Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has hinted that a 4-2-3-1 formation lacks balance, after implementing it for the first 45 minutes of the Reds win over Southampton.
Summer signing Xherdan Shaqiri started for the first time this season, alongside Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah while Roberto Firmino led the line for the Merseysiders.
The new formation, a departure from their customary 4-3-3, seemed to be working as the Reds raced into a 3-0 lead but Klopp raised a few eyebrows when he introduced James Milner for Shaqiri at half-time.
“It was not easy, to be honest. It’s my job to sometimes deliver news nobody wants to hear. That’s how it was at half-time but he is a fantastic boy. I explained it to him so it’s no problem. Usually I don’t explain substitutions at half-time but I thought it made sense,” Klopp explained to his post-match presser at Anfield.
Shaqiri was a bright figure in the opening 45 minutes and it was his cross that forced the opener in the 10th minute itself.
“It’s just good to have him; the free-kick was outstanding. That’s good. The whole team was not used to what we did today.”
“As a new player, usually you struggle most but he didn’t – he tried everything. The only problem was defensively. Offensively, it was a good idea but, how I said, we have to work on that more often. But he was good and I liked it.”
Considering Liverpool were cruising at half-time, Klopp had the luxury of tinkering ahead of the second-half, but the German revealed he would have made the change even if the margin had been closer.
“That’s true but we would have done the same with 2-0, to be honest. That was the plan. We saw that we had a few problems. In the week you could see Gini Wijnaldum, good game but really hard now; Hendo’s (Jordan Henderson) second game in a row; Millie came on and I don’t think if you ask him that it felt like spring or something.”
“It was hard work for him as well. Making six or seven changes today was never an option, we had to go through that game. That’s why I said it is the most important game.”
Liverpool now have a double header against Chelsea to worry about, with the midweek tie a Carabao Cup clash while the one on the weekend is a Premier League fixture.
“A few weeks ago you all told me there were very tough weeks and nobody thought about Southampton – that made the game a real challenge, apart from the quality of Southampton anyway.”
“So, it’s a good sign that the team gave today again, scoring three, making set-pieces a proper threat is cool because they always help and defensively it was just good. All three centre-halves played fantastically, both full-backs played really well. All the others had to work really hard. I think it was another deserved three points,” Klopp added.