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How Premier League champions Liverpool got caught into their own off-side trap

Written by Mihir Vasavda
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October 6, 2020 3:17:55 am


Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, gestures after Aston Villa’s Ross Barkley scores his aspect’s fifth objective throughout the Premier League match. (AP Photograph)

Whereas nobody might have foreseen a 7-2 hammering for Liverpool by the hands of Aston Villa, a bigger development is rising of their defence leaking objectives by taking part in increased up the sector than typical.

Using a excessive defensive position is a standard technique utilized by a number of prime sides in world soccer. It is a model of play that sees a group push up when not in possession and shut down the areas for the opposition to assemble a transfer.

It requires a excessive diploma of technical talents as recreation consciousness for the group with possession to beat this high-press model.

The way it operates

In Liverpool’s case, when a group wins possession again from them, Jurgen Klopp’s aggressive gegenpress comes into play to get the ball again. Nevertheless, when the opposition group begins the play, Liverpool’s excessive defensive position begins working.

There are three layers. Within the first, the entrance three, assisted by a midfielder, shut down the opponents and choke their passing traces in order that they’ll prohibit the sport to a particular a part of the pitch, construct strain and drive errors.

For Liverpool, one of many influential gamers on this function is Sadio Mane, who’s relentless in his urgent recreation in comparison with the opposite two forwards, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah who’re much less aggressive. Final season, Liverpool forwards pressed their opponents on this a part of the sector greater than some other group within the Premier League.

If the opponents discover their method out of this press, the fullbacks and midfielders come into play, relying on the match state of affairs. Their job is to dam a by way of ball and put strain in a method that the ball is performed both backwards or sideways.

The controversial excessive line comes into focus when the second line of defence is breached. The defenders, in such a state of affairs, are as a rule positioned across the half-way line. The aim is to verify the ball stays within the opponent’s half and cut back the passing choices by laying an offside lure.

Final season, the Virgil van Dijk-led defence caught their opponents offside 141 occasions, greater than some other aspect within the league. If a participant manages to beat this lure as effectively, Liverpool are bailed out by goalkeeper Alisson, who typically performs so excessive up the pitch that he can move of as a centre again.

Reward and danger

The plain reward of this technique is you may have the opposition taking part in the way in which you need. They’re additionally susceptible to creating extra errors due to the incessant strain and because the ball is essentially within the opponent’s half, the probabilities of conceding a objective mechanically cut back.

However there’s a big danger should you don’t have the gamers to drag this technique off efficiently or encounter a group that figures out methods to bypass the excessive defensive position. Within the Champions League final season, Belgian aspect Genk posed questions for Van Dijk & Co. by continually lobbing balls over the midfield to get past the Liverpool back-line.

Leeds, on this season’s opening match, discovered methods to go previous the excessive line and scored three objectives and final week, Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette twice snuck previous the Liverpool defence to go one-on-one with Alisson.

On Sunday towards Aston Villa, Liverpool had been with out Mane, who’s contaminated with Covid-19, and an injured Alisson, which meant that on the entrance and on the again, they didn’t have their key males to execute this technique.

Conceding seven objectives to Aston Villa is freakish, extra a results of their pig-headedness to not resort to a extra conservative defensive technique, and limiting harm, after happening by three or 4 objectives. However the truth that they didn’t ditch their trademark model even in such a state of affairs exhibits that regardless of the talk round it, Liverpool are prone to keep on with their philosophy going ahead.

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