Tactical Analysis: Liverpool 4 Newcastle United 0

Jurgen Klopp’s rampant Reds went 6 points clear at the top of the Premier League yesterday, continuing an impressive run of 19 league games unbeaten as they come out 4-0 victors over a half-hearted, negative Newcastle side. A joy to watch for Liverpool fans globally as the reds go marching on in this sensationally-stunning season.
Dejan Lovren opened the scoring with a sublime, cleanly hit half-volley to send the Kop in uproar. Mohammed Salah was then brought down in the box straight after the break, albeit softly but that didn’t stop the Egyptian scoring his 12th goal of his unbelievably impressive sequel season. Xherdan Shaqiri got in on the act finishing from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s low cross in the 79th minute, bringing the Swiss internationals overall goal contribution this season to 6 goals and 3 assists in just 892 minutes played, incredible numbers from the number 23. Mohammed Salah then turned to provider in the  85th minute as his inswingning corner was met by Fabinho to score his first goal in a Liverpool shirt.

The Lineups

Jurgen Klopp began the game as he has done for the past 5 league home matches, in a 4-2-3-1 shape with Mohammed Salah leading the line once again, there were 3 changes to the lineup that faced Wolves, with Alexander-Arnold, Shaqiri and Wijnaldum all coming back to the starting lineup. Klopp’s main strategy is like it has been for many home games this season, to have at least 4 of our attacking players to come into the half – spaces and attempt to get up the pitch as quickly as possible using channel passing and quick, unpredictable movement. Newcastle’s system was clear, get as many players back as possible and defend for their lives. Rafa has implemented a 5 at the back formation for most of Newcastle’s games in December and continued to do so today, they allowed Liverpool to play from the back so they could sustain a defensive shape and press when the Liverpool players got into their half/final third.

Overpowering Newcastle 

A huge part of Liverpools attacking play consists of flooding each available area in the oppositions half, this increases the likelihood of a situation or chance being created, this is especially evident vs the lower teams because there is a lack of an attacking threat from the opposition, here is an example of this, it is 2 minutes in and Liverpool have every player forward bar the centre halves and the goalkeeper, overpowering is a hugely effective attacking weapon, especially considering the quality of Liverpools attack and can be seen for Liverpool’s 3rd goal of the afternoon.

Consistent Counter Attacking Formation caused many problems 

When counter attacking, Liverpool always make sure they get in this arrow shaped formation with 5 attacking players filling different spaces, shown above. This was incredibly hard to stop for Newcastle and not just them, many teams have faced this type of counter attack when coming up against the red-men.Fullback positioning so vital to the win 

When attacking, Liverpool are constantly shifting the ball from one side to the other to try to create spaces and move further up the pitch, the positioning of Liverpool’s fullbacks allows the team to have a constant option to move up the pitch and create a chance. Andrew Robertson is perfect for this, he is excellent at spotting when to create space and has the end product to create a great chance, 2 of Liverpool’s 4 goals yesterday were assisted by the full backs, proving how important they are to Liverpool’s attacking play.

Newcastle counter attacks were a threat 

Newcastle’s plan was very clear, sit back and wait for Liverpool to be vulnerable defensively and pounce. The Reds were able to prevent these counter attacks more often than not but Newcastle did create a number of half – chances due to this type of attacking system, in this image Newcastle managed to create a 4 vs 3 situation but couldn’t create the quality to create many clear cut chances.

Jordan Henderson the unsung hero

Jordan Henderson certainly gets his critics, unfairly so in my opinion. These critics are either  outdated or unaware of what Jordan Henderson’s role for Klopp’s team actually is, his role isn’t to score, assist or create 5 chances a game, his role is to be the sitting central midfielder, anchor the midfield, act as a 3rd centre half sometimes and control the game through making space close to the central defenders and linking defence to attack, a job I actually think he is brilliant at. Against Newcastle he boasted some impressive stats, 110 touches (2nd most on the pitch) 96 passes (4th most on the pitch), 2 fouls won (most on the pitch), 1 tackle (more than any of the centre halves) all whilst keeping a clean sheet which is part of his responsibilities to.  

The counter press still just as useful as ever

 People have been saying that Klopp hasn’t used his famous “Gegen Pressing” system so far this season, this is incorrect. The press that Klopp sets out is a much more controlled counter press than normal, usully consisting of the 4 to 5 closest players to the ball closing the passing lanes rather than going completely for the ball, this gives the player with the ball little option, usually ending in Liverpool regaining possession, something that was limited against Newcastle as they would instantly play a long ball when they got the ball back rather than playing out from the back which is understandable.

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