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Liverpool vs West Brom


Rory Fitzgerald

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Set up

 

West Brom's greatest quality is their willingness to work for each other and play as a team. Whilst the differences are subtle, I see their set up more as a 4-4-1-1 rather than a 4-2-3-1 based on the mandate of the wide midfielders and the role of Sessegnon as the link man between midfield and attack.

 

Steve Clarke has settled on his defence and 2 holding midfielders this season with the rotation happening at the other end of the pitch. The quartet of McAuley & Olsson in central defence and Mulumbu & Yacob holding the midfield ahead of them is one of the more robust & uncompromising in the league. They are complimented by Billy Jones at right back and Liam Ridgewell at left back. In an age whereby full-backs are adding alot more to the offensive side of the game, Jones & Ridgewell are full-backs of the more conventional variety. Neither are blessed with great pace but both are well disciplined defensively. As such, what the back 6 may lack in individual quality, they make up for by being a tight unit and seem to be have been well drilled under Steve Clarke's tutelage.

 

 

Defensive support

 

Clarke has revealed that he worked hard with the players over the summer in a bid to tighten things up at the back going into the new campaign "In pre-season we just focused on getting back to basics. If you're solid and you don't give too many goals away then you always give yourself the opportunity to create in games. If you give yourself the opportunity, we have shown in recent matches that we can score goals." He added: "Am I pleased defensively? Absolutely! Defensively, as a team, we have been much better".

 

Below are a couple of examples of how West Brom have managed to keep it tight against Man Utd & Arsenal. Unlike the Newcastle Preview whereby Ben Arfa & Remy provided no support, Steve Clarke would seem to insist that his wide players drop back in to provide cover in the full back areas in order to allow the rest of the defence to remain tight and compact .

 

The following examples show what kind of obstacle West Brom can present when they aren't countered and get time to get men behind the ball. This is an example from the Utd game of how Scott Sinclair's position allows the rest of the defence to remain tight and not become stretched.

 

 

1WBAWideCoverX.png

 

 

 

Here is another example of the wide players coming deep. With Arsenal being a team that generally plays a narrower game than most, West Brom's 2 banks of 4 are able to squeeze in field.

 

 

5WBAWideCoverX.png

 

 

In the screen shot below, similar to those above, West Brom have enough men back to ensure that Olsson & McAuley are not pulled from the center of the box.

 

4WBAWideCover.png

 

 

Dominating midfield

 

One notable observation from West Brom's defensive positioning is that they start deep . That is their regular gameplan. With Mulumbu & Yacob ahead and the wide players putting in a shift of work, Clarke seems to have taken the approach that if there is going to be space on the pitch when the opposition have the ball then its better for the space to be ahead of the defence rather than between/behind it. Against Utd & Arsenal, Carrick saw plenty of the ball and attempted a staggering 103 passes with a 91% pass completion rate. Similarly, Arsenal's two deep midfielders (Flamini & Arteta) were able to get on the ball and attempted 134 passes between them with a 97% pass completion rate each. None of this matters much to WBA, their defenders are not the quickest and as seen above, the midfield seems more intent on providing support when play enters the final 3rd to allow the back line to keep their shape and remain compact (as opposed to contesting possession much higher up the pitch like Southampton do). As such, Liverpool's midfield could see alot of the ball in non-threatening areas. The following graphic perhaps gives some credence to this observation with WBA being the team that rank 2nd last in terms of tackles per game this season - which may indicate 2 things;

 

  • that the team don't contest the midfield area as much as other teams, and
     
  • when the opposition are retaining possession the focus is on getting into position and creating a tough unit to penetrate rather than defending on the front foot and proactively trying to win the ball back.

 

 

WBATackles.png

 

Here is a graphic which seems to suggest that teams find it hard to create many good opportunities against WBA. In the 1st graphic, they are the team that have conceded the fewest shots within the 6 yard box - perhaps due to the doggedness of McAuley & Olsson not being caught out of position too much. Ideally teams will look to restrict the opposition to shooting from range and WBA have been 4th best team at this so far this season - perhaps due to the limited space/gaps in the box that opponents try their luck from range.

 

ShotPosition.png

 

 

As only 5 graphics are permitted in 1 post, the rest of the preview is continued here;

 

The Inside Right

 

The rest will look at West Brom's attacking players, how we might find some space and how Saturday may turn out.

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Away from home they're one of the lowest in the league for possession, one of the lowest for tackles made per game and yet 4th in fouls per game.

Offensively, one of the lowest for shots per game or shots on target per game and they're supposedly playing only 1 through ball on average per away game ( we're playing 6 )

 

 

So it looks like an afternoon of dominating possession, lots of freekicks we do nothing with, a few scares on the counter followed by them scoring from a set piece

 

1 of their 3 goals away from home has come from a set piece ( all three of Southamptons have )

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Away from home they're one of the lowest in the league for possession, one of the lowest for tackles made per game and yet 4th in fouls per game.

Offensively, one of the lowest for shots per game or shots on target per game and they're supposedly playing only 1 through ball on average per away game ( we're playing 6 )

 

 

How the frig did they beat United at Old Trafford then?

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How the frig did they beat United at Old Trafford then?

 

They had about 40% of the ball. Played a 4-5-1 and a couple of their players had Lisbie's

 

If you have a few " mercurial " players in the squad then consistency can be a problem but you can surprise the opposition.

As Rory says, they're well drilled from defence to midfield and are yet to lose away from home - played four against Everton, Stoke, Fulham and the Mancs. At Old Trafford they reduced Utd to 9 shots

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Back to four at the back maybe ? Skrtel & Henderson out Lucas & Alberto in ?

 

3-0 win .

 

I'd revert to 442 for this :

 

--------------------------Mignolet

 

 

-Johnson------Skrtel--------Sahko-------Sissoko

 

 

-----------------Gerrard------Henderson

 

------------Alberto--------------------------------Moses

 

-----------------Sturridge-------Suarez

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I'd revert to 442 for this :

 

--------------------------Mignolet

 

 

-Johnson------Skrtel--------Sahko-------Sissoko

 

 

-----------------Gerrard------Henderson

 

------------Alberto--------------------------------Moses

 

-----------------Sturridge-------Suarez

 

 

 

 

 

I would prefer ...........

 

 

 

 

 

------------------------Mignolet

 

Johnson--------Toure------Sakho---------Cissokho

 

--------------Gerrard-------------Lucas

 

Suarez----------------Alberto------------------Moses

 

------------------------Sturridge

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I'd revert to 442 for this :

 

--------------------------Mignolet

 

 

-Johnson------Skrtel--------Sahko-------Sissoko

 

 

-----------------Gerrard------Henderson

 

------------Alberto--------------------------------Moses

 

-----------------Sturridge-------Suarez

 

have you tucked alberto in deliberately there? as in he plays more in the hole and johnson does a double-job up the right with suarez and sturridge both drifting and floating a lot?

 

i like alberto but he doesn't have the look of a wide right in a flat 4-4-2 about him.

 

yes to cissokho keeping his place by the way, whether enrique's fit again or not. but foot up his - and others's - a*** when defending dead balls please.

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have you tucked alberto in deliberately there? as in he plays more in the hole and johnson does a double-job up the right with suarez and sturridge both drifting and floating a lot?

 

i like alberto but he doesn't have the look of a wide right in a flat 4-4-2 about him.

 

yes to cissokho keeping his place by the way, whether enrique's fit again or not. but foot up his - and others's - a*** when defending dead balls please.

 

Yeah, it was deliberate. Agree with what you say.

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Based on Rory's intro I'd ditch the 3-4-1-2 for this game. (and I'm actually a fan of that system for the players we have. If they play one up front with one deeper we have one man too much in central defence and no one to pick up the deep lying forward.

 

I want Rodgers to go back to the system he appears to like the most - 4-1-2-3. Do that but with a few changes (mad or out of the box options in () ).

 

Mignolet

Johnson - Kolo - Sakho - Cissokho

Lucas (Agger)

Stevie - Hendo (Alberto)

Moses - Sturridge - Suarez

 

Something like Martino's Barcelona.

 

barca1_zps707c9750.jpg

 

But a few rules need to be enforced. Lucas (Agger) should always hold his position in front to he CB's. No chasing or pressing the opponent until the team has regained the defensive shape. Meaning fb's need to be back level with the cb's before Lucas can move up and when he does that the whole backline needs to follow him to keep the space between Lucas and Kolo/Sakho at a minimum.

 

Another thing would be to try to hit our front three early if possible. Those three with one runner from midfield could cause havoc. If that pass isn't on slow the game down and be patient with short passes moving the ball (and their defence around).

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Has Alberto done anything to warrant a place in the starting lineup?

 

 

People are getting a little overzealous but I'd rather him in the hole than Moses who plainly isnt suited to it.

 

 

I just think that Moses is far better suited to playing out wider , Alberto would add another creative player into the centre who is more naturally accustomed to playing there .

 

Going four at the back , then looking for Johnson and Cissokho to get forward and add more width this would mean adding Lucas back into the centre of midfield to add a little bit more disciplined protection , Henderson has lots of energy but at times because of that he can chase to far and get dragged out of position .

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yes

 

Aye. I'm all for giving a player a two or three games to proove themselves but Moses has been a bit ' meh ' since his debut and doesn't appear suited to that role. Correlate that with Alberto showing promise in his brief appearances and it seems logical.

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Aye. I'm all for giving a player a two or three games to proove themselves but Moses has been a bit ' meh ' since his debut and doesn't appear suited to that role. Correlate that with Alberto showing promise in his brief appearances and it seems logical.

 

 

agree with this, Moses had a very good first half at Swansea but has looked weak since

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