Date: 3rd February 2011 at 12:34pm
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Another victory and a decent display to go with it! King Kenny has brought a new incisiveness and resolve to a team that as recently as the Blackburn game looked totally incapable of either. And as a bonus we got a debut goal from our new number 7. A nervous finish by the striker but encouraging none-the-less!

King Kenny threw a curve ball to the Premier League pre-game team by naming five defenders in his lineup. This lead to instant assumptions about Glen Johnson finally making the right wing role his very own (a subject I totally disagree with most pundits about – Johnson would be a poor winger in my opinion). What Liverpool ended up with was a 3-5-2 formation similar to that employed by Rafa. At the back Kyriakos stepped in where Rafa previously fielded Hyppia to make what is Liverpool’s biggest defensive lineup. We also saw Aurelio slot into a central midfield position in which Rafa used him on a couple of occasions. This clearly shows the advantage of having had King Kenny come in. He’s been to almost every home game and seen the players at close quarters during his involvement as club ambassador.

Kenny showed confidence in his players by asking them to adapt to a new formation and positions. They responded well and were the better team throughout. Defensively we were extremely solid. Reina was only called into his first action of the night well into the second half. John Carew was a handful for our defenders but our extra man in midfield meant Stoke were always reluctant to send anyone up to support the big man.

What was most interesting was our use of the four central midfield players we had on the field. Aurelio and Lucas shared the deeper role while Gerrard and Meireles roamed further up the field. King Kenny seemed to have given them reasonable license to interchange in those pairings. This made for some nice positional interchange which really aided our short passing game. That foursome was weaving around their markers all day. This against an opponent who matched us with five in midfield as well! I believe this was the catalyst for our dominant performance.

Kuyt was fantastic as a lone striker to complement the midfield play. He made himself open, to the obvious pleasure of the commentator. But it was his best performance of the season and could see him causing some selection problems for the boss. Glen Johnson was good down the left side and continues to display a very un-English two footedness. Kelly however really struggled to come to terms with the positional change. Not one of his best games but a learning experience for the talented youngster. At the back Reina was super as usual, pulling off a splendid one-handed reflex save to deny Stoke any chance of an upset.

The treat of the night was the debut of Suarez who came on for Aurelio to join Kuyt up front. I’m sure there was some Dutch secret code going there. He took up the more advanced role of the pair. His first touch in a red shirt bounced of him but from then on he gradually settled. There were glimpses of a great touch and awareness, including a cheeky drag back and heel that almost set up something for the Reds. There were moments of awakening too as he was left on his backside expecting a free kick that never came. Then came the goal. Having been put clean through he delightfully rounded the keeper and quickly shifted onto his left foot to nervously pass one into the net. Replays clearly show the moment he sees the net and his shoulders tense up in anticipation of the first Liverpool goal in the legendary no.7 shirt of his manager. Fortunately the Stoke defender who was close enough to prevent the goal only managed to nudge it against the post and send it spinning in. And the Kop erupted!!

Moment of the Game: King Kenny sending Suarez out to warm up to stop the frustrated crowd from getting to quiet. Masterstroke of management! It’s these small details that might make the difference – p.s. it also helps that King Kenny doesn’t spend the entire half wiping imaginary sweat of his face ala RH.


4 responses to “Stoking the Flame of Recovery”

  1. anteater says:

    Thought Rafa employed a 4-2-3-1 system most of the time and don’t understand why you have to compare Rafa to Kenny. Just like with Torres, Rafa is gone and we should get over it.

  2. MoKo says:

    Quite correct Rafa did use a 4-2-3-1 system almost all the time. The few exceptions included the 3-5-2 as I mentioned. I just thought it was an interesting twist. I really didn’t see it coming and it certainly caught the commentary team napping too.

    What makes it most interesting is that it shows that the coaching team of King Kenny, Steve Clarke and Sammy Lee are right up to speed with the capabilities of their players. The Aurelio move especially shows that because it’s rare to have a wide midfielder who doubles up as a central midfielder. Either they picked it up themselves or spotted it from Rafa’s days. Either way it’s good to see.

    Rafa and Torres are gone…Long Live Liverpool!

  3. kk man says:

    Actually this formation is more of a 3-4-3 than a 3-5-2

    To be more precise it is a 3-4-2-1 formation.

    the traditional 3-5-2 or a 3-4-1-2 formation was used when Mcmanaman was the free role behind the two central striker.

    Actually Rafa had use this tactic pre Torres years.
    when we had 3 good strikers Kyut, crouch and Belamy and 3 good Central def and instead of rotating the 3 strikers n cen def and picking only 2 of the 3 we just played them 3 all together.

    We had also two great CM(Xabi n Gerrard) with 2 good wing back ( Riise n Finnan) when all these guys were younger


    At that time we were still playing primary
    the traditional 4-4-2 or the modify 4-4-1-1
    The 4-2-3-1 was still being inn ts infancy.

    This 3-4-3 was also use by the brasil 2002 world cup champ.
    Iw was the best system to employ the talent of 2 great wing back Cafu n roberto Carlos plus the legendary 3R attacking player of Ronaldo Ronaldinho n rivaldo.

    This formation is very solid and sturdy and easily beat a traditional 4-4-2 Long ball style or double winger.

    This 3-4-4 formation has its draw back though. It is best employ in a mini tournament than in a league system as it is very solid but may not get the points.

    It is also very stresses on the physical ability of the 2 wingback as the engine all season long. Plus the main attacker
    consist of the 3 Forward while in a 4-2-3-1 at haw a main attack of the 4 Froward.

    This is a good system and can be use to utilize the best out of 3 central def without exposing any of their weakness. We can play Soto and uses his height without exposing his weakness in Pace in a 3-4-3 system. but I see us playing Either a 4-2-3-1 system or a slighty solid 4-3-3 as our primary system. 4-4-2 is dead n I just dunno how Man U can get away with it. Man U wont go far in Europe with 4-4-2 though.

  4. MoKo says:

    One of the main thinking points for me in looking at formations is player distribution in defensive positions and in attacking positions.

    I really like the concept of a 4-2-3-1 but i don’t think our personel are best suited to it. That attacking mid 3 I feel should include players who operate from wide positions so as to distribute players evenly in attack.

    Only Ancelotti’s AC Milan pulled of that formation without any wide players. He could call on some of the best midfielder in Eurpoe at the time. Without attacking wide players or Kaka/ Pirlo level players I think we would struggle against good opposition.

    I fear the 3-4-3 because on defence we could be out flanked. I fear the 4-3-3 because our mid might be overwhelmed.

    I think we might have to settle for a 4-4-2 until we either get a great wide player or another top class attacking central mid. I do have to agree that 4-4-2 is a dead system against top teams.