There were a few tactically interesting selections and changes about this game.
Liverpool’s initial lineup featured a double pivot which is a modification of their league formation 3-4-3 into more of a 3-2-3-2. Liverpool were set up to defend in the below manner.
Transition like :
And attacked like so:
This led to quite a few problems in attack, transition and defense.
In defense Liverpool had their left hand side shielded by Ibe, Gomez and Allen – two young players (one of whom is very attacking) and a possession focused midfielder. It was little surprise that most of Sion’s good play came from this flank.
Ideally (and in retrospect) Rossiter would have been the better option on the left. The young midfielder had a great game on the right and did well at nullifying threats in his midfield region. Allen did not fare quite so well which is not his fault as he is not a defensive midfielder.
This led to Liverpool having a very lopsided defense with the right flank solid (despite Can’s forward runs) and the left flank exposed.
Sion’s goal came directly from this weakness. Ibe was upfield (as he’s an attacking player) and Gomez made a mistake and stepped up (as he’s a young player still gaining experience) leaving the defence wide open.
Moving on to the transition phase: Here Liverpool had a problem of our midfield sitting too deep. The focal point of their transition (the man in the middle if you will) was missing. It would have helped, again, if Rossiter and Allen’s positions were switched. This would have freed Allen up to move forward into that hole and take charge of the transition. Something like this:
It seems a subtle difference, but controlling possession and dictating tempo are what Allen is all about. Liverpool needed him in the middle but the way Liverpool set up prevented it.
In attack Liverpool simply didn’t have enough attacking players to stretch their defense. Allen, Rossiter were too deep to offer a possession recycling option meaning we lost the ball too often.
Lallana, Origi and Clyne combined well for the goal which shows the advantage of passing triangles, but Liverpool simply didn’t have enough of them to take full advantage.
What really interested me tactically was our changes after half time. Moreno was brought on for Clyne which shifted Ibe to the right flank. Such a change would have weakened our defense even more had Rodgers not moved Toure to the right and Can to the middle.
The major change was in Liverpool’s transition formation where we know looked a bit like this:
Having Can in the middle could well solve our problem of getting the ball out from the backline in our first team. He’s much better on the ball than Skrtel, and seemed to hold his position well.
Defensively Liverpool looked solid enough in the second half – other than the left midfield problem which was no better for the change. What Liverpool needed was for Lallana to sit just a little bit deeper than he did and dictate play through his passing rather than his running.
Still, Liverpool created several good chances with the change and could easily have won by two or three had Origi and Ings taken their chances.
On the 60′ mark Coutinho was brought on for Ings in what appeared to be a straight swap. I unfortunately was unable to watch the rest of the game so can’t comment on what happened hereafter.
My overall feeling is that Liverpool were not set up ideally for the game. Swapping Rossiter and Allen could have given us better control over the midfield and thus the game. I can see why we didn’t because our left flank was weak defensively and we’d be reliant of young Rossiter having a good game. If he had a mare then our left flank would have been overrun.
Despite these tactical problems, Liverpool should have won this game. They created enough chances to do so, Origi and Ings failed to make the best of them for which they should carry some of the blame.
Origi looked bright and showed some good movement, but he seems to lack confidence in front of goal. Maybe a carry over from his last season at Lille were he was awful.
I’ve very interested to see where Rodgers goes with the Can in the middle experiment. Liverpool looked much better when he shifted there and I hope we see more of it in the future.