Jurgen Klopp could make a simple tactical change to help cover for the Virgil van Dijk injury. Liverpool will need to change things up somehow.
Jurgen Klopp certainly needs to do something in the wake of the injury to Virgil van Dijk. Liverpool are one of the world’s best teams, after all. If they want to compete at the top, they can’t simply carry on as normal.
The current system, style and mentality all involve Van Dijk, just as they involve every other key player. Without him, everything is weaker but if Klopp makes changes, perhaps he can find something else that works at the elite level.
And one change would be simpler but perhaps more effective than anything else.
The easiest way to stop the other team scoring is by not letting them have the ball. That is the philosophy behind possession football and it’s one nearly every major team has adopted over the past decade.
Subscribe to Rousing The Kop TV now
Now, Liverpool are a fairly possession-based side but Klopp may be inclined to lean into that even more. The Reds will certainly want to limit the number of times teams attack them, now that the defence is going to be weaker.
Liverpool had over 60% in three games so far this season – Chelsea & Aston Villa away, and Arsenal at home. They had nearly 60% against Everton. Leeds United, however, actually had more.
The team is definitely used to keeping the ball, then, although they can give it up as they did against Leeds. But they do differ from some possession sides in how they handle transitions.
When Liverpool win the ball, they attack quickly. They attempt to catch the opposition off-guard to score quickly. Now, that isn’t possession football – it’s counter-attacking.
But it’s something the Reds might try and drop this season. After all, it’s an idea that leaves them open to a counter-attack of their own, given their opponents are high up the pitch.
Van Dijk has been a key part of holding things together in that situation – teams can’t strike back quickly with him there. But instead, perhaps a new player should lead the side.
Thiago is the star signing and, crucially, someone who has developed playing very possession-based football over his career. He learned under Pep Guardiola at both Barcelona and Bayern Munich, thus is very used to that style of slower, patient football.
More than that, he’s used to being the key player in that style. He’s the one who controls the tempo and starts moves. If Liverpool lean into him and allow him to run games, they could find it easier to cover Van Dijk’s absence.
No, the football isn’t as exciting and it may not be Liverpool at their best. But as they look to cover Van Dijk’s absence it could be the easiest and most effective change Klopp can make.