Κυριακή, 11 Σεπτεμβρίου 2016

Tactical analysis: Liverpool - Leicester City 4-1/Premier League/10-9-2016

Liverpool returned to winning ways hosting the champions, Leicester City. The brand new main stand proved to be beneficial for the team as the noise the fans were making helped the players and the team spirit.

Defence: Although Leicester were unable to create anything from open play, Liverpool’s errors and shiftlessness to defend set pieces gave the Foxes hope. Despite this fact, Liverpool coped really well with breaking down the opposition’s play, hence not many times Mignolet was needed.


Attack: The Reds were able to convert most of their chances with 11 of 17 shots in total being on target. Quick, direct play made the team unstoppable in the final third of the field.


Positive

-Cutting through the lines

Leicester City tried to press high when Liverpool had the ball in defence giving no options in the middle for the defenders to pass. However, this gave the chance for Liverpool to be more direct and play the ball immediately to the attackers. In this instance, Lucas plays from behind a long pass to Firmino cutting through all the Leicester City lines, which press high on the pitch.

-Smart move by Sturridge

 Firmino opened the score in the 10th minute giving Liverpool the lead but credits must go to Sturridge as well. The Englishman made a very smart run taking on two Leicester City defenders and creating space between the two centre backs for Firmino to run into.

-Always ready for a counter attack

In the late stages, Leicester tried to take whatever they could from the game leaving spaces behind for a counter attack. Liverpool players know this and so, there are players running forward instantly after someone intercepts the ball even if he goes backwards. Such is the case here, where Mane starts running immediately after the ball is stolen. 

Negative

-Suicidal tactics

 It is common in modern football for the keepers to pass the ball to defenders after a goal kick instead of kicking it far away. Nevertheless, this isn’t a tactic which should be used blindly. There are four Liverpool players waiting for the pass and four Leicester City players ready to press. It’s suicidal to pass the ball to the defender who could be overwhelmed by the pressure and make an error such as the howler Lucas made.

-Matip steps out poorly


Matip has shown plenty signs of his abilities already providing hope that he might give an end to Liverpool’s defensive woes. However, in this case he makes a common mistake stepping out of the defensive line as the ball was intercepted in the middle of the field. His reaction is careless as he leaves a lot of space for a lethal player such as Vardy to move into.

Δευτέρα, 29 Αυγούστου 2016

Tactical Analysis: Tottenham - Liverpool 1-1/Premier League/27-8-2016

After that awful defeat last week against Burnley, Liverpool ended the first month of the Premier League with a draw at White Hart Lane. Many fans feel that Liverpool deserved the three points; They had plenty of chances, they had a (wrongly?) disallowed goal, they hit the bar and overall in many times they seemed like the best team. However, the end result is that once again Liverpool failed to maintain the lead which they got in the 43rd minute after James Milner converted the penalty Roberto Firmino earned. But let’s get into more details.

Negatives

Milner being exposed

As Alberto Moreno has been nowhere near good enough for the first team, James Milner has stepped into his place as a left back. Although Milner is one of the more hard working players, he can’t learn that easily and quickly his new position. In this case after the ball is played behind his back, he doesn’t get close enough to Lamela giving the Argentinian many options. 


Counter attacking flaws


Many times counter attacking has proved beneficial but not this time. Liverpool try to get the ball up front quickly but they are doing this with too many players. Hence when Wijnaldum can’t get the ball through Wanyama there’s too much space and too many Tottenham players who haven’t managed to get back creating a very dangerous situation.

Positives

Geggenpressing mentality


 Last year we saw in a matter of cases geggenpressing in practice, the philosophy of Jurgen Klopp, trying to press high and get the ball immediately after losing it. This year it seems like it has been implemented well into the player’s brain and this is another proof of this. As Tottenham plays from behind, 4 Liverpool players are creating a line difficult to get through and when the mistake is made, two of them rush to take advantage of this. At the same time Firmino (no.5) is sitting high waiting to get the ball after it has been stolen.

Bossing the midfield

 Liverpool have the lead and they try to protect it. Divock Origi presses the Tottenham playmaker as 5 Liverpool players in the middle ensure that noone is getting between the lines. In fact, this type of defending needs someone or something special to get through it. And, unfortunately, that special was the ball played by Alderweireld, getting behind the whole Liverpool defence and ending up with the leveller.

Lallana nailing the new position

 We talked already about a player learning a new position. Another one, is Adam Lallana. The Englishman is proving how effective he can be in the middle of the pitch both attacking and defensive wise. His high work rate and exceptional control of the ball make him the perfect man for the job. In this situation he comes back to defend and blocks a shot by Dele Alli.



Δευτέρα, 15 Αυγούστου 2016

Tactical Analysis: Arsenal - Liverpool 3-4/Premier League/14-8-2016

Liverpool started the season with a very important win against Arsenal at Emirates. Those two have provided the fans some exceptional games over the last years with plenty of goals and this match was no exception. Despite going 1-0 down, Liverpool managed to get back into the game with a stunning free kick from Phelippe Coutinho. In the second half 3 quick goals by Lallana, Coutinho and Manè extended the lead to 1-4. However, Arsenal tried to level things up managing to reduce the difference just to one goal. Fortunately Liverpool was able to hold to their lead and get the tree valuable points.
Despite Liverpool showing some great attacking signs in periods of the second half, there was a lack of communication between the lines which was more evident when Arsenal pressed high. Hence it would be better to give more emphasis on the negative than the positive aspects of Liverpool’s game.


Problem on the flanks -

-Moreno woes defensively
 Alberto Moreno started the new season as he ended the last one, horrendously. Early into the game he intercepts a pass to Walcott with his head only to assist Ramsey. Trying to make up for his mistake he rushes erratically out of position and tackles the Welshman. In this example he got out on top but his lack of discipline was not only highlighted on the penalty which he gave away minutes later but also… 

…here. Moreno is the one to start the counter attack coping well with Walcott. After that his attacking mind makes him go forward, miles away from the player he should be aware of. Moreover, he is nowhere near the defensive line as he should; thus when Arsenal get the ball back, Moreno no matter how quick he is, he can’t catch the equally quick Walcott.

Statistics don’t lie. Moreno ended the game winning just 50% of his tackles and 62,5% of duels. Is it time for a new left back?

-Clyne steps out of position

Clyne was one of the most consistent players last season. However, in the second half and especially after the introduction of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain he lost his concentration at times. In this case, he steps out of position meaninglessly trying to intercept a pass to Cazorla leaving Chamberlain behind him ready to make the run as he is onside. 

Liverpool defend too deep -
As Arsenal attack mainly from the flanks the ball ends up to Santi Cazorla on the edge of the box. The space and the time which is given to him call for an easy try. The shot is made but the Spaniard doesn’t even hit the target. Regardless, at least one of Liverpool midfielders should step out to block his shot. Instead the only one to react quickly is Sadio Mane. 

Attacking trio cooperates well +
Liverpool presented some great pieces of play during the game and the second goal from Lallana emphasized that. Liverpool attacking trio –Coutinho, Firmino, Mane- exchanged a couple of passes wide on the pitch getting most of the Arsenal defense high in order to mark them. As a result, when the ball is played to Wijnaldum, Arsenal’s defense is all over the place with Lallana and Clyne making runs while totally unmarked.

Σάββατο, 13 Αυγούστου 2016

Premier League: The 2016-17 season starts

The 2016/17 Premier League season starts today with a plentiful of games. However Liverpool's season doesn't start until tomorrow when the Reds travel to Emirates in a clash with -hopefully- title rivals, Arsenal.

After a long time without any major game to comment on, the blog is back on track with tactical analysis on every Liverpool game. Stay tuned!

Δευτέρα, 16 Μαΐου 2016

Tactical Analysis: West Bromwich Albion - Liverpool 1-1/Premier League/15-5-2016

In the last game of the season Liverpool faced West Bromwich at Hawthorns. A fairly boring game finished level after Jordon Ibe’s solo goal cancelled West Brom’s lead taken with a beautiful strike by Salomon Rondon. Klopp’s men were woeful both attackingly and defensively wise, hence there is no attacking play worth analysis. The only positive sign was Cameron Brannagan in midfield. The final 8th place means that the only way European football will be played next year at Anfield is a win on Wednesday.

Smith's lack of attention
 The defense, consisted of Flanagan, Skrtel, Lucas and Smith was horrendous throughout the game. West Brom got in front, following a bad pass in the midfield. Skrtel is sitting too deep as Lucas isn’t aware of Rondon making the run behind him. In addition Brad Smith should mark Rondon or at least get quickly back. Only until the ball is delivered to Rondon, does the youngster sprint towards the attacker, showing a total lack of awareness.

Rondon unmarked
 Rondon created all type of problems for the Liverpool defense and should have scored in a number of occasions. In this instance, Brad Smith once again fails to defend on the flank forcing Lucas getting out of position. Skrtel shows once more that he isn’t able of adapting to the Klopp system as he stays too deep without on the same time marking someone closely. This situation finds Rondon alone in the edge of the box catching, at the end of the move, a header just wide.

Three players keeping everyone onside
 It gets kind of repetitive to mention the same thing every week out, but Liverpool players are unable to defend set pieces properly. As the ball is delivered, there are three Liverpool players on the same line with just one West Brom player. That means that every other West Brom attacker behind him is onside. Not only this, but the one West Brom player in front, Rondon eventually manages to fire a powerful header in the post showing the inconvenience of this Liverpool defense.

Ojo's lazyness
Sheyi Ojo has been excellent lately showing great ability when attacking. However he lacks awareness when defending set pieces being lazy marking his player. In this picture Salomon Rondon is in the heart of the Liverpool box all alone with Ojo nowhere near him. Moreover, when the West Brom attacker miscues his shot, Ojo stops running towards him, giving the striker time to unleash another effort on goal.

Πέμπτη, 12 Μαΐου 2016

Tactical Analysis: Liverpool - Chelsea 1-1/ Premier League/11-5-2016

Christian Benteke’s late equalizer secured Liverpool a point in a 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Anfield. After some great chances in the first fifteen minutes, Liverpool didn’t show the desire to win the game, hence the rejuvenated Hazard found the opportunity to score a fantastic solo goal. Chelsea looked also dangerous while counter attacking, with Simon Mignolet making some outstanding saves. But, all this doesn’t matter as every Liverpool fan’s attention is on the Europa League final on Wednesday. 

Tactically correct, skillfully wrong
Hazard scored a wonderful solo goal to give Chelsea the lead taking on four Liverpool players. However it is interesting how bad Liverpool defended. Although Milner and Can are in good positions Can gives space to Hazard going in the other way. Moreover, Lovren, who again is in the right spot, as the Belgian is one on one with him doesn’t move towards him letting him have a free shot.

Opportunities are wasted frustratingly
 Liverpool were awful for the majority of the game until Klopp made his substitutions. However this situation was caused by the selfishness of a lot of players shooting from distance. In this case Sturridge has the ball in the edge of the box. Lallana is on the far post waiting for a cross, Milner asks for the ball unmarked, Firmino runs towards Sturridge to give him options and Coutinho is standing behind the Englishman alone. Disturbingly, Sturridge decides to shoot aimlessly causing frustration.

Substitutions change the game

 Klopp’s changes really helped the side to get back into the game. Joe Allen makes a superb cross into the box which eventually ends up to Ojo. The young Englishman gets behind Azpilicueta in the far post. At the same time, as Liverpool throw bodies into the box, with the presence of the physical Christian Benteke, Daniel Sturridge is unmarked, despite all the blue shirts around him.

Benteke's presence is useful
 Although Begovic gifted Liverpool the equalizer, was it a good cross from Ojo, it could have well ended up in the back of the net. Benteke again is inside the box providing danger for the Chelsea defenders while Sturridge is once again totally unmarked on the edge of the box waiting for a poor clearance or a pass from Ojo.

Τρίτη, 10 Μαΐου 2016

Tactical Analysis: Liverpool - Watford 2-0/Premier League/8-5-2016

Following another magical European night, Klopp rested, yet again, a lot of his star players in the premier league. That didn’t create problems for the Liverpool team, which overcame the obstacle of Watford by 2-0. Klopp’s focus is certainly the Europa League, thus young players will continue to play in the final two Premier League games. Benteke made a rare appearance on the starting line up, contributing to the first goal. 

Benteke poor positioning
 This image shows why Christian Benteke should play with a partner up front. Coutinho gets the ball inside the box, however there is noone inside the penalty area to notch the ball into the net. Benteke, as the main striker should be in the highlighted area. Instead he is behind every Watford defender leaving no options to Coutinho, who ends up shooting just wide.

Benteke plays behind the defense
 Liverpool caught the Watford defense sleeping, after a quickly executed foul. Christian Benteke plays behind the defense but is aware of it hence, before the ball is delivered to him, he gets onside. As he makes a simple header, the incoming Joe Allen finishes calmly, getting Liverpool in front.

 Lucas steps poorly out of the defense
 Watford could have pulled one back, wasn’t it for Mignolet denying Ighalo outstandingly. Lucas Leiva partnered Martin Skrtel in the defense although he is a defensive midfielder. This flaw is highlighted in this image. Lucas steps out of the defensive line to mark closely Troy Deeney, not realizing that he creates a huge gap between Skrtel and Moreno where Ighalo could run into.

Gegenpressing once more results in a goal 
This is yet another example of how effective is the way that Klopp wants his team to press. Although the ball is in Watford’s half, three Liverpool players move forward instead of going back. Ojo ends up intercepting the ball and Roberto Firmino takes advantage of this scoring a solo goal.

Τετάρτη, 20 Απριλίου 2016

Tactical Analysis: Bournemouth - Liverpool 1-2/Premier League/17-4-2016

Jurgen Klopp made 10 (!) changes to the side, which made that huge comeback against Dortmund on Thursday, including a lot of youngsters into the line up, one of them being Danny Ward who made his Premier League debut with Liverpool. Despite all those changes, the brilliance of Daniel Sturridge and Roberto Firmino was enough for Liverpool to win easier than the final 1-2 score might seem. 

Roberto Firmino works as a false nine
 When most of Liverpool’s attackers were on the sidelines, Roberto Firmino was taking their place showing with goals what an excellent goal instinct he has. In this image all of Bournemouth’s defense attention is on Sturridge and Ibe. Firmino watches the empty space into the box and runs to get there. Eventually this movement sees him getting the rebound from Sturridge’s strong backheel which was saved by Artur Boruc.

 Sturridge's brilliance
 Sturridge is through on goal, however there are two Bournemouth players catching up with him. Having Ojo way behind him and Origi also marked, the Englishman has limited options either to go through either to produce some great skill and break some ankles as he does. This proves why Sturridge is vital for Liverpool; no matter how marked he is he can create something from nothing.

Gegenpressing at its best
Allen, becoming slowly but surely a cult hero at Anfield, presses high on the pitch winning eventually the ball. The moment he gets it, Sturridge and Firmino are making runs. The Welshman passes to Sturridge, who is through on goal and chips the ball over Boruc just to see it hitting the post. This is another example of gegenpressing, Klopp’s method of winning the ball shortly after losing it, and counter attacking immediately.

No matter the defence, set pieces are a threat

Kolo Toure and Lucas Leiva were deployed as centre backs while Randall and Smith were on the flanks. This whole new defense showed exactly the same inefficiencies when it came to set pieces. Six Bournemouth players are inside the box when the ball is delivered. No1 is all alone in the far post, while no 6 is standing with two Liverpool players marking him despite not posing any threat whatsoever. In addition one Bournemouth player is outside the box waiting for a poor clearance without anyone’s attention on him.

Σάββατο, 16 Απριλίου 2016

Tactical Analysis: Liverpool - Borussia Dortmund 4-3/Europa League/14-4-2016

Liverpool produced one of the biggest come backs in European history, as they managed to get through to the Europa League semi-finals, despite them being down twice by two goals and having to score three in order to progress to the next round. Klopp made some very important mistakes, leaving Allen out of the starting line up, thus Can had to keep the midfield all by himself. When the Welshman was introduced along with Sturridge they changed the outcome of the tie.

Liverpool is slow to recover
Coutinho makes a poor pass for Moreno and Dortmund are counter attacking tremendously well. Five Dortmund players are on the run, while on the same time just four Liverpool players are left to defend. Quite annoying is the fact that three Liverpool attackers can be seen walking instead of trying to recover. 

Sakho's indecisiveness
I mentioned that Can was left alone in the midfield and here are the consequences of this strange decision by Klopp. The German midfielder is too far away from blocking that ball going through to Aubameyang, who is quick as a flash. However, Sakho is too slow to decide whether he will mark closely the attacker or whether he is going to keep a defensive line with Lovren. In the end, he is too slow, obviously, to catch Aubameyang, who scores Dortmund’s second goal on the night.

Reus gets behind Clyne
 Again Sakho is not in a good spot. Clyne who marks Reus knows that the German winger is in an offside position; at least he thinks so as Dejan Lovren and Alberto Moreno keep the same line with the right back. However, Sakho, marking Aubameyang isn’t aware of Reus’s run behind Clyne. Hence, he keeps him onside and Marco Reus takes advantage of this situation with a beautiful finesse shot in the down right corner.

Liverpool attack with style
 Liverpool managed to score a very important goal just in the second minute of the second half with the man in form - Divock Origi. Following some beautiful passes in the midfield three Liverpool players make runs and give options for a possible pass. Eventually the ball comes to the Belgian, who finishes calmly.
Reus comes behind the defence
Liverpool work smartly
 These two pictures show a free kick from exactly the same place. The first resulted in Lovren skying it into the Kop, while the second one ended up with the Croatian scoring the goal that ultimately gave Liverpool the ticket to the next phase. In the first picture Milner crossed directly into the box, while on the second he passed to Sturridge getting more closely to the box bringing more pressure around the Dortmund defense.

Δευτέρα, 11 Απριλίου 2016

Tactical Analysis: Liverpool - Stoke City 4-1/Premier League/11-4-2016

Despite Klopp making seven changes to the line up which faced up Dortmund on Thursday, Liverpool were able to overcome the obstacle of Stoke City. As usual, Stoke approached the game defensively, trying to exploit Crouch’s power in the air as well as the strong wind around the Merseyside area. Although Liverpool did well to break the opposition’s strong defense down, it wasn’t the same case for set pieces and corners

Set piece problems continue
 Liverpool gave away their lead, which came from a splendid strike from Alberto Moreno, after a header by Bojan Krkic. As the ball is delivered inside the box, Kolo Toure is marking no one while on the same time he keeps every Stoke player onside. Bojan takes advantage of the Ivorian’s poor positioning and gets behind Ojo, who should mark the striker closely.

Toure defends poorly

Again, coming from a set piece, Cameron had a huge chance to get Stoke back in the game, only to watch Simon Mignolet denying him with a wonderful save. Kolo Toure starts the run too soon to keep the dangerous Peter Crouch away from the ball, but he doesn’t realize that he keeps onside two Stoke players, who are behind the Liverpool defense. 

Liverpool stretch the opposition apart
In order to break up Stoke’s defense, the Liverpool full backs are high on the pitch stretching Mark Hughes side. Ojo and Sturridge sit between the lines, waiting for the chance to get inside the box, as Firmino waits for the ball just behind those two. In addition, since Milner and Stewart rest behind, Allen finds the opportunity to get higher on the pitch giving options to Toure. 

 Ojo makes wonders, Sturridge scores
 This image shows exactly the same example of how Liverpool attacked Stoke’s defense. Stewart and Milner stay behind aware of a possible counter attack. Moreno and Clyne are high on the pitch, with the Spaniard giving options to Ojo who works this time as a winger. Sturridge makes the run into the box and Allen is ready to copy the striker’s move. Finally, Firmino, in his no.10 role always behind Sturridge and Ojo, gives choices to the young Englishman, who ends up assisting his partner after getting away from Shaqiri with an out-of-this-world move.

 Tight space, yet nice play
 Every Stoke player, apart from Crouch, is defending creating a very tight space for Liverpool to play with the ball. However, the Reds find a way to overcome this wall of Stoke players with Firmino shooting on target, following some great passing by his teammates as it is seen in this image.

Σάββατο, 9 Απριλίου 2016

Tactical Analysis: Borussia Dortmund - Liverpool 1-1/Europa League/7-4-2016

With Liverpool and Dortmund fans singing together “You’ll never walk alone” the stage was set for what it was a really important game. Dortmund missed a plentiful of chances; however, Liverpool had the most important ones. Divock Origi put the Reds ahead, getting in behind the Dortmund defence. However Hummels was the one to even things up just two minutes after the blow was whistled for the start of the second half. The final score means nothing is decided yet between the two teams. Liverpool defended dynamically keeping quiet both Reus and Aubameyang. However some mistakes need to be highlighted to show that our defense is far away from becoming a defensive force whatsoever. 

Lovren and Sakho miscommunicate
 Early in the game, Weigl sees the run of Shmelzer behind the Liverpool defence and passes to him beautifully. The problem for Liverpool is the miscommunication between Sakho and Lovren. The Frenchman has stepped out unreasonably while his partner is sitting too deep resulting in keeping both Shmelzer and Durm onside. However the pair made up for their mistake blocking both shots which came after Shmelzer’s run.

Lovren is aware of Aubameyang
 The dangerous Aubameyang was silent throughout the game and this image proves why. Mkhitaryan makes a beautiful through pass for the striker but Dejan Lovren has followed the Dortmund attacker’s run, hence he makes a very important tackle in difficult circumstances, giving away only a corner.

Set pieces are still a problem
 This is yet another example of how poorly Liverpool defend set pieces. There are just four Dortmund players inside the box, while on the same time there are seven Liverpool players who keep a zone. However, there is no player in the far post where ultimately Hummel’s header ended up. But what is more concerning is the fact that Dortmund’s skipper, despite being by far the most dangerous player at set pieces, is left alone, with Lallana having to deal with him in the end without, obviously, ineffectively.

Liverpool counter attack dynamically
Liverpool had a huge chance to score a second goal shortly after Hummel’s levelled things up, but despite all their effort Weidenfeller produced a world class save. In this image four Liverpool players wait for the ball, while being totally unmarked, as Dortmund is slow to recover from the counter attack. Although, the defense waits for Allen to shoot, the Welshman does well to notice that his teammates wait on the edge of the box, thus he passes creating the chance. 

Κυριακή, 3 Απριλίου 2016

Tactical analysis: Liverpool - Tottenham 1-1/Premier League/2-4-2016

Liverpool drew 1-1 with in-form Tottenham, who is currently sitting in the second place at the Premier league table. An enjoyable game ended level after two beautiful finishes from Coutinho and Kane. Both teams had a lot of chances to win the game, however, the draw seems like a fair result for the performance which the two teams put in. Now let’s make some points about this Liverpool game.

Klopp’s gegen-pressing put into practice 
 As Tottenham has possession in its half, seven Liverpool players are there in order to press. Dier, who has the ball, is put under pressure by Lallana and Can and loses it in a very risky place. Worth mentioning is Sturridge’s position, as the Englishman waits unmarked for the ball to be stolen in order to run into the empty space behind the Tottenham defence.


Sakho’s shambolic error
Mamadou Sakho showed again his inconsistency and this image proves why. While he is very far away from his defensive partner, Lovren, he tries to win the ball. As he fails miserably to do so, there are four Tottenham players ready to strive counter attacking. Mistakes like that should be punished but, luckily for Liverpool, Dejan Lovren defended the situation exceptionally well.

Sturridge misses a sitter
Daniel Sturridge could put Liverpool ahead in the 35th minute but he fails to do so, as  he fires straight at Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. The Liverpool no.15 doesn’t hold to the ball long enough even though neither Lloris comes out nor any Tottenham defender comes to mark him. Lallana is also there to give Sturridge an option to pass but the latter doesn’t notice him.

Moreno caught sleeping

This is another moment to emphasize how poor Moreno can be defensive wise. As the ball comes in, Son makes the run immediately as the Spaniard doesn’t notice him. At the same time Sakho and Lovren aren’t keeping the same defensive line, thus the Croatian keeps onside both Son and Kane.