The Reds are top of the league and utterly uncatchable. Jürgen Klopp’s side have won 30 of their last 31 Premier League games. They are the best side in the world and yet, Liverpool are a long ball team – just in a way we’ve never seen before.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was the subject of much ridicule after Sunday’s game.
Manchester United had just been beaten 2-0 at Anfield by the best team on the planet. The Red Devils boss told Sky Sports that Liverpool are the “most direct” team in the league.
People laughed and poked fun but he is right, Liverpool are a long ball team. They are also a possession side, a counter attacking squad and a tiki taka force.
We can’t deny that Liverpool love a long ball. We’ve seen it all season, the difference is the range and variety of these passes.
Our long ball stats include inch perfect switches of play from Trent Alexander-Arnold to Andy Robertson.
The stats also include perfectly weighted balls over the top from the centre backs and deep lying playmakers – think Divock Origi v Everton or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain against Bournemouth.
However, the best Liverpool long ball is the one they don’t win.
We regularly see the ball arrowed to Mo Salah or Sadio Mane with little chance of the forward winning it – though we do win the second ball nearly every time.
As the ball is in the air, players swarm around the target. If Mo wins it he is able to lay it off or spin behind the defender.
If Mo doesn’t win the ball he puts enough pressure on the defender to force him to either put it out of play or knock it down to one of the onrushing Liverpool players.
Pay attention in the next game to how well The Reds follow passes not intended for them. Second balls are crucial and this is something that the lads have clearly realised and worked on.
If we can flood the space around hopeful passes even inaccurate balls can be capitalised on. Liverpool are a long ball team, they’re just doing it differently – they’re doing it better.