When Adam Lallana chested a ball down in the box and sent the ensuing right-footed effort toward the goal, the game against Arsenal was still very much in the balance. Liverpool struggled to create chances the entire first half, and Philippe Coutinho masterclass notwithstanding, the Reds were lucky to enter the break on level terms.
Lallana’s goal changed the momentum in an instant, sparking three goals in 15 minutes, and essentially winning the tough opening fixture (give or take a couple goals at the other end). It was a big moment for a player whose greatest weakness has been his contribution on the attacking end.
What makes this goal stand out all the more is the fact that Lallana took up a deeper position than he usual, dropping to the central midfielder role in a 4-3-3. From all indications, this is a position the English international could find himself in more often this season.
"I've enjoyed it. I feel like I'm still learning the role and I'll probably still be learning the role throughout the season – you can always get better," Lallana said in an interview with the official Liverpool website. "But I've been watching different players that play in that position and it was great to play against Barcelona and some top teams in pre-season to get good run-outs against them.”
Despite Lallana’s less-than-stellar goal return last year, he found himself as one of the first names on the team sheet. Manager Jürgen Klopp seems to appreciate his work rate in the press, as well as his general versatility. This ability to play multiple positions—a trait shared by Georginio Wijnaldum, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mané—allows Klopp to deploy a very fluid formation, one that can change from a 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1, or a 4-1-4-1 very quickly.
"I'm enjoying it and [this is] a squad full of great players. If you look around, there are a lot of players that can play in two or three positions, which definitely helps,” Lallana added.
Just because Lallana might be taking up a deeper role this season doesn’t mean that he won’t have a significant role getting forward. According to Lallana, Klopp has been hammering home the importance of getting men in the box.
"The manager says a sign of a good game is having a lot of men in the box and I think if you look at my goal there are six players in the box and he highlighted that.
"That's how he wants us to play. It's attacking football but, as long as we get our protection right behind that, then why not? You've got more chance of scoring goals."
Oh. Right. Protection. Yes, Klopp & Co. will have to work on a way to shore up the defense, lest they want to continue to be nervous with three goal leads.