Liverpool struggle again to breakdown a well-organised defence

Mizgan Ahmed on 29th November,2015

Liverpool defeated Swansea 1-0 at Anfield, with James Milner’s 62nd minute penalty proving the difference but Liverpool’s struggles to breakdown a well-drilled defence continues.


Jurgen Klopp made three changes that featured against Bordeaux on Thursday, bringing Can, Lallana and Skrtel in for Lucas, Allen and Kolo Toure.

Let’s take a look at how Liverpool were lined up for this game:-


A 4-2-3-1 with Can taking the role as a holding midfielder and Milner running box to box. Firmino, Lallana and Ibe behind Benteke.

We now take a look at how Liverpool struggled to break Swansea down and what they should do to break opponents down who sits deep and defend.


These were the general positions of the players and we can Swansea had all eleven back when Liverpool were in possession, just how deep they were. Britton, Sigurdsson and Sung-Yueng Ki so close to each other and not allowing any free space for Firmino, Lallana and Ibe, Benteke was well marshalled by Williams and Bartley. Routledge and Ayew helping their fullbacks and not allowing Moreno and Clyne to run those overlaps easily and be free.

It looks very tight, Liverpool’s offensive players are marked here, every lower ranked teams does this to Liverpool at Anfield and so far the Reds haven’t found a solution to break it. It has happened more than a few times this season, Liverpool having lots of possession but decision-making is poor in that final third. Liverpool play a narrow formation, which means Lallana will be more closer to Benteke than going out wide and helping Moreno, when Moreno goes forward, he is being tracked back by Routledge and marked by Naughton, Lallana should be going a bit wider and helping out Moreno to create that 2 vs 2 situation. Its a bit different with Ibe though, he stays a bit wide so he gave Neil Taylor a tough time, eventually winning a penalty off him. Milner went wide on that right hand side and helped out Ibe which made it tough for Taylor and Ayew to defend. Benteke was marked by two centre backs and Firmino got occupied between Britton and Sung-Yueng Ki.

Now, what Liverpool should be doing to breakdown opponents who sits back is to try and mix it up, Liverpool look monotonous in these situations, when they go wide, they keep going wide and then they try to become narrow, they dwell on that for far too long. They need to switch plays quickly and try to open up the game a bit, let’s take an instance with Moreno having the ball and he is being marked by two players, what Moreno should be doing is to go back a bit and find Can or Lovren who then switches it to Clyne with Ibe wide and Milner supporting. This will take those players who were marking Moreno out of the game and one more who was marking Lallana in that side, that will make it 3 vs 2 situation with Milner, Clyne and Ibe against a fullback and player tracking back, by the time one more player comes, Liverpool would have created something. The other problem is less players making runs in the box, Lallana is very narrow and Firmino in that no 10 role should be making more runs in the box, they stay on the edge of the box hoping for a knockdown from Benteke but it never happens, the Belgian is up against two defenders, he rarely wins his headers. Both Lallana and Firmino should be making runs inside the box and by doing that, they give the crossers with an added option to aim at.

These are the things Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp need to work out if they have to lower ranked opponents who sits deep. Reds have to be more decisive in that final third, players should be making runs in the box and switching play needs to be looked upon in these situations.

People at Anfield will be hoping for improvements in this aspect and will be looking for forward to matches against lower opponents  being closed out earlier so that they can breath easy.


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