Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Joe Gomez dropping creates space for Liverpool's third man

Liverpool had an easier time progressing past Nottingham Forest’s mid-block when Joe Gomez dropped between Virgil Van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate because it opened space for the third man pass to Mac Allister, Diaz, Gakpo, and Elliott.

Figure 1.1 - Joe Gomez stays in the pivot with Alexis Mac Allister, while Harvey Elliot drifts over to the left.

Luis Diaz and Harvey Elliot were much more active moving and dropping into pockets on either side of the pitch to help progress the ball into the final third.

They’d be free, like Elliot is in this example, because their man could not follow them across the field, and everyone else on that side of the field was already marked.

The problem is that Joe Gomez, acting as a 6, was staying in the double pivot with Alexis Mac Allister. This clogged the middle of the pitch.

Figure 2.1 - Joe Gomez drops between Virgil van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate.

When Gomez dropped between the center-backs, everything opened up.

Figure 3.1 - Joe Gomez drops between the center-backs, opening space for Harvey Elliott to drop and receive the ball.

Now Elliott has space on the ball to recieve and turn to play to the third man, Cody Gakpo. If Gomez stays in the pivot, Mac Allister can’t form that triangle with Elliott and Gakpo.

Figure 4.1 - Joe Gomez drops between the center-backs.
Figure 4.2 - Bobby Clark carries the ball forward and the third man, Alexis Mac Allister, is free.

When Gomez drops, when Liverpool are deeper in their own half, the ball is played forward, Mac Allister is free as a third man.

Then the knock-on effect continues because you give Andrew Robertson and Conor Bradley more license to get forward and pin Nottingham Forest’s full-backs back. They don’t have to worry about helping Ibrahima Konate or Virgil van Dijk build-up from the back.

Match: Nottingham Forest 0-1 Liverpool, 2 March 2024

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