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Tactical Analysis on Liverpool Fc's 4-3-3 formation

Nigel is a Football (Soccer) fan since his childhood days. He also plays football as a Left-Back and is a long time fan of Liverpool Fc.

Liverpool Fc lining up for a pre-match photoshoot of the team.

Liverpool Fc lining up for a pre-match photoshoot of the team.

The 4-3-3 formation In General

The 4-3-3 formation was a re-vamped version of the 4-2-4 formation which was first played by the Uruguayan National Football team in the 1950 and 1954 editions of the World Cup and was seen again in the 1962 World Cup with the Brazilian National team. The initial 4-3-3 formation was played with 3 narrow midfielders that protects the defenders and to move across the field as a coordinated unit. The 3 forwards were playing in a wider position to spread out the attack where two of the 3 forwards are expected to mark the opposition's full-backs in order for the other forward to penetrate through the central defenders. In most cases, a 4-3-3 allows a defensive midfielder to be added into the squad as a defensive cover in the midfield.

Liverpool Fc's usual 4-3-3 formation for the 2019-2020 Premier League season

Livepool Fc's 4-3-3 formation.

Livepool Fc's 4-3-3 formation.

Jurgen Klopp's arrival and the integration of the 4-3-3 formation with his gergenpressing philosophy.

Jurgen Klopp's arrival to the Liverpool Fc team in 2015 saw the end of the Brendan Rodgers 4-2-3-1 formation. Most teams in Europe were using the 4-3-3 formation during that time, one prime example would be, Fc Barcelona, where they had Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar as their attacking trio.

Since Klopp's arrival, the Liverpool Fc team has been using a 4-3-3 formation, initially with Roberto Firmino moving into the striker role, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana completing the trio from the left and right wings.

Klopp was keen to immediately integrate his gergenpressing tactical philosophy in the early stages of his managerial reign but initially, he was experimenting with the likes of Coutinho, Firmino and Lallana upfront, with occasional appearances from Jordan Ibe in Lallana's place.

While 2016's summer transfer window signings such as Georgino Wijnaldum and Sadio Mane, the team has strengthened in terms of pace and creative passing. Sadio Mane provided a quicker moving right side while Coutinho continues to disturb the left side of the field.

This is how Liverpool Fc presses in a 4-3-3 formation

Liverpool Fc during the 2016-17 season

Liverpool Fc during the 2016-17 season

The rise of Trent Alexander-Arnold and the signing of Andy Robertson in the following year, has given Jurgen Klopp options to use Inverted Full-backs as another way to attack in numbers. Adding to that, the signing of Mo Salah has created an equal amount of pace in both the wings, allowing Liverpool Fc to have a pace advantage against its opponents.

Philippe Coutinho left in 2018, which means Klopp has to change his tactics, this is the part we will be focusing on this article, the rise of the current 4-3-3 formation and the players that make up the title winning squad.

Jurgen Klopp's most used squad since 2017/2018 season

Current Kit NumberPlayerPosition

1

Alisson Becker

Goalkeeper

66

Trent Alexander-Arnold

Right-Back

12

Joe Gomez

Central-Defender

4

Virgil Van Dijk

Central-Defender

26

Andrew Robertson

Left-Back

3

Fabinho

Center-Midfield/Defensive Midfield

14

Jordan Henderson (Captain)

Center-Midfield

5

Georgino Wijnaldum

Center-Midfield

11

Mo Salah

Right-Wing Forward

9

Roberto Firmino

Center Forward

10

Sadio Mane

Left-Wing Forward

The front trio

Liverpool Fc players celebrating after a goal against Leeds United Fc.

Liverpool Fc players celebrating after a goal against Leeds United Fc.

Mo Salah

Arguably one of the best fairy tale stories in world football (soccer), the return of the Egyptian King, Mo Salah to the English Premier League with Liverpool Fc. When Mo Salah was signed into the team, he was given the right sided winger position, a position where he has to play into the penalty box of the opponents. With his pace and a good eye for the ball, he was tasked to move the ball between the right-back and/or the center forward and make runs into blind spots to receive the return pass in order to score.

Roberto Firmino

Formerly an Attacking Midfielder, Roberto Firmino has now moved into a central forward role, playing as a false 9, which in layman terms, is a dummy striker role. The role of a false 9 is to divert the central-defenders to follow this striker so that the wingers can cut into the penalty box for a goal scoring opportunity. Sometimes, the player in this position will be the one to pass to before he/she makes another pass back to the wingers for a goal.

Sadio Mane

Another one of Jurgen Klopp's early Liverpool Fc managerial signings, Sadio initially played on the right side of the front trio, his task is similar to Mo Salah's tasks which is to make runs to a blind spot to receive the ball from the center forward or create passing chances.

The midfield three

Fabinho (Left) and Jordan Henderson (Right) celebrating a goal.

Fabinho (Left) and Jordan Henderson (Right) celebrating a goal.

Georgino Wijnaldum

Wijnaldum is known by Liverpool Fc fans as the dancer of the team, sometimes seen as a playmaker, Wijnaldum is able to play as an attacking midfielder as well. The task in the Liverpool Fc midfield for Wijnaldum is to support the attack from the left side, playing closely with the left-back and the left-winger in a triangular movement.

Fabinho

Also known as the eye of the midfield, Fabinho is the defensive midfielder of the Liverpool Fc team and the one who receives the ball from the back to start a build up from the midfield. Usually creating passes to Wijnaldum and Henderson for them to start the attack on the wings. Fabinho also supports the defense by dropping to the defending half and pressing to dispossess the opponent strikers.

Jordan Henderson

The captain of the team, Jordan Henderson plays on the right side of a narrow center midfield. Similar to Wijnaldum's role, the captain plays a triangular movement with the right-back and the right-wing to move the ball to the back or to the front depending on the attacking pressure.

Virgil Van Dijk with Liverpool Fc

Virgil Van Dijk with Liverpool Fc

The great wall of Liverpool

Andy Robertson

One of Klopp's newest Inverted full-backs, Robertson plays a huge role in the attacking part of the team as well as defending. Robbo's role in the team is to create passing opportunities to Sadio Mane and getting ready to receive a return pass in order to attempt to assist for a goal in an attack.

Virgil Van Dijk

Virgil Van Dijk is the center-back of the team, he is in-charge of most of the defensive work while being pretty good with a header. In this 4-3-3 formation, he plays the ball around with Fabinho or in some cases, provide a long pass to the wingers to start a counter attack.

Joe Gomez

Just like Van Dijk, Gomez's role in the 4-3-3 formation is to defend, but he is also tasked with providing passes to the midfield, creating a build up or to move the ball straight to a winger to start a counter attack.

Trent Alexander-Arnold

Similar to Robbo's role in the team, Trent is an inverted full-back playing on the right side of the field. His role is to move forward and support Mo Salah in an attack, providing passing chances and anticipating a return pass to attempt to give an assist to the attackers.

The Inverted full-back's role in this 4-3-3 formation

trent-alexander-arnolds-rise-to-the-liverpool-fc-first-team

The 4-3-3 formation is generally an attacking formation, but in the Liverpool Fc team, you would see Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson playing slightly higher up the field during an attack. That's because they have now become an inverted full-back, which is a left or right back playing similarly to a traditional winger.

Trent's role as the inverted right back helps in most attacks as he plays closely with Mo Salah at the front. Inverted full-backs play in a triangular movement with the midfielder and the winger to move the ball into an attack. Similar to Andy Robertson on the inverted left back role which he play closely with Sadio Mane in an attack from the left.

In short, you may see up to five players attacking at the same time, with both sides of the full-back moving up front to join up with the attacking trio. However, in certain times, the midfielders will too join up with the attack to make it 7 players simultaneously attacking, which will be hard on the opponent's defense.

© 2020 Nigel Koay Talks Football