Rodgers’ tweaks key to Liverpool’s success

Brendan Rodgers’s tactical tinkering has been crucial to Liverpool’s fast starts to games.

Brendan Rodgers Unveiled As New Liverpool FC Manager

Liverpool have an excellent starting XI but not great strength in depth, so this was a genuine challenge. (Eds note: without Henderson and Sturrdige)

Rodgers was expected to return to a 4-3-3 in Sturridge’s absence, but instead he persevered with a shape resembling the midfield diamond, his favoured system in recent weeks. There was an unusual variation – Raheem Sterling continued at the top of the quartet, but Philippe Coutinho was pushed forward from his central-midfield role, and supported Suárez closely.

It was effectively a 4-3-2-1, yet another formation Rodgers has utilised during a fascinating season where he has repeatedly kept opposition managers guessing. Part of the reason Liverpool start matches superbly is because opponents take a while to understand exactly what they are playing against.

It happened again here. The trio of Coutinho, Sterling and Suárez positioned themselves to the left of the pitch in the opening 15 minutes, forming a neat triangle and playing some excellent passing combinations. From a left-sided position, Coutinho teed up Sterling for his deflected long-range opener, then Sterling drifted to that flank before curling a delicious pass in behind the Norwich defence for a Suárez tap-in. For once, the Uruguayan didn’t run riot at Carrow Road – most of Liverpool’s good play came from the two players located just behind him, particularly the sublime Sterling.


As Norwich mounted a comeback, Liverpool’s performance was unimpressive and Rodgers seemed unsure whether to stick or twist. He moved Coutinho and Sterling into wide positions, replicating Norwich’s move from a diamond to a 4-5-1, partly in attempt to get players out towards the touchlines to stop the crosses. Coutinho and Sterling were now in a better position to counterattack and while Sterling’s breakaway goal was a perfect demonstration of the dribbling that has made him so dangerous in recent weeks, a third goal flattered Liverpool’s second-half efforts.

Part of playing on the counterattack, of course, is about withstanding long spells of pressure, something Liverpool still don’t appear entirely comfortable with.

It was a typical Liverpool win – an excellent start followed by a nervous, uncertain second half. Rodgers moved from 4-3-2-1 to 4-5-1 to 5-4-1 as Liverpool became more reactive, and those continual tactical shifts sum up their strategic variety throughout this increasingly convincing title charge.

Source: Guardian


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