Jurgen Klopp admits his Liverpool side utilised a new setup for the first time during Saturday’s 4-1 win over West Ham.
The German has primarily put his faith in a 4-3-3 formation since arriving on Merseyside, but opted for a change in aid of greater defensive stability at the London Stadium.
Klopp’s purpose for implementing a 4-4-2 was somewhat ironic when considering the strong attacking lineup he set out.
“We changed the system, training yesterday for the first time with it,” he told the Liverpool Echo.
“We did the 4-4-2, which looked maybe from the beginning like a very offensive line-up, but in fact had a very different idea.”
“We wanted to defend deeper, more compact, and use the space for the counter-attacks.”
“It looked like an offensive line-up, but it was actually a really defensive line-up.”
“We had two ‘6s’ (Emre Can and Gini Wijnaldum) and Sadio (Mane) and Ox (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain) on the wings had to do the job, like Roberto and Mo did, to defend. That helps the last line!”
“We will never know how the game will be if we don’t score first, but until then it was an open game. We had to get used to it a little bit, and it was difficult for the boys to wait a little bit more for the challenge, rather than jumping straight away.”
The adjustment marked Klopp striving to make amends for the defensive horror show in last month’s 4-1 defeat to Tottenham at Wembley.
It certainly paid off, with Can and Wijnaldum proving to be valuable protection for their back four and Liverpool’s counterattacking stars taking full advantage of the space the Reds’ deep line created.
A calculated approach saw Klopp’s men keep the ball when they needed to and make the most of every West Ham attack that was broken up.
With Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah in the same team, Liverpool can afford not to over-commit men going forward.