Jurgen Klopp made two changes to the lineup that featured against Manchester City, Moreno and Sakho coming in for Toure and Clyne. It was 4-2-3-1 again with an unchanged midfield and attack. Henderson and Can were at the heart of midfield; Milner, Firmino and Lallana playing in behind striker Origi. The bench looked quite a strong one with likes of Sturridge, Coutinho and Benteke in it.
Right so let’s take a look at Reds’ shape on the tactics board and analyse few things from that :
Starting from midfield, Can had a good game in the middle of the park. His passing distribution was great and his versatility came into good effect when Liverpool were down to 10 men and the German had to play as an auxiliary centre-back. He was very robust and precise in what he wanted to do and looked pretty much the player who has a bright future here at Merseyside. Skipper Henderson was again 50-50 in his performance level, his passing remains to be a problem. It looks like he still requires time to come back to his best range, still provided in a reasonable shift alongside Can. One thing we’ll always get to see from Henderson is his work rate off the ball. He pressed in tight spaces on the right flank and helped Flanagan defend that wing.
Firmino continued his good vein of form with another confident performance. The Brazilian looked the most likely to score, and anytime the Reds conjured a promising attack it involved him. Lallana had a quiet start to the game but was good on the ball, he looked more sharp and pressed more when Liverpool were down to 10 and needed more legs in midfield to compete.
So, after being a goal down, Liverpool were given another blow when Milner was shown the red card(second yellow), but tactical flexibility and some clever changes by Klopp enabled Reds to fight till the last second and eventually win all three points, so let’s take a look at Reds’ shape without Milner:
As you can see, there was lot of flexibility in that midfield and right side of defence. Can was the centre-back but on the ball he moved forward more often than not, meaning Lovren had to be careful with his forward movements from right-back, he was more happy to fill in that gap. The Croatian was more concentrated on his duties. He went to challenge for second balls in opposition half but otherwise his job was to cover Can’s forward movements and shutout Bolasie from that flank. Henderson dropped a bit deeper and Firmino played from the centre-circle, Henderson protected Moreno from being isolated defensively down that left hand side. Firmino’s work rate was phenomenal, his deep and forward runs were outstanding and he was the one who Palace failed to mark for the most part of the game due to his floating movements which increased when Reds were a man down.
Lallana was very lively once his team went down to 10-men, covering a lot of areas centrally plus the right hand side of midfield and attack. He tucked himself in centrally but did off the ball pressing in wide areas.
There was lots of tactical flexibility and more desire once the Reds’ were forced to play with one less pair of legs for more than half an hour. The key was that all the players knew their newer roles and all knew that a little more extra legs and running was required to counter the challenge.
Another bright spot for Liverpool was Dejan Lovren, he displayed a man of the match performance and deservingly so. He was very good in the centre-back role, his clearances carried weight and the key to it was his primary movements towards the ball, if the first decision is correct then defender has more than a chance to halt the attack. He also showed good versatility by playing in that right back position when forced to cover the empty space left by the sent off James Milner.
All in all, it was a solid game for Klopp’s Liverpool, defensive organisation in set-pieces was ok and the desire hunger and passion to fight till the last second was something that should please the German. Next stop – a Europa League game against Manchester United at Anfield.
Analysis by @Mizgans