Jurgen Klopp could return to 4-2-3-1 at Liverpool this month – if comments from November are anything to go by.
Liverpool are short upfront right now. The Reds have lost both Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane to the Africa Cup of Nations, of course, but both Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi are out injured.
There’s no Harvey Elliott to fall back on, either, meaning Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino are sort of it. They’re the only two recognised forward players – a big problem in a 4-3-3.
The other issue is that Jota has moved centrally to fantastic success. Playing both him and Firmino would force him wide, however – unless Liverpool change system.
And perhaps that makes sense right now. With Liverpool struggling for wingers, Jurgen Klopp could see a great benefit in changing his formation to allow for two central players.
Jurgen Klopp to change Liverpool system?
The alternative is to push players into unnatural positions or to force people together who perhaps don’t fit. And we’re not sure Klopp will want to do that. It’s something he did when Liverpool were short in defence last season and he now openly regrets it.
“I learned a lot,” he said, per Liverpoolfc.com. “I made mistakes, so it’s easy for me to look back and think, ‘That was wrong, that was wrong…’
“But in the moment when we made decisions, when we put the midfielders back and then played without protection in midfield, last line deeper, not really compact in a lot of moments, maybe we should have just played Rhys [Williams] and Nat [Phillips] completely together earlier and trusted the boys more.”
Putting everyone back in their natural positions proved to be a fix and a change of system could allow for that. 4-2-3-1, for instance, may suit Liverpool.
Jota could retain his centre-forward role, while Firmino can sit behind him as a natural no.10. Liverpool could then operate with wide midfielders, rather than wingers – which is something they’ve moved towards this season anyway. We’ve seen the wider players in the midfield three drift to the flank to offer width.
Using players like Fabinho and Jordan Henderson centrally and Curtis Jones James Milner & Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain wide feels like a fix right now. Or at least, is a way to ensure players are comfortable where they are.
And Klopp has gone with the 4-2-3-1 before. He used it back in 2018 after Fabinho arrived but wasn’t up to speed in the 4-3-3. It wasn’t until March that the Brazilian started a high-profile game in the latter formation.
But we could also be completely overthinking this. We’ve said before that Klopp could consider the 4-2-3-1 but he’s been very reluctant to go there since 2018. Right now, though, it does feel like a fix to a real problem.