In the early parts of the 2021/22 season, Jürgen Klopp seems to have changed Liverpool’s system. He’s ditched the 4-3-3 for a new look 4-2-4.
In previous seasons, the Reds would play a 4-3-3 that would turn into a 3-4-3 when attacking. The fullbacks would press up high and the defensive midfielder, often Fabinho, would drop into the defence.
This was to create overloads and allow them to press quickly if the ball was lost. The wingers would instigate the press on the centre-backs. Whilst this is happening, the centre forward and two central midfielders would close passing options in the centre. This was all to funnel the ball into wide areas.
In this system, there was a lot of pressure on Liverpool’s right flank. Right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, (right) central midfielder Jordan Henderson and right winger Mohamed Salah formed a great partnership. The trio’s attacking pattern meant they were in the right positions for the 3-4-3 and ready to press if there was a turnover in possession.
This season the right central midfielder has pushed up into the right wing, this has been Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Harvey Elliot. They do this as Salah has tucked into a striker role.
The centre-midfielder/right winger hybrid offers threat by progressing the ball through dribbles. This creates the space for Salah to drift into the half-space. As all of this happens, Alexander-Arnold advances into the space vacated by the midfielder-winger hybrid. This utilises his ability to cross from a central area. In turn, this has saw the full back’s heatmap become more similar to Kevin De Bruyne’s.
All of this has meant Liverpool now have an extra attacker in the box, Trent in a more dangerous position whilst not affecting Klopp’s famous gegenpress.
The German manager has solved Liverpool’s drop in performances with a simple yet effective tweak. The only question that remains is, where will they finish this year?