Liverpool V QPR | Tactical Review

Liverpool V QPR | Tactical Review

Liverpool lined up in a 4-2-3-1, not unfamiliar this season. However the way they lined up their personnel was unfamiliar. Stewart Downing was asked to fill in just behind Suarez while Gerrard was shuttled out to the right attacking slot. All though as the game wore on he tended to drift all across the front zone. Kuyt was also asked to perform an unfamiliar role to operate on the left tucked in forward position, however, he also roamed across the park.

How Liverpool Lined Up

LFC Average Positions

If you take a look at the average positions of the front players you will see they all pretty much spent most of their time in the centre. It’s worth noting that at half-time Charlie Adam was replaced by Henderson which influenced Gerrard’s overall average position as he was asked to move back into a more central midfield role to take up where Adam had left off. Spearing (no. 20) operated as the holding defensive midfielder and it should have been his job to protect the zone in front of the back four. Jaime Carragher started the game at centre back, however, with Martin Kelly getting injured and being substituted in the 34th minute Carragher was moved over to the right back position where he has deputized before. With Coates coming on for Kelly, Coates then took up his normal place at centre back.

The attacking part of the formation seemed to work with the front three all combining well and inter-changing positions and passes with regularity. Liverpool seemed to have about 400 corners in the first 20 minutes. Liverpool also had 19 shots in the game, our average before the game was 16.9 per game. And we created 14 chances, which preceding this game our average was 12.5 chances created per game. Our final third passing accuracy was 73.21% and we have only bettered that in 4 other games this season. Preceding the game we averaged 397 accurate passes per game – again we bettered that against QPR completing a total of 446 passes. So all in all the stats show we performed well in an attacking sense, compared to our averages in our other games this season. So how did we lose the game?

Next Page: Tactical analysis on the next page….

Henderson Loses His Man

When you analyse the 3 goals we conceded due to a mixture of poor positional sense and individual errors. The first goal conceded from Shaun Derry was a standard corner Liverpool tried to defend. As you can see, Jaime Carragher is circled in red, he was originally marking Cisse (behind Carragher) before the corner was taken. However, as the ball came in Carragher noticed that Henderson had let his man run of him so Carragher tried to come across and cover. You can see the white line between Derry and Henderson, that yard of space Derry found was vital in him scoring the goal. In the end Henderson was stuck on his heels and didn’t even jump with Derry. Carragher was the player who actually ended up battling for the ball. I think it’s safe to say Henderson was at fault for the first goal for losing his marker at the corner.

The second and equalizing goal by Cisse is a little more complicated. In the first phase of QPR’s attacking play down the left, we can notice a few things about LFC player’s positions. From the still attached at first glance maybe it doesn’t look like there’s much wrong. Jay Spearing is circled in red, and as a defensive midfielder do you really want to be leaving that much space in between the (blue) lines for attacking players to run into?

Cisse Goal - Phase One

Also as the play develops it becomes clear that Spearing is too far forward to have any influence over the concession of the goal. Coates is marking Zamora (yellow box) and the ball (white line) is about to be played into the space in front of him.

As the ball is played into space then the danger becomes more apparent. Spearing again is marked in the red circle (phase two screenshot). If his original position in the first still was 5 yards back in between the lines then in this phase of the play he would be in a great position to cover in behind Coates.

Cisse Goal - Phase Two

Zamora now has the ball and if he turns Coates he has a free shot on goal. What happens is Carragher, circled in green (phase two screenshot), spots the danger and comes across (red arrow) to cover in behind Coates. This leaves space for Zamora to lay the ball off (yellow arrow) to Taiwo to get a decent cross in the box. Carragher does the right thing, he spots the danger and comes across, however, if Jay Spearing is in the correct position in the first place then Carragher does’t have to come out of position.

Continued on next page…

Cisse Goal - Phase Three

In the third phase before the goal, notice again Spearing’s position circled in red.

He is now in the position he should have been, covering behind Coates however too late to influence the play. The ball is crossed from Taiwo (yellow) and Cisse out-jumps Skrtel to score the equalizer. Skrtel’s position (white line) is good here however as the ball comes in Cisse takes a step back and gains that yard of space needed and powers the header into the net. All though Skrtel could have done better you sometimes have to give credit to the striker and it was a terrific leap and finish by Cisse.

Lastly the winning goal by QPR is a worse catalogue of errors from Liverpool players. The goal originates from a long kick up field by the QPR goalkeeper Paddy Kenny. Skrtel is competing for the header with Zamora circled in red. Both Coates (white) and Enrique (blue) do the correct thing by retreating a couple of yards to cover in behind him. There is also an argument to say Gerrard (green) and Spearing (yellow), either one should be a couple of yards back to fill in that zone in front of the back four. Again it’s left to Skrtel to step up and as a result as the play develops he leaves space in behind for Mackie (the eventual goalscorer) to run into.

Mackie Goal - Phase One

So here in the last phase of play (phase two screenshot below) before Mackie scores we can see a couple of mistakes by Liverpool players. Again are one of Gerrard or Spearing too far forward? Maybe I’m being a bit harsh on them. Both Enrique (blue) and Coates are in decent positions to cover for the out of position Skrtel. Enrique has done particularly well to come across and cover the space behind Skrtel. Skrtel circled in red competes with Zamora from the returning header from Luke Young, however, for some reason Skrtel ducks and lets the ball run through to Enrique.

Mackie Goal - Phase Two

One can only assume he got a call from Enrique to leave it. However, Enrique horribly mis-judges the ball and tries to make a clearance with his un-favoured right foot, misses the ball and Mackie runs through to score the winner. A real series of errors from Liverpool players and schoolboy defending to say the least.

Some might say I am being a bit harsh on Jay Spearing, however, I believe he is a really good player, he has great battling qualities and can man-mark an opposing player out of the game. Having said that he really needs to work on his positional sense. Especially as a defensive midfielder. Ask yourself one question, would Lucas Leiva have taken up those positions in Spearing’s place? Maybe with more games under Spearing’s belt he will develop a better awareness of the space around him.