Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Missing defenders led Jurgen Klopp to genius tactical tweak in 2017

Missing defenders led Jurgen Klopp to a fantastic and successful defensive change back in 2017. Liverpool are once again short at the back.

Jurgen Klopp is currently short on defenders. He only went into the season with three senior centre-halves but he’s down to one right now. Virgil van Dijk may not play again this season, while Joel Matip has barely been fit for a year now – he’s out once again.

That leaves just Joe Gomez as the senior centre-half, with Fabinho deputising from defensive midfield. And so it’s worth remembering a game back in 2017 where Klopp again felt he lacked defenders.

It led to a drastic change for the team but a very successful one.


Liverpool travelled to play Brighton in early December 2017. Klopp’s squad was an unusual one, too, featuring just two centre-halves – Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan.

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There were plenty of centre-midfielders, however. Klopp had Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Gini Wijnaldum, Emre Can, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Marko Grujic to pick from.

So he used them. Klopp went 3-5-2, a very rare formation for Liverpool, and used two midfielders as defenders in that three. Can played on the right of the three, Lovren in the middle and Wijnaldum – who had never played there before – was on the left.


Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson played as wing-backs, which was hardly a drastic change for each. Henderson and Milner played in midfield with Philippe Coutinho, while Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah were a front-two.

(Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

And it worked wonderfully. Liverpool won the game 5-1 and dominated possession despite the unique formation change. You have to say, that’s a genius tweak from Klopp.

Perhaps we’ll see similar before long, then. Fabinho is already playing at the back thanks to the injuries and Wijnaldum is still here. Klopp also showed his willingness to shake things up by switching to 4-2-3-1 against Sheffield United.

It’s something that’s surely well worth a go.

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