Liverpool have had a good start to the Premier League season. The only team within English football with a perfect record four games in, they sit 2 points clear of the favourites Manchester City. Resuming their stellar runs from the back end of last season, these two sides are far ahead of the others in every department, on and off the pitch. ‘Pundits’ are having an increasing sense of fear about the Premier League turning into a two-horse race and for once, they’re not far off the mark.
There have been a lot of key contributions that have helped Liverpool stake their claim for the top spot that has been ever so elusive to them for the last 3 decades. These contributions have come from all around the pitch, with different players stepping up at crucial moments to create a telling impact on the match, be it a match-winning goal or a blocking a goal-bound effort.
Irrespective of the player occupying them, the positions themselves have undergone little change from the last season, indicating a clarity in the players’ minds. Liverpool have stuck to their tried and tested 4-3-3 formation right from the curtain-raiser in the Community Shield against Manchester City. The players are moulded to fit the formation and each of them can take up different roles, acting dynamically to fill up different spots.
Such is the fluidity of the various spots in midfield, a central player playing in the middle of the three has duties very dissimilar to that of the outer two. From the outer two, one of the midfielders must facilitate the attack and the other must stay back, covering for the full-back on his side, who has bombed forward to create an overload. The other attacking midfielder (in many cases, Georginio Wijnaldum) gives an underlapping run for the winger/fullback to have a couple of attacking options.
There are various players that make this Liverpool team what they are, let’s take a look at some of the best –
The Egyptian King, as he is called by the Liverpool fans, is as instrumental as anybody in shaping the attacking instincts of the Reds. The most prolific goal scorer of the trio that lead that attack, he has been in good touch this season, with 3 goals and 2 goal assists already. In the system, he is required to stretch the opposition defence rather than press. He is still expected to mark his man but rarely does a trigger start with him pressing an opponent on the ball. When the ball is in the Liverpool half, he is the furthest player forward, waiting for opportunities to counter.
Like all good goalscorers, Salah has a selfish streak and very obviously has a license to be so from the manager. Highly one-footed, finishing has become his second nature now. This is why most of Liverpool’s attacks have revolved around and will continue to finish with him for the foreseeable future.
“Roberto Firmino does not fit the system at Liverpool, Roberto Firmino is the system”. The flamboyant Brazilian will be the first to admit that he is not as impactful as his two partners in crime in terms of numbers, but he is absolutely pivotal to the way Liverpool play. Dropping deep to create channels for the wingers to run into, he enables them to play the inside forward roles so popular in world football currently. Out of possession, he is the trigger that starts the press, getting right in the faces of the opposition and generally being a nuisance.
That said, he is no slouch in front of goal, with 51 goals for club and country in the last two years. Supremely unselfish, he always puts the needs of the team first. It was truly a sensational transfer by Brendan Rodgers and an even better decision by Klopp to play him centrally rather than from the wings, where he looked bleary and lost. Now, he’s the first Brazilian to hit a half-century of Premier League goals and the best in the world at his role.
Virgil van Dijk
The Dutch center-half was recently named UEFA Champions League’s player of the season and also has been nominated for the FIFA Best Awards. Even accolades as glittering as these tell only part of the story. The impact he has had on this Liverpool side is unrivaled in history. An absolute Rolls-Royce of a player, he is, like many great defenders, an excellent reader of the game. He is a vocal presence on the pitch, constantly shepherding the other players around him. Dominant in the air, he also has an enviable passing range.
Van Dijk has clearly emerged as Europe’s premier centre-back over the last season. This coupled with the fact that he is now 28 years old, showers down rays of optimism for Liverpool fans regarding the defense of their European crown and the pursuit of that elusive Premier League trophy.
The Brazilian arrived at Liverpool a day after the Champions League final loss in Kiev last year, perhaps symbolic of the transformation Klopp’s side have undergone since. He took a while to get going, initially looking well off the pace needed to survive in the Premier League. He had his skeptics but has now, in the space of 12 months, turned most, if not all, of them around. A rock at the back ever since his second foray into the club’s first team, Klopp initially played a couple of holding midfielders, switching up the formation to acclimatize Fabinho with the ways of the English game.
Now among Europe’s elite central defensive midfielders, the ex-Monaco man offers very different attributes to the rest of the team. Covering a lot of ground intelligently, his previous experience as a fullback serves him well during one-on-ones against wingers. He particularly excels at offering protection and always being a passing option for the center backs to pass to, seemingly gliding across the grass.
•32 League starts
The general.🇧🇷 pic.twitter.com/uLsySkqrfC
— Kloppholic (@Kloppholic) September 1, 2019
All these players will be important if Liverpool are to go on to achieve their targets this season. There is a lot of room for optimism as long as this bunch stays the same. Some might be of the opinion that the goalscorer is the prime difference between a winning team and a team that merely ekes out draws. Others may believe that the level of Liverpool’s attack has remained the same while the defence has progressed by leaps and bounds under the tutelage of van Dijk and this makes a strong case for him. A few other fans may argue that the forward line and the defensive setup would have eventually sorted themselves out, but it was the introduction of Fabinho that provided a bite to the midfield. This holds the Liverpool team together in times when they are not playing their best but still grind out results. Whatever may be the preference, this Liverpool team certainly is a collective group of inspired individuals wanting to give their best on the pitch for themselves, the manager and the fans.
El Arte Del Futbol is an official content creator for One Football. Find more original features, Player Profiles and tactical analysis on www.elartedf.com. If you are reading this on our website, we’d like to thank you for your continuous support!