A slow starting Liverpool staged a considerable comeback in the second half to beat Swansea 2-1 at the Liberty Stadium in Wales.
Jurgen Klopp made one change to the lineup that faced Hull City last weekend, with Lovren coming back from a virus to replace Ragnar Klavan in the centre-back position.
The shape was 4-3-3 with Henderson starting as a number 6 in front of the centre-backs, Lallana and Wijnaldum supporting him in the midfield. Coutinho and Mane flanking Firmino as front three. Lallana’s injury in early moments of the game meant Coutinho dropping in the midfield three and Sturridge coming in as the central striker.
Liverpool were slow to start and were easily giving the ball away when Swansea pressed them in vital areas of the pitch, counter-pressing situations were also few and far. The Reds improved considerably in the second half and got the reward in the end.
Let’s now turn our attention towards the tactics board and analyse few things about the game and also look at how Coutinho in midfield three could be an option for Klopp in the future :-
The above image shows the Liverpool shape and also an indication as to how they played against an impressive Swansea side.
In the first half, Liverpool were slow to react on any situation on or off the ball. They allowed Swansea to have the ball which in turn meant that Reds’ delicate defence will come into action very soon. It was as early as 5th minute when Swansea striker got between the centre-backs to put a free header just over the bar. The goal came from a crossing situation which is defensively becoming an Achilles heel for the Merseysiders.
As we see in the image above, it was a different game for Liverpool where they found it tough to break the press of the opposition. Swansea didn’t always high-pressed, it was more a mixture of high and middle press and tight marking of play-makers of the away side. What this meant is forced Liverpool back-line to be deeper and midfield also dropped as a result. So, when the ball went to Swansea’s back-line, they played out from back easily and Liverpool couldn’t press as a unit. On the flip-side, when Liverpool lost the ball while in Swansea’s half, they couldn’t counter press as a unit which was a disappointing thing.
The main reason behind Liverpool dropping deep and finding it tough to break the press was slow passing in key areas of the pitch, when you’re playing out from back, the passing needs to be precise and swift, any slow or a slightly wayward pass will be punished as the opposition are at your back every time.
In the second half though, Liverpool improved on this considerably which made it easier for them to get into Swansea’s back-line with open spaces. The Welsh side couldn’t press as a unit in tight areas in the second period. The away side got their equaliser in the 54th minute where a good reaction from Henderson after Coutinho’s free-kick was blocked by Swansea wall was the key element. The skipper just scooped the ball in the space behind Swansea defence which was trying to get up the field, Firmino intelligently made himself the space centrally and tucked in a free header. Smooth passing and quick transition from defence to attack enabled Liverpool to dominate the game thereafter and get the deserved winning goal via Penalty. One thing which was better in the second half by Liverpool was every pass in middle and final third area was meant to cut open the defence, there was no side ways or back ways pass whenever Swansea try to press, this opened up Swansea and Liverpool’s front men had spaces to work with.
Let’s see now as to how Coutinho in midfield three was a good move by Klopp once Lallana went off and why he can be an option for the German in future.
As we see in the image above, the position and movement of Coutinho with Liverpool in possession. We can see Coutinho’s position in the midfield three allowed Milner the freedom to move up from left back position on regular basis. The Brazilian dropped deeper to pick up possession and his ability with the ball meant Swansea has to mark him, this resulted in spaces for Firmino and Milner down that left hand side, Wijnaldum also tucked himself in for because he knows Coutinho has the quality to beat the marking and pick out players in dangerous areas. All in all, a good number 8 performance by Coutinho and Klopp may think to start him in the future games which will assure a place for Sturridge in central attack.
A mixed bag performance from Liverpool but the key thing despite all that was a win for the Reds. Swansea started well and pegged them back but second half Liverpool reacted well to the situation which should please Klopp.
Four wins out of the last four games in the league and Liverpool couldn’t be in much better shape to face Manchester United in two weeks time.
By Mizgan on 1st October, 2016
Twitter – @mizgans