Liverpool’s procession to the Premier League title last season was built on the bedrock of consistency in terms of limited changes to the starting XI.
Manager Jurgen Klopp had a favoured XI which he stuck with for the majority of the campaign.
One of the challenges this summer was to sign players which could shake up his selections to make the team less predictable ahead of their title defence.
Both Thiago Alcantara [BBC] and Diogo Jota have done just that and have given Klopp multiple alternate systems to utilise in an attempt to throw off opponents who think they know what to expect when facing Liverpool.
The former in particular, looks like a ready-made option for Klopp to give Liverpool another element in midfield as the Spaniard has a meticulous ability to dictate the tempo of possession effortlessly making the game bend to his will.
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Against Everton, Thiago was nothing shy of mesmerising and clocked up more passes and touches than any player on the pitch at Goodison Park according to WhoScored.
Meanwhile, Jota has had a similar effect on his team after Klopp ditched his usual 4-3-3 system at the weekend for a 4-2-3-1 formation during a hard-fought 2-1 win against Sheffield United.
The system enabled Jota to start alongside Liverpool’s pedigreed front-three for the first time since his £41 million [BBC] move from Wolves last month as he became the first player since Sadio Mane in 2016 to score in his first two home Premier League appearances for the club after heading home the winning goal.
We are still yet to see the full effect of summer signing Kostas Tsimikas, who was brought in as cover for Andy Robertson but has been limited to just one appearance due to injury this season.
All over the pitch, Liverpool’s options are unpredictable. From defence, to the midfield, to the front-three.
It is uncertain which formation Liverpool will pick week-to-week now, after two crucial wins in Amsterdam and then at Anfield.
This will become a vital component for Liverpool this season once Klopp masters how best to alternate systems depending on the opposition.
Nightmare for opponents
Liverpool, therefore, become more difficult for opponents to prepare for thanks to the multiple options available at Klopp’s disposal.
In attack alone, the Reds have Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Jota and Takumi Minamino to alternate between competitions.
In midfield, Klopp is spoilt for choice as Liverpool currently have eight midfielders on the wage bill at Anfield with Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago, Georginio Wijnaldum, Naby Keita, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Curtis Jones all fighting for places.
The problem this season for the manager has been injuries, limiting Liverpool the opportunity to regularly unleash their best XI on a weekly basis.
The gargantuan injury setback to Virgil van Dijk has seen Fabinho slot into central defence whereas the likes of Thiago, Keita and Joel Matip have also endured fitness problems over the past week.
Once Klopp finds his best option and is able to keep his players fit over a sustained period, Liverpool will be dangerous. He has enough combinations to win, even in the absence of the best defender in world football.
Competition for places has never been higher at Anfield, and Liverpool finally have that in abundance. Now the Reds will have the right the wrongs of the past few weeks to rediscover the relentless consistency levels they were able to unlock over the previous two seasons.
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- Wijnaldum continues to prove why Liverpool can’t let him go
- Curtis Jones could be Klopp’s 2020/21 Trent Alexander-Arnold at Liverpool
- Fabinho and Gomez could provide perfect defensive solution