Liverpool started the 2015/16 season under Brendan Rodgers who was given a chance to show his impact after a busy transfer season. Rodgers was always a manager who loves his team to have the ball for long periods and also dictating the terms in the mid-field during a game. So it was not a surprise that in his reign, he has bought in a number of midfield players into the squad in the last few transfer windows.
But the long trophy-less stay of the Irishman was cut short after the draw at Goodison Park and in came a charismatic Jurgen Klopp who had to deal with all the shortcomings of the squad. To start with, Liverpool genuinely lack any kind of width with Jordan Ibe as the only out and out winger in the senior squad. Klopp loves his teams to play with pace up front and often stretch defenses on the counter. He has not been able to use too many wingers but has done really well so far to extract what he did out of the remains of Rodgers.
The Rodgers philosophy and transfer management however gave Jurgen Klopp one of the deepest mid-fields in the Premier League. They have serious depth in this area and have an array of players to go for. The German manager has used almost all his players in his small reign and he will have already got a picture of how he wants his team to grow in the next few months.
In this article, we try and establish the best mid-field composition of this Liverpool squad.
The Manchester game is a superb example of how teams can thrive without a striker in certain games. City was a game Liverpool were not expected to win and hence the mid-field overload to try and press City in trying to limit their attacking prowess. In such games, Liverpool will have great joy with the forward line of Coutinho, Firmino and Lallana. They have shown some great signs in the last few games and can easily give the side plenty of goals going forward.
In other games, Liverpool will have Benteke or Sturridge leading the line and will need to have a settled midfield to challenge top teams. Klopp is known for playing the 4-2-3-1 formation at Dortmund. He has however played the 4-3-2-1 formation in most of the Liverpool games to try and stabilize their shaky defense. In all the formations, Brazilian Lucas Leiva has been a star player alongside Emre Can who has been very impressive under the new manager. Lucas provides the ruggedness needed in front of the back four. He has made a total of 24 interceptions at 2.18 per game and is a key player in the midfield for the Reds.
Can who was wasted by Rodgers as one of the three centre-backs in his system has come into life under Klopp as he looks like a terrific player in the middle of the park. He is ready to run with the ball and can also pick out his team mates sitting deep. He has the technique to create chances and will surely be a huge part of Klopp’s plans in the near future.
The summer signing James Milner has had a long run in the squad due to an injury to club captain Jordan Henderson. Milner has been described as a complete footballer by Jurgen Klopp and is a relentless runner. He will work hard all game and will give his all for the team. But he has lacked the final ball and incisiveness to break defenses and will face tough competition as Henderson nears full fitness. Henderson will surely start ahead of Milner as he can add a bit more in the final third.
The attacking midfield area is where Jurgen Klopp will have a dilemma. He has an array of players who are somewhat similar in their playing style. Phillipe Coutinho who has been fantastic off late in front of goal, Firmino who is slowly getting used to the English life and Adam Lallana who is growing in confidence under the new manager.
Coutinho is the start for Klopp and he will love to play him in all three games in a week that the club will play in the festive season. He has linked well with his Brazilian team mate Firmino who is starting to impress the Anfield faithful. Lallana who has finally got himself going for a stretch of games may well provide the back-up for both the Brazilians when Klopp decides to go with a lone striker up-front.
Other options for Klopp in the mid-field area are Joe Allen, Texiera and Jordan Ibe. All the players have had their moments of brilliance under Klopp, but the Brazilian duo should have an extended run in his new game plan as they will have time to understand each other. This part of Liverpool play has been the most criticized under Klopp and he will want to change it quickly providing all the help he can to his team-mates.
Have your say on what Liverpool’s best midfield formation is under Jurgen Klopp.