The midfield - What's the answer?

macca1970

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2018
Messages
302
Likes
472
Milner has been one of the better midfield performers this season. Having said that, I think he should be restricted to one game a week. This will enable him to have a good influence on the team by keeping fresh.

Fabinho has now had a few months to learn the basics of Klopp's expectations, so he should be performing full level in training to try to catch Klopp's eye.

We're going through an adjustment stage at the moment with the new found focus on defensive responsibilities, so this for me is expected. All this talk of wholesale changes is out of the question. We haven't turned into Hodgson mark 2 overnight, so we need to keep a little perspective. It's a challenge, but one that Klopp has solved many times over his career.
 

Abdel

Active Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2016
Messages
574
Likes
203
I think it's more about a lack of clear pattern in our play . of course quality and personels plays a huge role .but the only clear plan we have since Klopp has been to win the ball high up the pitch and score on the break .we never score a proper goal by building up from the back , triangle , One two etc...
 

Red over the water

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 13, 2018
Messages
704
Likes
1,219
I’m looking forward to Fabinho and Keita finding their level and becoming mainstays in the side. That’s a player with a lot of physicality, but also able to pass vertically, allied to a player with a great eye for a pass and the ability to dribble and go past people. When the pair of them get going the level of the side will improve.

In the meantime we’re digging in a bit more and have been much better in defence than last year, which is no bad thing when you consider the long season ahead and look at the points haul so far.
 

GermanRed

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2017
Messages
1,840
Likes
2,622
We are packed in midfield and maybe it's a good thing to have so many players available but i think rotation backfired at us in the last few weeks. I would even go so far to say that this rotation did cost Milner and Wijnaldum the great form they had at the start of the season.

Reasons for rotation are resting players, injuries (to Keita, Henderson, Milner), trying to fit in new signings (Keita and Fabinho) and trying to get Lallana back to match fitness.

And as if this Rotation isn't enough Klopp started to Change Formation at times to fit in Shaqiri.

It almost feels like there is no competition between the Players because the Manager is trying to Keep everyone happy.
 

Anfield rd Dreamer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 25, 2012
Messages
10,572
Likes
6,921
We are packed in midfield and maybe it's a good thing to have so many players available but i think rotation backfired at us in the last few weeks. I would even go so far to say that this rotation did cost Milner and Wijnaldum the great form they had at the start of the season.

Reasons for rotation are resting players, injuries (to Keita, Henderson, Milner), trying to fit in new signings (Keita and Fabinho) and trying to get Lallana back to match fitness.

And as if this Rotation isn't enough Klopp started to Change Formation at times to fit in Shaqiri.

It almost feels like there is no competition between the Players because the Manager is trying to Keep everyone happy.
I'd say you could possibly be right with Gini being rotated out of form but that's a harsh way of putting it on Klopp when Gini has always been capable of putting in anonymous performances. With Milner I think it's the total opposite and he's played too much recently.
 

Perth Red

TIA Youth Team
Joined
Aug 30, 2010
Messages
276
Likes
163
If Coutinho was still at the club I am sure we would all be more than happy with him playing behind Mane, Bobby and Mo. There wouldn't even be a discussion, I'm sure. It would be a front four and two holding midfielders. Based on that premise the obvious answer is to simply put Shaq in to the Coutinho role and carry on. Personally I think Shaq has all the tools for the role, maybe not at Coutinho's level but would certainly offer a shooting threat, add some much needed creativity and dynamism. He may not track back all the time but, hell, when you are 3-0 up at half time who cares? (Other than JK it seems!)
 

Limiescouse

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 26, 2014
Messages
11,734
Likes
15,587
Not only do we seem more creative with the 4-2-3-1 formation but more solid at the back.
Not sure why the Boss keeps reverting to the 4-3-3 system for the harder games. For me it looks like the opposition then feel more comfortable pushing higher on the midfield as they believe we don't have the ability to let the front three loose. I would stick with Fab and Gini with Shaq in front of them, leave Bobby as a striker and not a #10.
Compare the difference when Shaq came on against Cardiff, how he made us look in the first leg against Red Star... OK he's no Coutinho but he is creative, quick feet, dynamic. This is the key for me, and why Fekir would have been so useful and why we need someone of that mould.
The more I see of the Milner, Gini and Hendo combination the more I wonder how the hell we got to Kiev!
4231 puts too many players in front of the ball and makes it more difficult to press effectively. Notably we have really only used the 4231 in games where we expected to have a lot of the ball and so would be able to use the geggenpress to create our own opportunities far less often
 

Perth Red

TIA Youth Team
Joined
Aug 30, 2010
Messages
276
Likes
163
4231 puts too many players in front of the ball and makes it more difficult to press effectively. Notably we have really only used the 4231 in games where we expected to have a lot of the ball and so would be able to use the geggenpress to create our own opportunities far less often
There are few games where we expect to have less of the ball! Even with City it was close to 50/50. I think it enables us to close down the short passing from the back so our defence push higher for the inevitable hoof from the goalkeeper. Consolidates us in our front half more and we control the flow. As long as we have a creative player to open up spaces we then dominate. Sadly we only seem to have Shaq capable at the moment so lose a little bit of steel in the middle, but we'll worth it against 16 or 17 of the teams we will face in the PL this year!
 

nobluff

TIA Reserve Team
Joined
Oct 26, 2007
Messages
872
Likes
519
Well I have complained about this enough in the in match threads, so I might as well let my thoughts be known here.

Q: Why was the midfield issues not so evident last year?
A: Mo, Bobby, Mane

Q: What does the does the current midfield combination of Henderson, Milner and Wijnaldum remind me of?
A: 3 Jamie Redknapp's passing the ball, sideways, backwards, slightly forwards, and rarely forwards.
A2: A bland, sugarless, fiber filled breakfast cereal that helps with regular bowel movements, yet offers nothing else.

Q: What do I think of the midfield combination of Henderson, Milner and Wijnaldum?
A1: Very shit when it comes to supporting the attack on a consistent basis. One dimensional.
A2: Awesome when it comes to supporting the defense on a consistent basis.
A3: They are all excellent footballers, they are however quite predictable.

Q: What needs to be done?
A1: If you are going to stick with Henderson, Milner and Wijnaldum, then you need at minimum one of them passing and moving forward in order to offer an option for the player you have just passed to. This needs to happen on a consistent basis. If you play a defensive team, we need to have two of the midfielders doing this. The current midfield are way to static, hence the backwards and sideways passing, which pads the possession stats and in my opinion does little else, especially against a defensive team or teams that are leading.
A2: Keita does the above automatically, so play him. I haven't watched enough of Fabinho to know if this is a natural part of his game.
 

lfc.8

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 17, 2012
Messages
2,133
Likes
928
Midfield has been a concern for a number of seasons now and it's still not resolved. The club wanted Keita last season but it didn't quite happen. We have him now plus the introduction of Fabinho and Shaqiri. Keita and Fabinho haven't played that much at all. Still somewhat adjusting to the tactics and the team. Wait and see for the moment but we need to see their worth before seasons end.

Midfield collectively is the biggest weak point. We've played PSG and Chelsea twice, Spurs, Arsenal, City and Napoli all once. Eight games against the more bigger teams. Two wins, three draws and three losses. Far from convincing.

Further it's also been two transfer windows and we haven't replaced Coutinho. Clearly there was a view to improve the midfield but we're not quite seeing that at the moment. The front three are also suffering from the lack of control and creativity behind them. We need improvement in the players and some investment on top.
 

JustHitMyHead

TIA Reserve Team
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
1,906
Likes
730
Midfield has been a concern for a number of seasons now and it's still not resolved. The club wanted Keita last season but it didn't quite happen. We have him now plus the introduction of Fabinho and Shaqiri. Keita and Fabinho haven't played that much at all. Still somewhat adjusting to the tactics and the team. Wait and see for the moment but we need to see their worth before seasons end.

Midfield collectively is the biggest weak point. We've played PSG and Chelsea twice, Spurs, Arsenal, City and Napoli all once. Eight games against the more bigger teams. Two wins, three draws and three losses. Far from convincing.

Further it's also been two transfer windows and we haven't replaced Coutinho. Clearly there was a view to improve the midfield but we're not quite seeing that at the moment. The front three are also suffering from the lack of control and creativity behind them. We need improvement in the players and some investment on top.
It's a bit hard to justify too much additional investment on our midfield until we start to actually play the ones we bought. Maybe a No 10 or creative player can be justified because we missed out on one... but otherwise I think it is hard.

Keita, Fabinho and Shaqiri have been played far too little. Almost half way through the season, and they haven't been played enough for us to determine anything.
 

Foldy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 28, 2014
Messages
1,106
Likes
1,338
Far too much reliance on Milner, he's been brilliant for us but you can't expect the guy to be playing as many games as he does. He gives every game his all but load 2-3 games on him in a short space of time and you can see the fatigue in his game. We've spent almost 100 million quid on Keita and Fabinho, and apart from Keita being sidelined through injury Fabinho can't get a game. He's looked good in the games we have played him but the only way he's going to be truly prepared for the Prem is through game time, not being benched and worked on in training. I'm all for getting a no.10 in for January maybe that'll make the decision easier for who Klopp selects behind them.
 

Anfield rd Dreamer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 25, 2012
Messages
10,572
Likes
6,921
The more I think of the midfield chemistry and the roles the members need to perform the more I think, no matter how good he sometimes is personally, that Milner is a spanner in the works.

He's not suited to the 2 in a 4-2-3-1 and not attacking enough for the CAM role behind the 1. I'm starting to think this is our better formation at the moment but that might just be because we are getting the chemistry wrong in the midfield 3.

When we play 4-3-3 it works best when we have a deepest player, marauding around, being a nuisance to disrupt opposition build up play and quickly recycling the ball. Occasionally seeing the long, ambitious balls to release counter attacks too. The next role is a high-energy, fast paced box to box role. Someone who can build energy and momentum and use the ball in a creative but simple way to set the tempo whilst also mucking in with the dirty work defensively. Finally you have the most attacking number 8/number 10 hybrid who needs to do less of the deeper work but needs to put a slog in running round high up the pitch pressing them in the final third then using the ball with a little intricacy to create openings or storm through into the box on or off the ball causing mayhem.

That's the midfield 3 set up i think works best in my opinion and I don't see where Milner fits in anymore.

I think we've got better options in the deepest role or "6", Fabinho, Henderson and (when he turns up) Gini are all better options for that role. He can do the box to box role but I don't think he has the pace really required and drifts too far wide, probably because of years of playing wide. Keita needs to get settled into this role as it's his perfect role whilst I think Gini, Henderson, Fabinho, Ox (assuming he returns in good condition) and even Trent would all offer as good or better alternatives as Milner would. In the more attacking role Ox was perfect till he got injured and will hopefully continue where he left off when he returns. Milner could "do a job" and so can Keita but we really need to stop forcing round pegs in oblong holes here and get the right player in this role. May have to buy in Jan or Shaqiri can continue integrating into the team and seize it for himself. Lallana has lost whatever mojo he first showed in this role and I don't think it's coming back. Milner, Gini and Keita should only be used here in emergencies.

For now I think we need to stick with Shaqiri or use Firmino or, as a last resort, Lallana (but only if we have the right, in form, players in the other two roles). I'd maybe even consider giving Curtis Jones a run out if we were still in the league cup.

Yesterday we had an anonymous Gini in number 6. Milner not at the races physically and drifting too much in the box to box. Lallana unable to physically meet the demands of his role and offering limited service. With one of those issues we can cope. 2 we will struggle. All 3 we may as well play without a midfield, especially against good teams.

If we continue in a midfield 3 Milner should only be an emergency squad player, same with Lallana. Gini needs to stop going missing if he wants to play regularly. Fabinho and Keita need to fully integrate in as our first choices in the 6 and 8 roles that they seem perfect for. Henderson and Gini as their back ups. And we need Ox back so him and Shaqiri can solve the issues we are having linking midfield and attack.
Still having those same issues linking attack and midfield. Gini, Milner, Henderson, Fabinho and Keita should only be getting games in the deepest 2 midfield roles. Using 3 just creates a vacuum that our forward players have to drop deeper to try and fill and then there's nobody higher for them to link up with.
 
Joined
Nov 7, 2018
Messages
2
Likes
1
It's a bit hard to justify too much additional investment on our midfield until we start to actually play the ones we bought. Maybe a No 10 or creative player can be justified because we missed out on one... but otherwise I think it is hard.

Keita, Fabinho and Shaqiri have been played far too little. Almost half way through the season, and they haven't been played enough for us to determine anything.
Settling in time is over now, Klopp just has to give Fabinho & Keita a proper run out in games. Can't be much worse than what we've got now.
We seemed to have gotten all we're gonna get out of Gini and Henderson is just not a player that will ever push forward and break the lines. What happened to our 'heavy metal football'?
 

RedForever2014

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2014
Messages
3,444
Likes
3,063
It's ironic that the department with the most rotatable depth is the weak link. There are a few issues;

1. The quality of our midfielders isn't the same as the keeper, defence and forwards. Our keeper is top class, our main centre back is world class, our other first choice defenders are top quality, our first choice forwards are top quality. The midfielders are not the same level.
2. We don't have the link between midfield and attack that we had in Oxlade and Coutinho.
3. The three 'first choice' midfielders of Henderson, Milner and Gini don't work as a unit.
4. We play three forwards, as opposed to having a midfielder in the forward area (like Coutinho) who can come back and help.

Klopp's biggest problem is that he won't deal with Henderson.

Jordan is a nice lad, a good squad player, but he's not a captain and he's not a first choice player.

In short, we can rotate midfield, but none of the permutations is the level of the departments in front and behind.
 

Anfield rd Dreamer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 25, 2012
Messages
10,572
Likes
6,921
It's ironic that the department with the most rotatable depth is the weak link. There are a few issues;

1. The quality of our midfielders isn't the same as the keeper, defence and forwards. Our keeper is top class, our main centre back is world class, our other first choice defenders are top quality, our first choice forwards are top quality. The midfielders are not the same level.
2. We don't have the link between midfield and attack that we had in Oxlade and Coutinho.
3. The three 'first choice' midfielders of Henderson, Milner and Gini don't work as a unit.
4. We play three forwards, as opposed to having a midfielder in the forward area (like Coutinho) who can come back and help.

Klopp's biggest problem is that he won't deal with Henderson.

Jordan is a nice lad, a good squad player, but he's not a captain and he's not a first choice player.

In short, we can rotate midfield, but none of the permutations is the level of the departments in front and behind.
I'd argue slightly in that Fabinho as the 6 and Keita as the 8 with a good 8/10 hybrid in CAM (like how Ox was playing before injury) has the potential to be as good as it gets. For one reason or another Fabinho and Keita haven't had that extended run to cement themselves in those positions individually or as a partnership to work on their chemistry yet. I think by the end of the season they will have though and that area will be as good as anywhere. As back ups to those two Henderson and Wijnaldum are about as good as you could reasonably expect. Milner for me is the odd one out as he cant really fully do any of the 3 roles.
 

lfc.eddie

"¿Plata... O Plomo?"
Joined
Sep 18, 2006
Messages
49,982
Likes
37,106
I'd argue slightly in that Fabinho as the 6 and Keita as the 8 with a good 8/10 hybrid in CAM (like how Ox was playing before injury) has the potential to be as good as it gets.
Keita has yet to show me why he is being valued at £55m, if his ability is supposed to be linking up attack and midfield.
 

rupzzz

TIA Regular
Joined
Feb 26, 2011
Messages
6,658
Likes
5,484
Keita has yet to show me why he is being valued at £55m, if his ability is supposed to be linking up attack and midfield.
I've no doubt he will show that down the track. Can't imagine moving to a new country at 23 is easy, let alone when under a microscope like footballers. New language, weather, football style, currency, people etc.

Time is a wonderful thing - as it passes I expect him to show the value - even though I believe the cost of a player should not be important to us as fans - its the quality that's important - including the human qualities.
 

Anfield rd Dreamer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 25, 2012
Messages
10,572
Likes
6,921
Keita has yet to show me why he is being valued at £55m, if his ability is supposed to be linking up attack and midfield.
I think the problem so far has been that he's been used further forward. If we'd signed Fekir he'd have been the most offensive player, Fabinho the most defensive and Keita linking the two providing the pace, energy and dynamism to CM. Because he's our most creative CM though he's usually been used as our most attacking CM of 3. But he's not suited to that. He's just the most suited out of our current Cms. I think our midfield will look a hell of a lot better when Fabinho/Henderson plays the deepest role, Keita/Wijnaldum play the linking role and a new player/Shaqiri/Ox play the more attacking role.
 
Last edited:

Walshy07

In Klopp we trust
Joined
Jun 11, 2018
Messages
550
Likes
643
Yeah. Imagine if we still had him. We’d have probably got to the final of the European Cup, and be unbeaten in the league this season.
:-(
We might have won the CL if he played - was well chuffed when an unfit Lallana came on!
.....So swings and roundabouts.
I bet you hate players that take people on and create chances and prefer the nice sideways and backwards approach by the current 3!
 

nobluff

TIA Reserve Team
Joined
Oct 26, 2007
Messages
872
Likes
519
Keita has yet to show me why he is being valued at £55m, if his ability is supposed to be linking up attack and midfield.
I doubt he has shown anyone as he hasn't played enough. He was worth £55m or thereabouts while at Dortmund. He is certainly a player, if given an extended chance, will offer something different in midfield.
 

nobluff

TIA Reserve Team
Joined
Oct 26, 2007
Messages
872
Likes
519
I think the problem so far has been that he's been used further forward. If we'd signed Fekir he'd have been the most offensive player, Fabinho the most defensive and Keita linking the two providing the pace, energy and dynamism to CM. Because he's our most creative CM though he's usually been used as our most attacking CM of 3. But he's not suited to that. He's just the most suited out of our current Cms. I think our midfield will look a hell of a lot better when Fabinho/Henderson plays the deepest role, Fabinho/Wijnaldum play the linking role and a new player/Shaqiri/Ox play the more attacking role.
Might as well sell Keita then as you dont have space for him.
 

Nikola

Mediocre outcome is the probable outcome.
Admin
Joined
May 17, 2007
Messages
17,520
Likes
10,682
The more I see players like Verratti, Jorginho or Gundogan starting for European heavyweights, the more Henderson pales in comparison. There was a moment last night when Verratti's turn in the middle of a one-two in the central circle brought four Liverpool players out of the game. I honestly don't remember a Liverpool midfielder doing anything like that ever (though, in all honesty, it is something I'd associate with Italian or Spanish players). That kind of quick thinking, technical ability, execution... We don't see that from our midfielders these days, not for a while. And since the pressing game has eased off a bit, the point of a hard-working-but-not-that-talented midfield trio becomes lost.

Maybe the spotlight is unfairly directed towards Henderson because of his captaincy but it should not detract from the fact that he's lately been playing like someone without confidence in his own body and/or ability. I sometimes get the impression that he's more concerned about how his foot will connect with the ball than looking up, being aware of his teammates' positions and movement, directing them with his passes, setting any kind of tempo.

This Liverpool team has been lagging in that department for quite a while, possibly since Gerrard's 2013/14. That issue has probably been exacerbated this season because of PSG's and Napoli's relentless, aggressive pacy midfield selections but it was also exposed by Crvena Zvezda's, which truly set the alarm bells off. I'm aware that Klopp won't give up on Henderson and Milner - nor should he - but I won't have any problems with him getting the Lucas treatment. After all, he's a full English international, Liverpool's captain, only signed a long-term contract, so the value is there.

Also, Milner's legs seem to be going slowly. After being one of Liverpool's best players at the beginning of the season, he's now looking sluggish. Wijnaldum's form has also been inconsistent, whether through fatigue or Klopp's tactical choices. I'd keep him as a starter, though, but definitely with different partners in midfield. I'm aware that Klopp isn't someone looking to change much all of a sudden but either Keita or Fabinho need to be given more playing time in order to acclimatise to his tactics.

I'd definitely like to see more of that premium "continental" feeling in Liverpool's midfield, more agility, pace and ability on the ball, more dynamic approach, playing on the half-turn, looking left and right before every received pass... I'm afraid neither Henderson, nor Milner can offer that, Lallana's always injured and AOC is still recovering from a career-defining injury. Keita can definitely offer that, and Fabinho and Wijnaldum can up to a certain degree. I wouldn't be against either of the former two partnering "Wijnaldum plus one" until Klopp can integrate both of them.
 

nikz200

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2013
Messages
882
Likes
369
You can slowly begin to understand why Klopp has been low key tracking Ramsey and Rabiot to come in. I do think Keita will come good but we need more of a presence in midfield. Fakir and shaqiri on the pitch at the same time would have been great too though.....
 

seanyw

Hong Kong Reds
Joined
Jul 4, 2017
Messages
30
Likes
24
Agree that Fabinho + Keita + Shaqiri looks a lot more like the midfield line-up for a top side.

Gini and Milner are capable backups but Hendo looks like he's past it (though never looked really "peaked"...). Hope to see Ox back soon to add some firepower from midfield.

Still we need reinforcements. Will be thrilled to get Frenkie De Jong. Ndidi or Nathan Ake as defensive midfielder may also worth a try.
 

belldiouf

TIA New Signing
Joined
Jan 14, 2012
Messages
30
Likes
20
I actually have some real concerns about Keita and Fabinho. I am not talking about their lack of appearances or easing into the team. I am talking about playing styles and playing mentality.

Fabinho looks incredibly slow and ill suited to the premier league. He is tall and gangly and doesn't mind getting stuck in, but he is always slow to the ball, slow on the ball and slow to the challenge. Numerous times he has committed a foul after the opposition player has long skipped past him. These aren't traits you can really adjust to. You either have them or you don't. I am not for minute saying he isn't a quality player, he is excellent! His performance for Monaco were excellent, and he has done well for Brazil during the limited times I have seen him. I just don't think he is suited to the premier league.

Keita is a little harder to judge after a couple of injuries. But he seems incredibly timid and a little awe struck. He has been a complete passenger in every game for us and unable to be involved. I feel he has the best chance of the two with regards to being a huge success and mainstay of the side, but i've been unimpressed too date.

We desperately need some thrust and energy in the center of the park. Lallana is probably the only player we have who can provide that currently. But he needs a steady run of games to regather his match fitness. Unfortunately, we don't have the luxury of being able to carry him when nobody else in midfield is really stepping up.