Jurgen Klopp made one key decision against Arsenal right from the start. It makes his plans for the season abundantly clear.
Remarkably, Thursday was the third time already this season that Liverpool faced Arsenal. Arsenal have now won two out of three – albeit on penalties – whereas the Reds comfortably won the Premier League meeting 3-1.
And all three games have been notable for how Jurgen Klopp chose to set up against Arsenal. The most interesting of which came in the Community Shield.
Change of plans
Klopp started that game with Liverpool’s normal 4-3-3 but things weren’t quite right. The Reds couldn’t get going and trailing 1-0, the boss switched things up on the hour mark.
He went 4-2-3-1, bringing on Takumi Minamino to play from the left. That shifted everyone. Sadio Mane left that side to play on the right, Mohamed Salah moved to striker, and Roberto Firmino played as a no.10.
We thought it was fantastic at the time. The system appeared to break Arsenal’s down for the 30 minutes they used it. And the potential there is huge – Liverpool’s squad can absolutely play both 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1.
It looked as though Klopp may want to use dual systems this season but Thursday’s game suggests that’s not the case.
Sticking to it
If ever there were a chance to use 4-2-3-1 again, it’s when you’ve rotated the team. In fact, the starting XI Klopp named in the League Cup clash suited 4-2-3-1.
You had Curtis Jones and Marko Grujic for the middle. Then Harry Wilson on the right, Diogo Jota on the left, Minamino as a no.10 and Salah as the striker.
Instead, it was 4-3-3 again. Wilson played in midfield, Salah had his usual place on the right, and Minamino played centrally as a False 9. And that’s that – same old Liverpool.
Seeing as Liverpool were playing the team the 4-2-3-1 worked against and seeing as he had a ‘new’ team out anyway, the fact Klopp stuck to 4-3-3 is telling.
It firmly suggests that he’ll stick with the 4-3-3 system this season, even with a weakened team. It’s hard to complain, even if we do see the potential in 4-2-3-1.
The 4-3-3 has brought success to Anfield that we haven’t seen since the 1980s – if Klopp wants to stick with it then it’s fine by us. That certainly seems to be the plan, anyway.