31 August 2011

Five-a-Side Fluidity

Watching Liverpool matches since the King himself, Kenny Dalglish took over has without a doubt been extremely refreshing compared to the dark days that immediately preceded it (and to an extent, bar the Benitez era, even the previous decade).

I'm sure it's much more than a case of "go out there and play ball lads" but it certainly seems like that - the five, six and some times up to eight offensive players look like their enjoying themselves playing five-a-side footie. It's not yet Barcelona-type 1,000 passes football but once the players gel, I'm sure it would pretty much get quite damn close. I'm sure it also gives the opposition some headaches. In the previous match against Bolton, Suarez constantly dropped deep with the space being filled inter-changeably by Downing, Henderson, Kuyt and Adam. The movement off the ball was fluid and almost instinctive, it was an absolute joy to watch. Hell, even Martin Skrtel who must've liked what he was looking at in his unusual rightback role, joined in the action and looked like a completely different player.

On the other hand, being a fan of the Arrigo Sacchi approach employed by Benitez, I do feel a bit uncomfortable with the deep-lying defensive line. It's not an issue when the team is playing well but against opponents  who are pro-active and are good at carving-up space (normally the bigger clubs and clubs on the continent), it can get a bit nervy and in theory, without a good link player can isolate the team's offensive element resulting in hoofball. Of course, this is just my preference on the matter. When implemented well, this safety-first approach with the defence has been proven to be effective i.e. Chelsea in the Mourinho era. Clearly, Steve Clarke has had some influence on Dalglish's tactics with regard to this but could it also be because of Jamie Carragher's lack of pace these days?

It'd be interesting to see whether a different high-line/compact approach would be taken should there be a difference in personnel.

Talking of personnel, it's good to know that Liverpool have signed Sebastian Coates. The player himself looks like at a steal at the price being reported but what's more important is the fact that Liverpool appear to be getting the type of players that the club actually wants. No more third or fourth choice players because we have had to sell first or plainly because we didn't have enough funds in the first place.

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