Liverpool and Manchester United played out a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford where Mourinho for most parts of the game struggled to get it right but the moment he switched to old-fashioned long-ball tactics, Klopp’s men got found out and this is not the first time it has happened.
The Reds were on course for a vital away victory at Old Trafford and Klopp’s policy of stopping United’s midfield to pass the ball freely and make them work hard for their chances worked out pretty well. Mourinho made his changes early by bringing Mata and Rooney but lack of chances combined with good ground defending from made it tough for the home side.
In comes the last 10 minutes and Jose made a telling change by bringing on Fellaini, changing his style of play to more direct long-ball and more crosses into the box with physical presence. With the arrival of the tall, physical Belgian, United had two to three considerable appearances in the box to out-power Liverpool.
The equaliser came with Rooney putting in a cross which was won by Fellaini and ultimately the Belgian’s header ricochet off the cross-bar, the second ball was taken up by Valencia and he in turn crossed it towards Ibrahimovic who headed the ball into the back of the net.
Another instance where physical presence in the box and failing to stop a cross derailed Liverpool in terms of dropping vital points in a title-challenging season. It’s just not their cup of coffee, the introduction of long-ball and crossing style simply cause panic in their defence and the goal-conceding pretty much seemed inevitable.
This is an increased worry which needs to be sorted out as early as possible or else it may affect their current charge in the Premier League and other teams in future may pick them apart by this old-fashioned tactic. Stopping crosses has to be the number one priority, as long as the feeding area is stopped, the physical presence in the box won’t be able to do anything.
Ground defending has been good overall and was good in the game against United too, Lovren and Klavan were solid in central defence, anything grounded or slick thrown at them was dealt comfortably and it seemed something different will unhinge this defence. The moment high balls and crosses at heading heights were thrown, the defence started to panic and they couldn’t clear their lines.
Klopp was frustrated by Mourinho’s late tactic change but the fact of the matter is that he should be concerned by this and should be more focused on making improvements in his own defence and make them better equipped with all kinds of attacks that can be thrown at them.
Stoke too deployed this tactic when they visited Anfield few weeks ago, they led through a crossing ball which was dealt poorly by Lovren and eventual result was a goal conceded. They struggled to deal with anything aerial and Liverpool were lucky not to lose that game as Stoke struggled to defend their own goal.
Last season West Ham did the double over Liverpool in the Premier League when Slaven Bilic deployed crossing and long ball strategy against them, height of Carroll was enough to terrorise the back-line. Nothing much has changed this season and it has to if Liverpool are to continue fighting for the title and challenge in Europe next season.
By Mizgan on 17th January, 2017
Twitter – @mizgans