For the majority of his time at Dortmund, Jurgen Klopp deployed 4-2-3-1 as his starting formation with wide forward players tracking back for defensive assurance. But, since his arrival at Liverpool in October 2015, the German has used 4-3-3 along with his cardinal high press 4-2-3-1.
So, now let’s analyse both the formations and see which is far more suitable for the current Liverpool squad.
As we see in the image above, the 4-2-3-1 formation. In this shape, the wide forward players track back to help out the fullbacks stopping crosses in the process. The two central midfielders will have split roles, the defensive midfielder will sit in between the centre-backs protecting them, the other midfielder is like a roaming play-maker trying to help out the fullbacks.
While in possession, the roaming play-maker will look to link up play between the defence and attack. The two wide forwards will look to exploit the gap in between the centre-back and fullback or will try to cut inside for shooting opportunities, these two will tie up with the roaming play-maker more often than not. Number 10 will try and drop deep to recieve the ball and create a chance, he can play on the shoulder of the striker too when crosses are coming into the box, this will add extra pressure to deal for the opposition centre-backs. The fullbacks will join the attack from wide areas providing crosses for the forwards to attack, wide forwards cutting inside on more occasions allows a bit of space for wide defensive players.
As we see the 4-3-3 formation we can observe that wide forward players are not there track back and help out the fullbacks, here the wide defensive support will be provided by the wide midfielders. The front three will be flexible working in tandem.
While in possession, wide midfielders will try to be wider along with the fullbacks to stretch the game, it’ll double up the wide areas allowing the forwards to be squeezed in centrally and attack the spaces. For defensive cover, the defensive midfielder will sit in front of the centre-backs to avoid the counters. The centre-forward has more running to do in this formation, he’s more like a mixture of false 9 and poacher. He needs to make sure he drops to recieve possession and allow his partners some space by drawing defenders in and around the opposition penalty box.
Following our analysis, we can make out that 4-2-3-1 looks the way to go for Klopp and Liverpool as the current squad seems quite fitting for this shape. The flexibility in defence and attack makes it more exasperating to lineup against. This shape allows a team to press as a unit more efficiently, the three forwards behind the centre-forward will press the opposition back-line, the two midfielders will provide cover for them if the pressing is bypassed. The defensive pressing will also be more suitable in this shape, the wide players tracking back will allow them to press from deep too.
The 4-3-3 is not Klopp’s formation, he seldom used it in his time at Dortmund, since his arrival at Liverpool, he was forced to field a 4-3-3 just because of the lack of striking options he had due to injuries. This formation is mainly used to cut out the supply lines in central areas and against teams who rely more on intricate passing rather than depending on crosses in the box for goals, Arsenal in one such example. The pressing from deep areas will not be suitable to this shape, the wide forwards do no track back much due to the help wide midfielders provide to their fullbacks.
All in all, we can say 4-2-3-1 will be the formation that’ll be put out by the German manager and to go with it, the current Liverpool squad bodes well with that too. The ingredients are there for the taking, it’s upto the manager and players to make this a special dish and serve out something big this season for the fans.
By Mizgan on 22nd July, 2016
Twitter – @mizgans