Explaining the 4-3-3

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Since the appointment of Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool last summer, much discussion has surrounded the Northern Irishman’s philosophy and desired formation.

Rodgers discussed the merits of his favoured 4-3-3 system during the first meeting with supporters groups back in October last year, explaining the importance of possession in midfield – “where the modern game is won”.

This video below, by coach Michael Jolley, brilliantly provides an interpretation of the 4-3-3, explaining the player’s roles and movements within the system:

In recent weeks we have seen Liverpool operate more often with a 2-1 shape in midfield, rather than a 1-2 shape which is favoured by Rodgers, and is used by teams who are comfortable within a 4-3-3; notably of course, Barcelona.

Ideally, Rodgers is looking to have Lucas as his holding midfielder (number 4 in the video above) but the Brazilian is yet to fully recover from his double long-term injury lay-off. While Joe Allen operated as the ‘8’ under Rodgers at Swansea.

But Steven Gerrard has not been used as the ’10’ within the system as desired, he has instead been used in a deeper role, alongside the holding midfielder more often. The reasons for this aren’t exactly clear, but perhaps as Rodgers does not feel comfortable with just the one holding player at this stage within the team’s development.

We’ve seen multiple examples, especially earlier in the season, of a midfield player cheaply giving up possession in midfield and thus leaving us vulnerable on the counter attack. Perhaps once the team has adapted more to the system and style of play, we will see the midfield shape change to the more customary 1-2 triangle.

The addition of Daniel Sturridge means he will play as the ‘9’ centrally, meaning a change of role for Luis Suarez; who Rodgers told supporters last month could be used in one of the wide positions (11 or 7) or even as the number 10 behind the forward.

Clearly, Rodgers team is still in the early stages of development and time is required before they can begin to be as comfortable as the feted Barcelona system, as demonstrated in the video below:

For more on Liverpool tactics, click here.

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