Liverpool will find Premier League stride with best formation
It was vital for morale and confidence that Liverpool bounced back from last Saturday’s Premier League defeat to Aston Villa with a victory over Ludogorets in the Champions League on Tuesday night, and whilst it wasn’t pretty, it may have given Brendan Rodgers an indication of his best set-up for the team.
September 19th, 2014
In both games this last week, Rodgers opted to experiment with the shape of the team, deploying two variations of 4-2-3-1 from the start. Only Lazar Markovic was replaced – by Raheem Sterling against Ludogorets – from the starting XI against Villa three days previously.
But Liverpool struggle to break teams down in this way. The system becomes far too rigid and the fluid, cavalier attacking football that once again became so synonymous with the club last season has gone.
With Ludogorets looking arguably the better team and certainly most likely to score, Rodgers rung the changes in front of the anxious Kop—bringing on Lucas Leiva and Fabio Borini and switching to a more familiar 4-4-2 diamond midfield formation.
Lucas and Steven Gerrard interchanged between the deepest tip of the diamond and left side, with Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson on the tip and right side supporting the all-Italian strikeforce of Borini and Balotelli up front.
The changes worked wonders as Liverpool settled back into the familiarity they worked on last season. Within minutes Borini had flashed a header at goal, producing a fine save from Milan Borjan, before Mario Balotelli finally broke the deadlock and his scoring duck for the club.
There were more goals to come in a frantic finish to the game, but the tactical change shifted Liverpool up a gear as the urgency crept in. They held on for what seems in hindsight a very important win—being the only English team to win in the Champions League during game week one.
The 4-4-2 midfield diamond, with whatever combination of personnel from Rodgers’ plethora of talent, simply works for Liverpool. Having lost two of the opening four games of the Premier League season, there can be no room for more slip-ups and stability will play a key factor in that.