MEET THE TEAM
The power of the press and greater defensive solidity have raised the Reds' game
When Jürgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund team reached the UEFA Champions League final in 2013, it was the culmination of five years’ drilling, his team rarely straying from a 4-2-3-1 formation. Klopp studied the Premier League and realised he had to find a different way to push Liverpool forward. Since arriving at
Anfield in 2015, he has typically deployed a 4-3-3, with Liverpool’s narrow forwards piling pressure on opposition defences, allowing the full-backs to spill forward and create width.
Between them in this season’s Premier League, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson have assisted 23 goals. Alexander-Arnold’s haul of 12 is the most for a defender in the competition’s history, and it was the 20-year-old who supplied Divock Origi’s tie-winning strike in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals via his quick-thinking corner.
With as many as six Liverpool players filling the attacking third at any one time, Klopp has recognised the need for industrious midfield players who can contribute creatively and also have the energy to plug the gaps left by the full-backs. Fabinho, who has emerged as the central figure in midfield since the turn of the year, is asked by Klopp not to slip into defence as other players performing his role might. Instead, he is often the highest-pressing midfielder, helping Liverpool to overwhelm their rivals. Fabinho’s presence, meanwhile, has allowed Jordan Henderson to take on a more creative role to his right.
Since Virgil van Dijk’s arrival in January 2018, Liverpool are less susceptible to counters thanks to the Dutchman’s pace and awareness, which allows him to cover large areas of the pitch. Meanwhile, Alisson Becker has proved a calming presence in goal. More than just a gifted shot-stopper, he offers uncommon technique on the ball and accurate distribution, all of which have spread a new confidence throughout the defence.