Midweek saw Liverpool draw 1-1 with Napoli in the Champions League. The Anfield result means that the Reds will now visit Red Bull Salzburg on matchday six knowing that they have to avoid defeat – a win will secure top spot in the group. The result wasn’t the only disappointing outcome of the tie with Napoli, Fabinho picked up an injury which will see him sidelined for the rest of the year. The Fabinho injury could trigger a switch in formation for Liverpool.
In the second half against the Italians, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain entered the fray and the Reds switched from a 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1 formation.
This is a set up that Jürgen Klopp has used on a few occasions in order to see out the game; it is a system that provides more protection in front of the back four with the added defensive midfielder.
With the Fabinho injury exposing a dearth of quality in defensive midfield, well, of the same standard as Fabby, the gaffer may decide to sure up the area with another player until the Brazilian is back.
The benefit of this system is two fold: not only does it add more defensive assurance, it also gives more freedom to the attacking midfielder.
If we were to play with a 4-2-3-1 on a more regular basis, we would likely see Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain between Mo Salah and Sadio Mane, behind Roberto Firmino.
However, this restricts the creativity of Bobby and asks him to play as more of a traditional number nine. Firmino tends to come deep to receive the ball, with The Ox in that space, the striker will have to remain more advanced.