Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson seems to have made a stuttering start to his time on Merseyside, picking up 4 points in his first 3 league games. Although its very much early days and a lot could happy in the next 35 gamers, if Hodgson is to take Liverpool back to where they belong in the coveted top four of the Premier League, how will he best utilize the players at his disposal to ensure he gets the best results?
Some years ago as part of a Uefa training program, Hodgson gave an insight into what he believes are the pros and cons for different formation set ups, with some very interesting ideas. However although his knowledge gained through years of managerial experience in many different countries has allowed the former Fulham boss to build up a great understanding of the intricacies of football and the best way to be successful, which of these formations would best suit Liverpool this coming season?
Through Hodgson’s comments in the past and team selections during his time in England with Blackburn, Fulham and now Liverpool, it would seem that Hodgson very much prefers having, like most clubs in England, a 4 man defensive line. This enables a side like Liverpool to provide enough defensive cover for Pepe Reina with the likes of Martin Skrtel and Jamie Carragher sitting in the centre, while similarly enabling the likes of Glen Johnson and Daniel Agger to work the flanks and give extra numbers in attack when they are needed.
With Liverpool struggling at the moment for two strikers who would get goals in both the Premier League and in Europe on a regular basis, it seems that Roy has begun to favour playing Fernando Torres as the lone striker, anchoring the attack and allowing the players in midfield to move up in support when the Reds go on the attack.
This 4-5-1 formation I believe is one which would best suit Liverpool’s style of play. The four at the back and possibly one defensive midfielder in Lucas sitting in the centre of the park, provides enough defensive options that should ensure the club are more than capable to keep most teams at bay.
This solidity at the back allows Liverpool to build from their defence with the likes of Dirk Kuyt, Joe Cole, new signing Raul Meireles who joined the club from Porto and of course Steven Gerrard pushing forward to support Fernando Torres, with Gerrard effectively becoming a second striker playing off the Spaniard when the side are going forward.
The beauty about the 4-5-1 formation is its ability to change slightly to alter a team’s way of playing considerably. Many may see having the likes of Cole, Jovanovic, Kuyt and Gerrard in midfield as a bit too attack minded, especially for some away encounters away from home, leading the Reds to possibly get caught on the break when pushing forward.
The introduction of Christian Poulsen for one of the midfielders easily solves this problem. Placing him in the side along with Lucas allows Liverpool to play with two defensive midfielders, while still keeping two wingers and if possible allows Steven Gerrard to play with even more attacking freedom because he knows that they is adequate cover both in the defence and in midfield.
It would seem that with the players at his disposal, both Liverpool and Hodgson favour the 4-5-1 as the formation, which they believe is going to allow them to finish the season once again in the top four. However, the season is very much in its infancy and with a long way to go, we could see Hodgson tinker with the set up at Anfield, possibly trying 4-3-3 or even a 3-5-2 in an attempt to find the right formula at Liverpool which would allow the team to be successful in the future.