What Next? Part 2 - What Actually Happened

As I wrote a blog titled 'What Next?' describing the choices Jurgen Klopp had regarding his defence for the Huddersfield game I thought it would make sense to write a follow-up blog showing what our manager actually chose to do. At this point I must hold my hands up and admit I listened to the game live on the radio with my elderly parents (they refuse to get Sky, can't really blame them) but I did see the highlights. As I didn't get to view the whole game in real time I searched around for analysis on a number of websites and found 'This Is Anfield' did a very informative article on our defence against Huddersfield (Joe Gomez & Liverpool's Back Three Shape). I will mention some of the points in that article here.

Firstly, however, what happened to Dejan Lovren? His name appeared on the team sheet but then he suffered a last minute injury in warmup, we were told. Now, I'm not usually one for conspiracy theories but given the context of what's happened recently I couldn't help but feel something may be a bit fishy here. Did Lovren lose his nerve? Was it a ploy by Klopp to make it appear he backed Lovren but in reality he'd chosen to drop him? Or did Lovren genuinely injure himself in warmup? We may never know but the result was the appearance of a slightly underprepared Ragnar Klavan who apparently didn't realise he was playing until just before kickoff.

So, the game started with Mignolet in goal - not a big surprise - and the back line was Gomez-Matip-Klavan-Moreno. I mentioned in my original blog the way Klopp would eventually go on to set up these players but, in all honesty, I thought it one of the less likely options. What Klopp did was use Moreno as his main attacking full back while keeping Gomez tucked in with the centre backs to form a de facto back three with Klavan covering the space behind the advancing Spaniard. This can be seen below:

This arrangement reaffirms my faith in Klopp because it is so logical. On the one side of the pitch he has a defensively competent but not especially quick full back, on the other side he has an attacking but defensively questionable full back, while in between he has two occasionally defensively suspect centre backs. It makes total sense to send the more attacking full back forward and link the defensive full back with the centre backs. The possible drawback of such a system is that if the opposition can contain the attacking full back the scope of any attacks narrows to the centre of the pitch. However, against teams that are sitting deep, as Huddersfield were, there isn't excessive pressure on the attacking full back and there are three defenders in place to protect against any counterattack. I thoroughly approve of this approach by Klopp because he's set up the players in a way that minimises their weaknesses and maximises their strengths to create a strong, functioning unit.

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  • Definitely keeps the balance between attack and defense.  Our midfielders are not particularly defensive either so I'm glad Klopp changed things tactically.  Moreno tracking back was able to be more effective and had some good interceptions as Klavan was covering space on the left side.  Milner also, was responsible for less space so alot more effective as Gomez covered on the right side.  We can still be cut through on the counter if the opposition get enough numbers forward and play through the lines as we are not as compact.  The wider midfielder Wijnaldum/Hendo would have to cover the wider right with Gomez being tucked in.  Hopefully this new tactic will keep us defensively solid. our attack can do what they do best, but we do need a striker as a focal point. Bobby cannot fill that gap.

    • I don't think Klopp will use this tactic against every team or use it long term but it's encouraging that he's trying different options. Some managers would just keep battling on with the same tactics in the expectation that at some point they'll come good. Usually it ends with them getting fired.

  • Very well explained Sam and makes perfect sense. I think against the top teams this may not be a good tactic as their so quick on the counter and all that space in midfield would be exploited by them but against the likes of Huddersfield it could work, teams who sit deep, one to be used occassionaly i feel.

    On the Lovren situation, i feel he definitely bottled it, his head was definitely not in the right place and who's would after recieving threats against his family and i heard his wife also had an affair recently, whether true or not i don't know but if true no wonder his head is all over the place, he probably needs to be taken out for a while to sort himself out.

    • I've just read Lovren's house was targeted by burglars during Wednesday's CL match but they were scared away. Talk about having a run of bad luck, Lovren must've walked under a lot of ladders. If ever there was a time to put our criticisms aside and just throw our support behind a player it's probably now.
    • Christ, if it wasn't for bad luck this guy would have no luck, got to feel sympathy for him but when it comes to matters on the pitch, this is where my sympathies stop i'm afraid.

    • Anyone earning £100,000 a week can expect criticism if he doesn't perform but the criticism should be restricted to his ability as a footballer.  Threats to his family are way out of order and are a criminal matter.  The guy doesn't seem to have much luck.  He had to flee his home during the Balkan War and he's had marital problems.  I hope the crowd get behind him when he returns.  We may all want a replacement but that cannot come before January so he will need our support.

    • Don't forget he's also playing through painkillers at the moment because of that injury he can't seem to shift. By all means, if he plays badly then we should feel free to say so after the game but I hope those present at the game show him a bit of good grace and try and lift his spirits, afterall he is one of own.

  • Glad to see everybody supporting Lovren here. Hope he bounces back. Can anyone ever forget his winning header versus Dortmund?

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