Jurgen Klopp has assumed the huge role of revitalising Liverpool’s hopes in the Premiership. It’s a big task, especially when you look at Liverpool’s midfield. Based on the FM database we can see that their central midfielders are sorely lacking for pace. Apart from Emre Can, there is no-one in midfield who has significant pace. In fact their best tackler happens to be the slowest player in midfield.
Liverpool is a side that doesn’t have a hatchet man in midfield. The lack of bone crushing tacklers puts them in a particular tough spot, and this to some extent explains why their previous manager Brendan Rodgers elected to play with some version of a 3 man defense. His hopes rested on being able to park up to 8 in the middle if they had to. Furthermore, the call to have a high press could alleviate some pressure. The presence of Luis Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling only served to gloss over the glaring gaps they had in midfield
Liverpool fresh from their win over Rubin Kazan, were up against a side they haven’t beaten since that fateful 3-3 draw that ended their title dreams in the 2013-14 campaign. Klopp elected to field Coutinho on the left with Origi on the right. In the middle they had the sluggish Lucas Leiva, the slowest midfielder in the Reds camp. Benteke would receive the support of Adam Lallana and most notably Emre Can. What struck me as strange was the 4141, which is really the poor mans 4231. When you do not have pacey midfielders, make a 4141 and hope you have the stamina to cover the ground. By having Coutinho on the left, Moreno’s runs now needed careful consideration. This was a Liverpool side that was really tired and sluggish.
When we take a look at the Palace system, its built to frustrate and it employs a high press with a high defensive line. The pace of their attacking midfield strata was a major concern for LFC, and Lucas Leiva well, he doesn’t have the legs to control midfield . Emre Can is a crucial cog in Liverpool’s midfield and I hope to see him play the majority of games. Liverpool’s 4141 was still in trouble against a 4231 from Palace employing a heavy pressing style from the front line.
In fact the first goal Liverpool conceded was a direct result of a mistake from the keeper that was caused by the high press. If you look at the tackling spread for LFC, you will notice something stick out.
Both the tackles done in the centre were done by Alberto Moreno. between the midfield quartro there were 4 tackles in total. The lack of midfield control was distinctly obvious to anyone watching the game.
In fact if you were to compare Palace’s control of the match, it all begins to get a lot clearer. While Liverpool had 65% possession, they didn’t really have control of the middle. For the first 20 minutes of the game, Palace controlled the game with the high press and forced the backline into making a mistake for the first goal. Liverpool may have levelled the match through another Coutinho goal, and even with the increased tempo in the second half, the reds didn’t look threatening enough. When they decided to take Emre Can off on the 65th min, you could feel the Red’s loss.
LFC are in a bad spot. They need to play Emre Can 24/7 now in the middle of the park and they need to control the centre. As long as they have a porous centre, LFC will continue to struggle. I can only hope their upcoming match against Manchester City sees them using a stronger combination in midfield.