Jurgen Klopp’s 4-4-2 system is brilliant, effective. They are two words that you would not normally associate with the formation that has so much negativity surrounding it.
The 4-4-2 formation is painted in the English football archive as the system that England teams typically, at club and national level, use at the forefront of their armour.
The introduction of foreign managers in the Premier League has led to a massive change from the old-fashioned 4-4-2.
4-2-3-1, 4-3-3, 3-5-2, 3-4-3, are all formations utilised by managers in the Premier League, certainly for those teams in the top half.
4-4-2 symbolises the classic, big man – little man partnership that allows teams to lump the ball up front to gain territory in the opponents half.
In the modern game, smaller teams utilise the formation, with great effect. Burnley, are the prime example of how the 4-4-2 system works in the modern game. Two banks of four, defend, defend, defend, hit teams on the counter-attack and score from set pieces. Right? No. Wrong.
Although the system works for teams like Burnley, the 4-4-2 system is used in a very different way for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Jurgen Klopp uses this formation in key games, when winning, where his side are playing a top six or tough opponent in Europe or just outside the top six, like Wolves.
The system is used to gain more control in areas all over the pitch and be able to nullify any threat from the opposition, when the reds are one or two goals ahead.
The reds have used the formation against Manchester City back in November, Tottenham and Manchester United in January and against Wolves on Thursday. Leading to Liverpool wins.
Liverpool use the four midfielders in a box-like shape that helps gain control of the midfield and does not allow a pathway to fire passes into the strikers.
The box nature of the midfield four gives the Reds a compact nature and thus it is harder for the opposition to progress forward so, they’re forced wide.
The two upfront, usually Firmino accompanied with one of Mane or Salah, provide the chance for a counter-attacking opportunity to clinch the matches.
A perfect example of how this formation was put into practice was the win over Manchester United last Sunday.
The box midfield four of Adam Lallana, Gini Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson and substitute Fabinho, helped Liverpool clinch the win.
It allows Liverpool to control the pace and flow of the game, without being in possession of the ball, they allow opposition centre backs and holding midfielders to have the ball, which slows the game down as they try and find openings.
Salah acted as the pace up front, with the substitute, Divock Origi, becoming the extra attacking threat with Salah but also covering wide areas in defence.
Salah played on the last man and got his reward running through on goal to score in the 2-0 win against United from Allison’s pass.
The system provides the perfect balance in those situations and can be used midway through games and not just in the final 30 minutes.
When Takumi Minamino replaced Sadio Mane after half an hour on Thursday, against Wolves. The reds reverted to the 4-4-2 system as they were winning.
Minamino was put to the right of the four and Oxlade Chamberlain to the left with Wijnaldum and Henderson controlling the centre, forcing Wolves to use wide areas.
The change to 4-4-2 was an excellent tactical switch by Jurgen Klopp and his team which shows that even the simplest of formations can be a massive asset to the Champions of Europe.