Balancing the Liverpool midfield

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Ben Twelves explains how he believes more mobility and presence needed in midfield to provide better balance.

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The start of the season had many calling for more options in attacking areas but after the signings of three attacking players in the last two transfer windows, we now have options in that area and the focus of where we need to improve the team in the summer window has shifted elsewhere.

Many have pointed to the way in which Brendan Rodgers’ team are often bypassed in midfield too easily as something that needs to be sorted. Opposing sides have been able to bear down on the Liverpool back four, which has had nowhere near enough protection at times this season too easily. Rodgers reacted to this issue by dropping Steven Gerrard into a deeper role and pushing Jordan Henderson into a more advanced position behind the striker, to give a more 4-2-3-1/4-1-2-3 (depending on interpretation) formation to the team but goals continue to be shipped.

With the style of play currently, we are a very attacking side. Full-backs Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique push up very high to provide width and often are involved in attacking moves alongside those in the final third of the pitch, something which is exciting as we look to score a number of goals. However, with this style of play comes a risk, and it is one that is creating problems for us and will continue to unless we address it.

The squad currently has only one natural ‘holding midfielder’- Lucas. Throughout this season we have seen him sat as the deepest midfielder but in more recent games we’ve seen him partnered by Steven Gerrard and on occasions by Joe Allen as Henderson continues to be employed further forward in the attacking three behind the out and out striker.

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Even though we now have another body in front of the backline, we are still vulnerable in the midfield area due to a lack of pace. Gerrard has proved his durability with the fact he has played every minute of every Premier League game this season but he doesn’t possess the same bursting drive and ability to cover ground as he once did.

As well as this, our captain is a player who needs to be around the ball as he has the ability to create, score and assist from anywhere on the pitch so structuring him entirely to a deep-lying position will restrict him. Brazilian midfield partner Lucas, while offering good positional sense and tackling, lacks presence and is slow around the pitch possibly due to injuries and when we get caught on the counter attack we are slow to regroup due to committing numbers forward.

With the full backs pushing on so far, it is essential for us to have mobility in midfield and players who can cover ground quickly, something we lack currently. A more mobile ‘ball-winning’ player in alongside Lucas or Gerrard could see opposition play thwarted more quickly and can help us to cut the number of goals we concede.

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