’s so simple. Liverpool are a fine-tuned machine and adding a midfield playmaker would impact others.
But in the first-half against Genk, Liverpool played a formation without a striker. That could be the answer everyone is looking for.
Divock Origi and Mohamed Salah played as wingers, as per usual. The midfield was very different, however. Naby Keita and Fabinho sat as a two, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gini Wijnaldum played as attacking midfielders.
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Without a striker, they were able to push forward and wreak havoc. Wijnaldum was even able to push into the six-yard box to score.
And importantly, because there was no striker, space was still there for the wingers to utilise. That, in turn, meant the full-backs could still push on. The fundamentals of Liverpool’s system were still there.
That was always the problem with the 4-2-3-1 – the static striker meant the team played very differently.
But this could be the answer. Liverpool looked solid defensively and created chances – all without some key players.
Add Sadio Mane and Andy Robertson to the left-wing and things will work better. Roberto Firmino is a natural fit for a free-role in the middle, too.
It would never replace Klopp’s trusted 4-3-3, of course. But as an alternative to add midfield creativity, the striker-less formation may have a future.