Given Liverpool’s ongoing problems with personnel in midfield, Jurgen Klopp has hinted he could switch to a 4-2-3-1 – though other issues have stopped him so far.
But throughout pre-season, the 4-3-3 remained, and that has been the case in the opening four games of the campaign proper.
Monday saw Klopp drop Fabinho and start Jordan Henderson as his No. 6, with Harvey Elliott and James Milner retained in the advanced roles, as Carvalho served as the only other senior option on the bench.
Speaking in his post-match press conference at Old Trafford, Klopp explained his decision to omit Fabinho and, referencing the issue with numbers, suggested he has considered moving to a two-man midfield.
However, the manager also noted how, with Nunez and Diogo Jota also currently out, he would struggle to field the four attackers a 4-2-3-1 system requires.
“We have, in the moment, five senior midfielders, and we have to start with three,” he told reporters.
“We could start with two if we had more attackers but we only have three attackers, so it means we have to start with three and change during the game.
“How we want to start and how we want to change, we have to think before the game. That’s the only reason for it.”
As it stands – discounting 17-year-olds Stefan Bajcetic and Bobby Clark – Liverpool have five fit senior midfielders in Fabinho, Henderson, Milner, Elliott and Carvalho, and three forwards in Mo Salah, Luis Diaz and Roberto Firmino.
In short, there are eight players for six positions, with both Carvalho and Elliott capable of filling in a variety of roles between midfield and attack.
That has left Klopp to stick with his tried-and-trusted 4-3-3, with the availability of Thiago, Jota and Nunez arguably key to any shift to a 4-2-3-1.
It is interesting, however, that the manager has floated the idea of changing formations again, as was the case back in July when discussing his midfield options.