Brendan Rodgers is one of the most interesting managers in football, he is one of the youngest managers at 41 years old, but he also has one of the most tactically astute minds. After the disappointment of his first season at Anfield in 2012-2013 and Luis Suárez’ suspension to start the season, Rodgers showed a willingness to adopt to not only the players available, but also the playing style of the opponent. Here are two formations that Rodgers used last season during his team’s title push. Since I am only writing about two lineups, there will be a few formations that will be left out, such as a 3-5-2 or a 4-2-3-1.
For both formations, the goalkeeper and defence is pretty much set, with Simon Mignolet, Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho although Daniel Agger could come in for either of the center-backs. For the full-backs, it looks like José Enrique is going to be fit enough to be a regular at the left-back position again, but as with all players coming back from a long injury, he is going to be brought back slowly. Since Aly Cissoko is back in Valencia, Emre Can could be a replacement for Jon Flanagan at left-back as he made 10 appearances there for Bayer Leverkusen last season per whoscored.com.
For the defensive scheme, Rodgers really likes to have his players press allover the pitch, which forces opponents into mistakes and tries to prevent opponents from stringing together a series of passes. This is also one of the reasons why Liverpool starts fast, according to premiereleague.com 50% of the team’s 101 goals came between the start of the game and the 40th minute. The in-your-face style right from the whistle catches opponents by surprise, as they are unable to get into the game with red shirts all over them.
4-3-1-2 (Mignolet; Johnson, Skrtel, Sakho, Flanagan; Henderson, Gerrard, Allen; Sterling; Sturridge, Lambert)
This formation, used most famously in a 3-0 destruction of Manchester United in March last season, is Rodgers’ go-to when he wants to dominate the midfield with more or less four players taking up space. When the Reds are in this lineup, the team can both cover a lot of ground with Henderson and Allen pressing all over the field and keep Gerrard from tiring as he gets older.
Raheem Sterling, Liverpool’s dynamite of a talent, is the key player in this lineup, as his speed and ability to pull defenders away from their primary position allows the strikers to find holes in the defensive line. If Rodgers wants to rest Sterling, Philippe Coutinho is an alternative, but he possesses a different set of skills to the no.10 role. He is more of a traditional attacking midfielder, capable of unlocking a defense with one clever pass.
Last season, one of the reasons why Liverpool was so dangerous offensively was the partnership that Daniel Sturridge and Suárez had. Both were willing passers, they had the second and third most assists on the team with 7 and 12 per whoscored.com. However, there were times where Sturridge seemed to look for his own shots rather than passing to a teammate who was in a better position to score.
Now that one half of the “SAS” partnership is gone, it’s up to Rickie Lambert to try and replace the Uruguayan superstar. While it will not be a like-for-like replacement, Lambert does offer a different playing style. He is a more direct striker who moves well in the box, often finishing with the inside of his boot and he is a capable set piece artist, he was the main free-kick and penalty taker for Southampton. However, he would have to learn to play with another forward because for most of last season, he was the lone striker for the Saints. Lambert won’t be lacking motivation to succeed at Anfield, as he actually was a part of Liverpool’s youth system, before he was dropped seventeen years ago.
Use “Pages” below (Page 2) to see the 4-3-3 Analysis & Lineup