Jamie Carragher has expressed his doubts regarding Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp’s counter-pressing system that adopts a high-line approach to defending.
Liverpool were imperious at the back from start-to-finish during the 3-1 victory against Arsenal on Monday night with the only sour talking point occurring mostly notably with Andy Robertson’s miscued clearance, which gifted Alexandre Lacazette the opener at Anfield.
The French forward had also been thwarted by superb goalkeeping from the hulking figure that is Alisson Becker in the second half, but the wider truth from such a relentless performance was a very dangerous Arsenal counter-attacking unit that had been nullified and restricted to a total of four shots in the entire encounter.
Despite restricting Arsenal to very little all game, it was a system that Carragher had his concerns over and is something he is not comfortable with.
“It’s something I am not 100% comfortable with, to be honest,” Carragher said on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football.
“It’s the only qualm I have when watching this Liverpool team. For me, I don’t know what the problem is for the [Liverpool defensive] line to be a couple of yards back.
“It’s a bit Russian Roulette really. It just feels like at times that the opposition go through on goal once a game and it’s not something I am comfortable with.”
Admittedly it is a risky tactic incorporated by Klopp but as Bayern Munich demonstrated in their Champions League victory last season, the rewards definitely outweigh the risks.
“We kept them within 25 metres in front of their goal,” Klopp explained in his post-match comments. “Each ball you lose is a potential counterattack; everyone knows the speed they have. It takes a proper mix between being brave, flexible, direct and being perfectly protected.
“You cannot defend Arsenal for 90 minutes with the quality they have. It’s completely normal that they have chances and you need a goalie for that, you need a block for that, you need all these kind of things.”
To expect total perfection from Liverpool, who dominated so much of the ball and dictated the tempo of the game, is divorced from reality.
“To outplay Arsenal you need a quite expansive formation,” Klopp pointed out. “There is a risk with the high line, but how can you defend Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with not having a high line?
“We punished them from time to time, killed a little of their match plan. They stuck to it, but we did it again and again.”
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Carragher is right to state that at times it can be uncomfortable watching Liverpool pressed so high up the pitch yet this was exactly why the Reds were so successful on Monday as they sucked the life out of Arsenal.
Liverpool were supremely relentless in and out of possession against Mikel Arteta’s side, making light work of their attacking armoury limiting them to just four attempts all game.
The reason Liverpool are so effective in their press is that they possess an array of quality throughout the squad that makes them so unpredictable in possession which was something Arteta eluded to after the game.
“We tried to put them under as much pressure as we could and we were really aggressive trying the high press in many moments, but Virgil van Dijk plays a 60-yard pass to Mo Salah’s chest and they are out,” Arteta said.
“Then you have to travel about 50 metres and this is real quality.
“They have a lot of good work, a lot of belief in the way they play, great recruitment and they’ve improved the players that they have. This is what we have to try to do.”
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