Liverpool FC: Formation Options for Liverpool in Their Push for 4th
Liverpool managed to bounce back from a hugely disappointing first half against Aston Villa to draw in a game that represented the difficulties of balancing the attacking talent of a generally fluent Liverpool with solidity.
Heading into the remainder of the second half of the season, Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers cannot afford to make similar mistakes to the ones made against Villa, as this year's edition of the Premier League push for fourth is closer than ever, making wins invaluable.
In order to avoid future disappointment, a measure Rodgers could take is to decide on a first-choice 11. Here are some options.
This formation is perhaps the most likely formation to be adopted.
Lucas will provide cover for the back four, while Gerrard is freed from the deep-lying playmaker position and moved into a more balanced role behind Henderson. Coutinho is left out of the side to make space for Sterling, who's pace has become a valuable asset to Liverpool in recent weeks. In a 4-3-3 formation, Sterling's pace becomes even more important.
Suarez would be shifted to the left, though like Coutinho, he would be expected to drift inside toward the No. 10 position, much as he does for Uruguay.
Advantage: The side is well balanced with Lucas and Gerrard providing defensive cover while Sterling, Sturridge and Suarez provide a huge attacking threat.
Disadvantage: No Coutinho. With the lack of a real No. 10 to assist the forwards, much of the link between midfield and attack is provided by Henderson alone, who is not a typical advanced playmaker.
Utilising the SaS
This formation sees Sturridge and Suarez up front together, which is no doubt what Brendan Rodgers is trying to achieve.
The lineup is very attack-oriented, and it may see Henderson, Allen and Gerrard play as box-to-box midfielders to balance defence and attack (if not, Lucas may be preferred to Allen, as he generally adopts a deeper position).
Advantage: Sturridge and Suarez play up front together with Coutinho linking them up.
Disadvantage: No width. Liverpool's offensive play of late has utilised the pace of Sterling in particular; this formation loses that.
This is a very offensive lineup, which could be perceived as either a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-2-4. This lineup is perhaps not a starting one, but one for chasing games. Suarez operating as a No. 10 leaves the opposition with a probable advantage in midfield, which was far and away the largest issue Liverpool faced against Villa.
Advantage: Very attack-oriented. Lots of players capable of opening doors and creating chances.
Disadvantage: So attack-oriented it's likely to leave the defence isolated and the midfield overrun. Whether there is any point in having such a strong attack if there is no one to get the ball to them is a question for Rodgers to answer.
Nevertheless, an option.
Slightly More Defensive
If Liverpool were up against a side with vast attacking talent, perhaps this formation is the one to go by.
Notable differences to the rest of the formations include the return of Daniel Agger to a five-man defence, which sees an emphasis on the fitness and overall ability of full-backs to provide attacking flair and defensive cover.
Advantage: Suarez and Sturridge up front together. Formation is very solid defensively.
Disadvantage: Relies heavily on full-backs. If they are caught upfield, the defence will be left actually weaker than usual.
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