In matches where Adam Lallana has started and played a majority of the match, Liverpool have 7 wins, 1 draw, and 1 loss, and have scored 28 goals (2.44 points per game, 3.11 goals per game). In the three other matches where he has either come off injured (Swansea), come on as a second half substitute (Manchester United), or didn’t feature at all (Southampton), Liverpool have won 1, and drawn 2, while only scoring 2 goals (1.67 ppg, .67 gpg). Yes, yes, small sample sizes and that, but the stats confirm the eye test reasonably well.
Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp has noticed the gaping hole left in Liverpool’s midfield, and spoke about it prior to the upcoming match against Sunderland.
“Adam Lallana as everybody knows well is an important player for us but it is not about just him,” Klopp explained. “Even the games against Man United and Southampton they were completely different. You cannot compare them. That is no reason for us (not to score).
“We don’t know if we can bring the same formation (against Sunderland). We have got a few guys who are struggling a little bit. We have to make a few late decisions.”
The decision to play Lallana and James Milner in deeper positions appears inspired, but in Lallana’s absence, a reasonable question could be raised over Georginio Wijnaldum’s ability to fill Lallana’s vital role in the center of the pitch. Wijnaldum would appear to have all the tools necessary to fill that role, but perhaps he still needs a bit more time to fully integrate into the team and learn that position.
If Klopp decides to alter the formation away from his preferred formation from this season, the 4-3-3, it seems reasonable to assume that he would revert to the 4-2-3-1, the formation he has traditionally utilized throughout his career. If that’s the case, we could see a return of Sturridge up top, with Firmino dropping into the 10, and Wijnaldum resigned to the bench.
Another intriguing possibility would be a 4-4-2 diamond, with Sturridge and Origi partnering up top. This formation This was similar to the approach Klopp & Co. went with in the 2-1 victory over Spurs in the last round of the League Cup. This second approach would be riskier than reverting to the 4-2-3-1 from last year, but Sunderland at home might offer a good possibility to try something a bit different in the league. The Black Cats have conceded 21 times this campaign (joint 4th worst), and the Reds will be eager to make the net bulge after failing to score last time out.
Or, he could just be saying this to mess with all of our heads, and he’ll run out the exact same starting XI for the first time in 40 games.