Last season saw Brendan Rodgers tinker with several formations to accomodate Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez, and this year the situation is no different, other than now we have Sturridge and Balotelli to play up front. Despite the change in personnel, I do not think a change from the diamond as our go to formation is necessary.
Yes, Liverpool have spent a fortune on attacking midfielders this summer but I think that very little change is needed to our starting eleven. The diamond gives Liverpool a real flexibility and allows all of our attacking players to flourish.
From the defense onwards, Liverpool possess a genuine threat to every defense in the world at the moment and the evidence of that is that only one team has kept a clean sheet against us this calendar year. I don’t think I need to specify how that clean sheet was kept. Liverpool have shown all the traits of a goalscoring machine over the past 12 months, and that machine needs to be functioning in every area.
The diamond gives Liverpool some real protection for the back four, and means we will always have options going forward when we regain the ball. For example, when we lose possession Liverpool actually change to a 4-3-2-1 formation with just one player at the top. What this does, is give Liverpool some amazing options when they chase down the ball and lets our midfield and attack come forward as one, whilst the long ball will still be available.
So what is the difference between playing 4-3-3 from the start and the diamond? Well it means we lose a top class striker, either Sturridge or Balotelli will drop out of the side to accomodate an extra attacking midfielder. But why would you do that? Liverpool and Manchester City proved last season that having two strikers on at the same time means you are always likely to score. As evidenced by the 200+ goals between the top two last season.
The real question is, who slots into the midfield? Steven Gerrard is a real linchpin in this Liverpool team and without him I think Liverpool lose a dimension to their game. He has to play when fit. The next certainty into the team is Jordan Henderson, the young England midfielder is a terrific talent and provides great energy into this Liverpool side. The final two places is where it begins to get complicated. At the moment Raheem Sterling has to be in the Liverpool first eleven, because he is in amazing form and is rapidly becoming a top class talent. He would slot in at the tip of the diamond.
It is that position on the left where it is complicated, and shows Liverpools mentality towards a match. Because Liverpool can go one of two ways, they can choose to play a balanced lineup with Allen or Emre Can slotting into the midfield, or they can go attacking by placing in Coutinho or Lallana. Either set of players will work extremely hard for the side but they offer something different when going forward. In general I would go with Lallana just because of his work rate. Lallana works just as hard as Jordan Henderson and that is something Liverpool will always look for.
The back four is also a cause for some debate as well. The main debate being Manquillo or Flanagan at right back. In my opinion you have to go with Manquillo because he offers more going forward. My centre backs would be Lovren and Skrtel, they both work very well together and will only get better with time. Finally Alberto Moreno will take his all but uncontested slot at left back to complete a very strong Liverpool first eleven.
So the eleven with everyone fully fit, looks like this:
Manquillo Skrtel Lovren Moreno
But with Daniel Sturridge absent for the weekend’s clash with Aston Villa, it remains to be seen whether Rickie Lambert or forgotten man Fabio Borini will get the nod in a diamond formation alongside Mario Balotelli? Or will Brendan revert back to a 4-3-3, with Phillipe Coutinho, Lazar Markovic or Adam Lallana fighting for that left wing position?
Would you stick with the diamond formation for Saturday’s game with Aston Villa? Let us know your thoughts below.