There's been a lot of discussion lately about Liverpool's use of a three man defence in the past two matches, and so perhaps it's been easy to forget, but up until Stoke there was a clear preference for four defenders in a 4-3-3. There's room for both systems, of course, but over the course of a season a side will tend to have a primary system--something that suits them best, and that they can use to impose their style of play on most opponents when either the level of the opponent and some special threat don't require a radical change of approach.
With that in mind, the question this week is which formation do people see as the best choice for Liverpool's primary system moving forward? Three center backs and variations on a 3-6-1, or two center backs and two fullbacks in a 4-3-3?
The 3-6-1 used the past two matches has a few obvious points in its favour, namely that if all of Liverpool's center backs are playing well it's one of the club's deepest positions, and as long as Agger is fit and on form there's at least one player capable of stepping up in possession when having three defenders loitering in their own half might otherwise be overkill. Also, with the usual fullbacks starting higher up the pitch it's a system that lends itself to a little more natural width. On the flip side it risks a log jam in the limited attacking positions, especially once Carroll regains fitness and if the team is to avoid taking off midfielders and losing the possession battle in midfield as a result. There's also the constant danger that against a side that can attack with decent width--United and Tottenham likely being the best examples of such in the top half of the table--the wingbacks will end up pinned back as part of a five man back line that leaves Liverpool outnumbered elsewhere on the pitch and thoroughly stuck in their own end.
The 4-3-3, on the other hand, is a bit more of a known quantity, and it more easily incorporates players like Kuyt, Suarez, and Maxi in the wide forward positions. Also, with enough possession, giving the fullbacks time to move forward and provide width becomes less of an issue. With the similarities to the 4-2-3-1 many of the players are used to performing in, it seems a natural fit for the personnel and the likely safe pick.
So, which way would you go in the upcoming matches if you were the manager?