Liverpool have been using the 3-5-2 formation over the last couple of games and it has yielded success. The adoption of this formation was based on the players Liverpool had available at the time following the 1-0 defeat to Southampton at Anfield. Against the Saints, Rodgers started with four central defenders at the back and that failed badly. Liverpool have a wealth of quality centre backs right now so thus Rodgers opted to try the 3-5-2 formation and have Sakho, Skrtel and Toure at the back.
Against Arsenal, Liverpool yet again started with 3-5-2 but changed to 4-4-2 at half time with the introduction of Coutinho for left back Cissokho at the break.
Brendan Rodgers explains on Liverpoolfc.com his reasoning for this change.
“We’ve played well in this system – it has worked well for us. And I was just reluctant to change that.
“We had identified the areas that could possibly hurt us when you play that system. Every system has a vulnerability to it; with 3-5-2, it is on the sides.
“I felt that they were getting a little bit too much joy, they have got good movement in their team and the players isolate well, numerically, on the sides.
“We went in 1-0 down so I felt that if we brought on Coutinho, played narrower with Jordan narrow to give us four in a central area, it allows us to retain the front two – who obviously can score goals.
“I’ve got to give praise to the players, they kept going. We were 2-0 down with over half an hour to play. Arsenal had better control of the game; they have got good technicians so they can control the game.
“But we were always in the game because we created chances. The only disappointment was that, in good positions, we failed to capitalise on that. Overall, they probably deserved it.
“We’re disappointed with the goals that we conceded, but we’ll reflect on it and look to get three points now against Fulham.”
As Rodgers explains, the 3-5-2 formation relies a lot on the wing backs to come to the party. Against Arsenal the Reds were without Glen Johnson who plays a critical role for Liverpool, instead young Jon Flanagan made his first appearance for the season in such a high profile game. Aly Cissokho came in on the left and in all fairness, Jose Enrique who is currently out injured is a much better left back option than Cissokho. So without your two best wing backs it was always going to be difficult for Liverpool against Arsenal.
Many fans are now wondering if maybe it is not time for Liverpool to dump the 3-5-2 formation and possibly switch back to 4-3-3 as most of our key players are now fit again.