Jurgen Klopp made a rare tactical change as Liverpool drew 3-3 at Brentford. It’s one we might see in the coming weeks.
Brentford 3-3 Liverpool was a game full of errors, particularly from Liverpool. In fact, you have to say that the hosts didn’t do much wrong for any of the Reds goals.
But Liverpool didn’t control the game, as shown by Brentford putting three past them. The league leaders had only conceded once in their opening five games.
That lack of control saw Jurgen Klopp make a rare tactical change around the hour mark. He took off Curtis Jones, brought on Roberto Firmino and went 4-2-3-1.
So why was that?
The problem with Jota
Diogo Jota is a fantastic goalscorer and he scored once again here. The 24-year-old found space between centre-backs to get on the end of a wonderful Jordan Henderson cross and head home.
He’s got a brilliant knack for scoring headers despite being not being an aerial threat. It’s really just down to Jota being tremendous in the final third – his movement is extraordinary both when Liverpool are in and out of possession.
But what Jota doesn’t do is link with the midfield. He doesn’t offer the same kind of False 9 that Firmino does and that can leave Liverpool lacking fluidity. It’s an important role that the Brazilian does. Klopp doesn’t usually use an attacking midfielder and relies on the no.9 to drop deep and get involved.
Jota doesn’t do that. In fact, he had 12 fewer touches than any other outfield player and only two more than Alisson. He’ll get on the end of chances but not necessarily start moves.
4-2-3-1 solves that issue, then. Firmino can play a traditional no.10 role and link midfield with attack. The other forwards can then focus on being a threat rather than moving backwards and starting moves.
It worked well as soon as Klopp made the change, too. Liverpool immediately created some good chances, including one that Mohamed Salah really should have buried.
We’ll probably see Klopp lean into this idea over the next week or two. Liverpool are short in midfield, with Thiago, Harvey Elliott and Naby Keita all out injured.
Sacrificing a midfielder and utilising four elite forwards makes sense, then. It’s something we saw Klopp do last season when Fabinho was in defence, though he shied away from it later in the campaign.
But expect to see more of this. It’s a system that gets all of Liverpool’s forwards in the side in positions that work, all while Klopp lacks his preferred midfield.