Tactical Observations from Chelsea vs. Liverpool

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterNovember 11, 2012

Tactical Observations from Chelsea vs. Liverpool

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    Chelsea and Liverpool played out an interesting tactical battle on Sunday afternoon while grinding to a 1-1 draw.

    Brendan Rodgers selected a 3-5-2 formation while Roberto Di Matteo kept his trust in the 4-2-3-1 that has seen Chelsea prosper so far this season.

    Check in to see Bleacher Report's tactical observations on this intriguing contest.

Formation Irrelevant If You Can't Mark at a Corner

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    There was much intrigue regarding Brendan Rodgers' switch to 3-5-2 for this game, but first things first: mark your men at set pieces.

    It doesn't matter if you play three, four or nine at the back—you can't outwit someone tactically for the win if you can't keep it tight from corners.

    John Terry did a very good job of losing his marker at the corner to open the scoring for Chelsea, but if you're Daniel Agger, you know that shouldn't be happening to you.

    The same can be said for Ramires, whose misjudgment led to Luis Suarez's equaliser.

Andre Wisdom Is the EPL Surprise of the Season

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    Is there any position Andre Wisdom cannot play from the defensive perspective?

    Coming into the setup as nothing more than a young wildcard under Brendan Rodgers, the teenager has played right-back, centre-back and right-sided centre-back (in a three-man defence).

    He's managed his first goal in a Liverpool shirt whilst taking on Young Boys in the UEFA Europa League and is fast-becoming one of the most well-rounded defenders in world football.

    Is he the next Branislav Ivanovic?

Ramires Is the Key Link for Chelsea

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    Ramires is the difference between Chelsea's lacklustre performance against Wigan's three-man defence and their positive, direct one against Liverpool's.

    At the DW Stadium in September, Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel played as a holding midfield duo, but neither bothered to run the channels and link the play.

    It's arguable that neither are actually capable, but Ramires is by far the most mobile player on the Blues' roster and fills that role with aplomb.

    He provides the necessary link that stops Chelsea's attacking four—Fernando Torres and the three musketeers—splitting dangerously from the back six.

    Lampard's been out with an injury, but right now he doesn't warrant a return to the side.

Liverpool's Back Three Experience Teething Issues

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    As I alluded to in my preview, variants of the three-man defence live and die by their wing-backs.

    In the 65th minute, the "experiment" was abandoned and Brendan Rodgers switched back to a 4-3-3 shape. Why? Because his wing-backs weren't having a telling impact on the game.

    Jose Enrique, for all his energy, had simply failed to get the better of Cesar Azpilicueta at any point and provided no attacking thrust.

    Similarly, Glen Johnson hadn't managed an effective spell on the right-hand side and thus the switch was made.

    It has to be said that the Reds performed much better in their normal shape.

Joe Allen Not Suited?

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    It's arguable that Joe Allen just had a really poor game in general. He lost possession, caused turnovers and uncharacteristically misplaced passes.

    He was far from his usual statistically profound self, fluffing five easy passes and giving Oscar a real chance to score.

    So what's the reason? The formation, it seems.

    A lot is made of a defender's actions, positioning and tendencies in a 3-5-2, with many making them solely culpable for slip-ups. Midfielders, though, as just as culpable.

    Brendan Rodgers pulled the rug from under Allen's feet here, as the Welsh wizard had never played this system before.

    The very bread and butter of his game changed. The passing options were different, the angles had changed and the safety blankets he'd come to rely on were absent.

    It was no surprise to see his play improve when the switch back to 4-3-3 is made.