Things are starting to click at Liverpool and while there are a variety of factors affecting this — a change in formation, a better understanding between players thought unable to play together, multiple team members hitting their stride at the same time — Emre Can's emergence as an important presence in the side is uncountable. Back to back quality performances after not having had much prior playing time has his manager enthusiastic for what he can offer the team in a whole range of positions.
"The idea tonight was that we had the flexibility to flip the system," said Brendan Rodgers in explaining his team's formation. "We had two full-backs who were attacking full-backs. "If we had wanted to drop them two in and push [Can] into midfield, we could have done that. With him in that controlling role, it would have made our shape into a back four.
"It's very important that we have players who are confident on the ball. When I watched Emre last year, one of the games that I travelled to, in Hamburg, he was playing as a centre-half in a 4-2-3-1 formation."
It's not Can's natural position nor even his preferred position, but the German once again looked comfortable in a CB position that is quickly depleting in depth. With Dejan Lovren out for the time being and Kolo Touré shortly to depart for the Africa Cup of Nations in January, Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho remain the only fit senior CBs. Far from being an emergency option at the back, Can has demonstrating quality in the position, and Rodgers has credited Can's success to strong performances in training.
"You see his presence - he's got size and he's got a good leap," Rodgers continued. "He's quick and strong, so he can play anywhere on the field. He's played at left-back, he plays in centre midfield. The only two positions that he has not played in when I've seen him was at centre-forward and in goal."
With Liverpool's current challenges in the striker and goalkeeper department, let's hope Rodgers doesn't get any clever ideas. No doubt Emre Can will give it 185% regardless of where he's placed on the pitch, but sticking with one alternate position at the moment seems quite enough.