An injury to Roberto Firmino forces Liverpool into a tactic they used against Atletico Madrid. West Ham United are up next for the Reds.
Jurgen Klopp confirmed that Roberto Firmino picked up a hamstring injury against Atletico Madrid. The Brazilian came off the bench but didn’t last long before heading down the tunnel.
It’s a real shame. Firmino has been in great form recently – Brighton aside – and played a key role in some big results. It sounds as though there’s little to no chance he plays against West Ham United, however.
The essentially puts the front-three in stone – Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota.
And with that, Liverpool essentially force themselves to stick with a tactic that worked wonderfully against Atletico Madrid.
Liverpool tactic thrives vs Atletico
Firmino is a perfect False 9. He drops deep, moves around the pitch, and give the midfield a constant option to build from.
Without him, Liverpool lack that pass between the lines. Diogo Jota just isn’t as good at it and is never really involved to the levels Firmino is.
Thus Liverpool need to switch things up. Instead of trying to play all over the pitch with Firmino, they focus heavily on the right-hand side.
Mohamed Salah now pulls all the way wide, opening up space between the full-back and centre-back. Trent Alexander-Arnold can then perform underlapping runs with Jordan Henderson. The trio make a wonderful little triangle that can work space on that side.
In fact, it’s so effective that nearly all of Liverpool’s play comes down that side. The Atletico game showed this off.
Alexander-Arnold had 138 touches in the game. Kostas Tsimikas plays the same role on paper but had only 66 touches – under half of his teammate. Henderson had the second-most touches in the game with 107, too.
And Salah had 91. Jota, Firmino, Mane and Divock Origi had 108 combined.
Liverpool, then, created everything down that right-hand side. Work space for players to either cross the ball into the box or work triangles that get Salah into the box.
The former opened up Atletico on Wednesday as Alexander-Arnold put in two deliveries that led to goals. The first for Jota, the second for Mane.
This lop-sided tactic helped Liverpool beat Atletico and it’ll almost certainly be the go-to on Sunday against West Ham. While Firmino’s absence forces the team into it, it’s effective enough that there’s no need to worry.
The Reds’ plan B is a great one.