The 4-3-3 formation served Liverpool well last season. Jürgen Klopp’s attacking system was most often spearheaded by Roberto Firmino who was flanked by the marauding Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané. Many goals were scored. An organized and tenacious midfield three controlled the area behind the front three and fed the trio a steady stream of chances. The defense pressed high and the full backs bounded forward. It was glorious.
Thankfully, this season has been pretty much the same. The difference is Klopp has introduced some new tactical options to his team. Salah was utilized as a central striker against both Cardiff City and Red Star Belgrade. The 4-2-3-1 moved Firmino to the centre attacking midfielder position with Xherdan Shaqiri on his right and Mané on the left against Red Star. Adam Lallana played on the right against Cardiff but found himself as a lone striker at times, too.
Quite a bit of position switching goes on across the pitch in Klopp’s team regardless of the formation. And generally, plans may change several times throughout a match depending on what sort of fresh hell the opposition has on offer.
Responding to a question of whether or not these formation changes would somehow negatively effect his players, the manager didn’t see what the big deal was.
“Players shouldn’t lose rhythm if you change the system a little bit,” said Klopp.
“It’s not like we are only playing with two at the back and eight up front. It’s really not that massive a difference.
“The system is there to bring the players into their most comfortable position, but if they stay in that position it’s a boring game, they have to move.
“You need to create a formation for defending where everybody knows what to do, and for offensive things you need to find a formation where they really are in their best area on the pitch. And we can do that in different ways, obviously.
“We have a squad with a number of midfielders and when they are all fit it makes sense to bring on a few more with offensive jobs to do.
“We are not that stubborn system-wise. We were never. We have already played a diamond this season and nobody spoke about it. Obviously, it wasn’t that obvious afterwards otherwise there’d have been big stories about it!
“We try to use players in the best way and give them the position where they can shine.”
Perhaps, too, Klopp believes his team is ready to take a step up in the unpredictability department. With teams setting up to shut down Liverpool’s attacking trio on a more regular basis, flexibility is imperative in order to break down defensive teams.