Liverpool turned the corner at Villa Park, hitting six without response against relegation-threatened Aston Villa.
Jurgen Klopp had the luxury to start Daniel Sturridge for the first time in 2016 with Coutinho and Firmino in an attacking trio which can tear apart any defensive lineup.
It was a 4-2-3-1 formation with back four consisting of Toure and Sakho as centre-backs, Clyne and Moreno as fullbacks; Can and Henderson patrolling the middle of the park area; Milner, Coutinho and Firmino playing in behind Sturridge in a fluid attacking shape.
Let’s take a look on how Reds were shaped for the game and also ponder few things on how a fluid forward line can tear apart any opposition :-
It has to be said that it was all too easy for Liverpool, they hardly had balls in the box to defend against, the midfield was without pressure able to make transitions from defence to attack, the main talking point was the attacking line that just took it away from the hosts before they could realise.
Can and Henderson were good on the ball, frankly speaking they were not pressed by Villa midfielders and so were able to play out from the midfield easily, Can patrolled the back four and more often than not moved forward centrally to help out the attack, he was composed in his play and the goal must have boosted his confidence. Henderson was further forward of the two-man central midfield, he also moved forward a bit more centrally and was for the first time looked at ease on the ball since his injury.
In all fairness, the back four remained fully untested and their performance should not be marked from this game, as I speak tested, there were one or two opportunities when Villa threatened to go behind the back-line and Reds did looked a bit vulnerable, but less quality of the final ball from hosts never troubled Mignolet.
One thing that looked a bit rejuvenated was the forward line of Liverpool with Daniel Sturridge, how a player can make so much difference to an attacking system just remains to be seen.
We will tactically take a look at few movements of Sturridge and his attacking partners Coutinho and Firmino and see how this can lead to a good finish to an average season for the Reds :-
Now as we look at this forward line, Coutinho was on the left, Firmino was just behind Sturridge as a false 9, Milner tucked himself inside allowing Clyne to move forward, Sturridge’s movements were again mesmerising at best, when Liverpool had the ball in midfield, he tried to drift away from his markers and take the position in between the last line of defence and midfield line, he sometimes moves himself in wider positions drawing defenders and allowing midfield runners like Henderson and Can to go on and help themselves. Coutinho was again good on and off the ball, he started on wider left position but as the game went on, he tucked himself in like Milner allowing Moreno to move forward as Villa never had much joy from flanks, the Brazilian had the support of the fullback overlapping and so he was happy to draw defenders and make Moreno unmarked on few occasions. Firmino was again good in his false 9 role, he took several positions in the game where he can create something, he peeled away from forward positions when midfielders are moving forward and was happy to play supporting role to Sturridge.
Well it has to be said that Villa are going through their worst phases at the moment and this Liverpool performance should not be a marquee one to celebrate for their well-wishers and Klopp was quick to point that out, OK the return of Sturridge and few other players has rejuvenated them but they should know that it was too easy for them at Villa Park, but one real positive was the fluidity of forward line and presence of Sturridge just made things look simpler for the Reds in attack. A good win and Klopp should be quick to tell the players that they must not relax and rest on laurels of this win.
By Mizgan Ahmed on 15th February, 2016