“4-3-3 every time”, “4-2-3-1 has got us a chance” – Liverpool fans have their say on Klopp’s tactics

14 February 2019

Jurgen Klopp has flirted with a return to a 4-3-3 formation in recent games, which would seemingly prove to be a popular move for Liverpool supporters.


The Reds’ staple system for the majority of last season, Klopp moved away from the 4-3-3 and onto a new-look 4-2-3-1 towards the end of 2018, after its use in the 3-0 victory over Southampton in September.

Initially utilising it in lower-risk fixtures, the 3-1 win at home to Man United in December was something of a watershed moment for this system, and in particular its key cog, Xherdan Shaqiri.

But with Shaqiri’s performance levels dropping and Naby Keita better suited to a central midfield role, Klopp has switched things up again of late, beginning in the 1-1 draw at West Ham.

Liverpool started that clash in a 4-3-3, before moving back to a 4-2-3-1 after half-time, while the boss kept faith with the 4-3-3 in the 3-0 mauling of Bournemouth last time out.

There are merits for both systems, and Klopp can employ both as the rest of the campaign plays out, but there is certainly cause for debate over which is more effective.

This is Anfield asked supporters on Facebook and Twitter which is the ‘best’ formation for the Reds, with one clear favourite.

Of the 20,900 fans to vote on Facebook, 78 percent backed a regular return to the 4-3-3 system, which was used for most of the 2017/18 campaign.

A popular line was that Klopp does not currently have the right personnel to field a 4-2-3-1, which is debatable given its efficiency earlier in the season.

“4-2-3-1 helps us defensively…but we don’t have a striker to bang in those goals. Salah is much more effective as a wing man than a striker,” Ansel Kevin argued.

“4-3-3 is ideal right now. Because it doesn’t just make Salah more influential, it also makes Bobby more useful than when he plays No. 10.

“Maybe if we sign a No. 10 and a No. 9 next season, we can try 4-2-3-1, but right now we don’t have the players for that.”

Jason Rowlands agreed, writing: “4-3-3 every time for me. Playing Firmino in the No. 10 role just doesn’t seem as effective as Firmino as a false nine.”

Interestingly, Shane Treacy offered a contrary stance, writing that “4-2-3-1 has got us in with a chance. We’ll start conceding again if we stick with 4-3-3.”

Treacy added that Klopp should “switch between the systems for different games,” which seems sensible, and was reinforced by Mohammed Suleman, who wrote that it “depends on who’s the opponent; different systems for different teams.”

The 4-3-3 was similarly popular with the 5,878 voting on Twitter, with 74 percent opting for the previous formation over one which brought big victories over Watford, Burnley, Bournemouth, United and Newcastle in 2018.

“We play better in a 4-3-3, with Firmino up top, he offers a lot more than as a false nine,” wrote @frosa720, echoing both Kevin and Rowlands.

“[The] 4-3-3 is more balanced and gives more control, though demands a lot from the midfielders,” explained @Rageera.

“The current midfield of Fabinho, Gini and Keita is about perfect for it as all of them have the engine, quick passing and technique required. But the midfield two in some matches works well also.”

Naturally, the pragmatic approach seems best, with DanielHit58 writing that it “depends on [the] players. With Shaqiri 4-2-3-1; without him 4-3-3.”

“When players have energy to press, it’s 4-3-3. Absolutely,” added @tomi_tikka. “With lower tempo 4-2-3-1 works better.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 9, 2019: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring the third goal with team-mate Roberto Firmino during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and AFC Bournemouth at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

If energy is the deciding factor with the 4-3-3, the hope will be that Liverpool return from Marbella revitalised and prepared for a big night against Bayern Munich on February 19.

After that, there is at least one more Champions League clash and 12 Premier League games to come, and the Reds will need to be flexible as they push for silverware in May.

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