With Liverpool finally having “clicked” again over 135 minutes vs. Arsenal and Leeds, Jurgen Klopp has hinted his new formation is here to stay.
With his side on a miserable run of form, Klopp has shifted his setup in the past two games with a system closer to a 3-5-2.
Trent Alexander-Arnold was the focus in both, moving from his natural right-back role to take up a position nearer the midfield, allowing him to dictate play freely.
It took time to settle against both Arsenal and Leeds, but Klopp believes it truly “clicked” in the second half of the 2-2 draw with the Gunners.
Speaking on Sky Sports after Liverpool’s 6-1 thrashing of Leeds on Monday, Jamie Carragher asked the manager his planning behind the new formation.
Specifically, Carragher questioned Klopp on whether it was designed to get more out of Alexander-Arnold or to find a better defensive structure, with two sitting midfielders in the No. 66 alongside Fabinho.
"It's the best game we've played this season" ?
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“Because it’s Trent, it’s both,” he replied, before adding: “But in general, you are right.
“We need to be better protected as well, because [in previous games] we conceded too many counter-attacks, we lost the balls in the wrong moment.
“Trent played a really good game, but again, when we lost the ball, the reaction was completely different.
“We didn’t lose that many balls, because we were really calm on the ball.
“The one we lost in the completely wrong moment is obviously the goal we conceded. That’s not [a situation where we can] protect anymore, but all others we must be able to protect.
“For that, the formation suits us much better.”
While Liverpool have conceded three goals in the past two games, two of those came while they were still finding their shape in the first half against Arsenal and the other after a mistake from Ibrahima Konate at Leeds.
Overall, the Reds looked more defensively sound, while their eight goals scored – including six at Elland Road – is evidence that this “super-offensive formation” can work.
“You think to play better you have to be foremost concerned about all the offensive stuff: the dribbling, the shooting, the finishing,” Klopp continued.
“But stability, you only get from defending.
“We can be super offensive-orientated – we have a super-offensive formation with five, six players in between and behind the lines – if we react in the right moments.
“I cannot really explain why our counter-pressing was not there. We were asking for it all the time, pretty much.
“But tonight it clicked. It actually clicked pretty much in the second half against Arsenal.
“The direction we had all of a sudden in the game was because we won balls back.”
Liverpool have eight games left as they bid for an unlikely top-four spot, and Klopp concluded: “I hope these one-and-a-half games now gave us the right sign for the rest of the season.”