Liverpool travelled to London for the fourth time this season, claiming another vital away win at Crystal Palace. Attacking movements and flexibility being the difference a for the Reds.
Klopp made one change to the lineup that started against West Brom last week, Alberto Moreno coming in for James Milner in that left-back position. The shape was 4-3-3 with flexible forward line of Firmino, Coutinho and Mane; the midfield three of Henderson as number 6, Can and Lallana as number 8s providing inter-changing movements with the front three.
Let’s now turn our attention towards the tactics board and analyse how Liverpool performed and later we’ll see an image from the game which showed how subtle movements can be so horrible to defend against :-
As we can see in the image above, the Liverpool shape while on the ball. Crystal Palace allowed Liverpool to come at them for most parts of the game and as a result likes of Moreno, Clyne were high from fullback positions, Can and Lallana too made intelligent forward runs to help the front three. Coutinho, Firmino and Mane were always on the move inter-changing position wise and also moving to create space for others.
Coutinho was particularly fantastic on the day, his movements from out to in down that left hand side and also dropping deep sometimes to make telling passes were the key aspects. The Brazilian’s central runs are clever enough to out fox the opposition, whenever Firmino drags himself wide to take possession, Coutinho tucks himself in centrally and try to be a target for fellow Brazilian. He took two corners that were pin-point and both the centre-backs benefited from it by scoring goals.
Now, let’s analyse as to how movements from Liverpool front line works and why they are very difficult to defend against. Take an instance of Moreno having the ball down that left hand side, we can see the amount of options Spaniard has to release the ball, it’s their first aspect of play to increase options for a particular player on the ball. More options will lead to defenders getting sucked in these areas and other players can run in space created by this.
In this situation Can, Coutinho and Henderson are close pass options for Moreno, what this does is suck 3-4 Palace defenders in and around those three possible pass receivers. This will allow some kind of space for likes of Lallana from midfield and Mane from far side to make runs that really can’t be marked properly.
The other aspect of their play is movements off the ball, the so called unselfish runs from an attacking player to free up his partner. In this instance, Coutinho makes an unselfish down that left hand side resulting in atleast 1-2 Palace defenders following him, this run will create space for Can to run into and also Lallana to run into that left hand side from right midfield. These aspects suddenly increases the amount of options you’ve as an attacking team, it just gives more headaches to a defending side no matter how deep they’re. Requires a second of uncertainty in the back-line and they’re in opening you up.
As we can see in the image above, the second aspect of Liverpool’s forward movements, off the movements to free up space for others. In this occasion, Lallana found that gap in between centre-back and fullback and slowly drifted himself into that gap, this forced centre-back Tomkins to drag himself with the Englishman, this in turn created a whole lot of space for Firmino to run into and Henderson picks out the right pass to open up Palace’s defence. To be honest, it’s quite poor from Palace to get caught out so easily as midfield trio were just unfazed by the fact that gap has been created, their job was to close down Henderson and stop the supply.
Apart from the defensive mistakes and few nervy moments, Liverpool were in full control of the game and actually could have scored more than the eventual 4. Creating space out of nothing and close down the second balls has improved significantly this season, more improvement in defensive side of their game may lead them to one of their successful Premier League season after a long time.
By Mizgan on 31st October, 2016
Twitter – @mizgans