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.