After months of injuries, Jurgen Klopp has a fully fit squad available for Sunday’s League Cup final with Jordan Henderson, Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino – the four most crucial elements needed to instil Klopp’s tactical system – set to start together for only the third time.
Since Manchester City continue to look weak in central midfield and disorganised at the back, Liverpool’s front three should be able to dominate in a way reminiscent of their 4-1 victory over City at the Etihad Stadium last November.
In the 6-0 defeat of Aston Villa, Coutinho drifted infield from the left wing to overload the central attacking third with Sturridge and Firmino, creating a three pronged attack that looked to burst into open space behind the backline via quick, incisive passes.
Henderson and Emre Can attempted plenty of sweeping long passes towards these three players at Villa Park, and this is the tactical style – sudden tempo changes and rapid transitions into a counter-style front three – that Klopp will be looking to introduce at Anfield long-term throughout his tenure.
This should hurt City. Injuries to key players means that Manuel Pellegrini is likely to field Fernando, Fernandinho and Yaya Toure – a trio that have consistently under-performed this season.
Toure is unlikely to effectively close down Henderson and prevent his distribution into the forwards, while Coutinho, Sturridge and Firmino will most likely find plenty of space in between the lines of defence and attack. Man City miss more tackles (12.4 per game) than any other Premier League team, with Toure (50% missed), Fernando (37% missed) and Fernandinho (37% missed) the main culprits.
A soft centre has undermined City throughout the campaign, and even with Vincent Kompany back in the side these problems remain. Christian Eriksen’s winning goal a fortnight ago came from Erik Lamela drifting easily through the centre (with the chasing Toure failing to recover after giving the ball away).
Given that City’s defenders do not look comfortable on the ball and the three central midfielders do not track opposition playmakers closely enough, Liverpool – who make more tackles (23.3 per game) than any other club – should be able to win the ball high up the pitch and flourish on the counter.
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.