Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Liverpool are static and lethargic

With Trent Alexander-Arnold inverted and Tsimikas wide, once the ball is played wide, the only pass that opens up is the pass into Alexis Mac Allister centrally.

Liverpool have trouble progressing out of their own half when they try to play through Konstantinos Tsimikas because the only player moving to open up for the pass is Ryan Gravenberch, who moves from the left half-space to the byline. Everyone else is static. Playing through Virgil Van Dijk and Ibramihia Konate is different; there are 2-3 players moving, looking to get open.

Figure 1.1 - Virgil Van Dijk passes to Konstantinos Tsimikas.
Figure 1.2 - Ryan Gravenberch, Alexis Mac Allister, and Virgil Van Dijk all move when Konstantinos Tsimikas receives the ball. Tsimikas passes to Mac Allister.
Figure 1.3 - Alexis Mac Allister has time to switch to Mohamed Salah.

When they pass wide, Tsimikas has three options to move the ball. He has the time and space to pick the pass that will advance the ball into Everton’s half.

Figure 2.1 - Virgil Van Dijk passes to Konstantinos Tsimikas.
Figure 2.2 - The only player that moves is Ryan Gravenberch. Everyone else is static.

No movement whatsoever other than Ryan Gravenberch, so Tsimikas has only one option: pass backward. The pass to Gravenberch and Luis Diaz is blocked off. This happened too often.

60 minutes in, Liverpool only have 1 shot on target. Mohamed Salah had one of the worst performances I’ve seen from him in a Liverpool shirt but scored two goals. They found a way to win. Liverpool is currently operating at 40% of their full potential.

Liverpool was lethargic today, but they were bailed out by Ashley Young. You’d expect restraint from a player that has 20 years of experience playing in the top flight, but Young had to go and get sent off with two yellows.

Other than the fact that Everton went down to ten men, which allowed Liverpool to dominate in Everton’s own half from the 37th minute on, I felt like Harvey Elliot was a huge difference-maker.

Elliot’s close control allows him to prepare the pass when Mohamed Salah is ready to receive, which allows Liverpool to progress more succinctly. The first and second touch from Szoboszlai, Darwin Nunez, and Trent Alexander-Arnold isn’t as crisp and coordinated as Elliot’s. The shorter quick touches are better timed to match Salah’s quick movement. The only other player that is similar in that way is Luis Diaz, but he’s on the other side of the pitch, so that doesn’t help Salah.

Elliot also plays like he gets limited playing time. Like Marc Cucurella for Chelsea, Elliot knows he’ll only get a limited amount of minutes, so he has to take advantage of the time he’s given when he’s given time. He doesn’t play angry like Cucurella, but he’s always in that heightened level of ‘I need to do something that will get me regular playing time.’ Never relaxed, always moving.

Alexander-Arnold always finds a way to play Salah in around the corner, but when the play is at a slower pace, they struggle to eloquently penetrate the penalty area. Everything is forced and rushed.

Elliot has only one start this season for Liverpool. He should start more. The difficult thing is, who do you drop? But I think he is one of the keys to them getting a better balance in the 2nd phase.

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