Sturridge, Coutinho and Firmino - It can't come soon enough
It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster season for Liverpool fans already and we’re only just in January. From the lows of seeing a Brendan Rodgers Liverpool side humbled at home to West Ham to the highs of Jurgen Klopp’s Redmen thumping Manchester City 4-1 at the Etihad we’re now finding some middle grounding. Excitement about taking a 1-0 lead in a semi-final back to Anfield but despair at the contagious hamstringitis bug that’s currently struck down about 76 of our players.
Depending on the type of person you are will impact how you view the season so far. If you have a positive outlook on life you’d probabaly be slightly disappointed with the league position but you’d cut Jurgen some slack as he came in at an awkward time and hasn’t had chance to stamp his authority on the team yet. You’ll look at the fact Liverpool are in a good position going into the second leg for a semi-final and how they managed to get out of what turned out to be a tricky Europa League group in the end.
The glass half empty types may view this season as disappointing. The Reds made hard work of an easy looking Europa League group. The squad Brendan Rodgers left isn’t up to the standards you’d expect after spending so much money and Jurgen Klopp has taken on an even bigger job than originally thought. The Leagues in such a state yet Liverpool seemingly aren’t able to compete due to their inconsistent performances.
Civil war on twitter is a daily occurrence and a united fan base quickly becoming a myth but there is one reason, well three if we’re being pedantic, that the whole fan base should be excited about. Kind of.
Despite Liverpool playing 30 games in all competitions this season we’re still yet to see Daniel Sturridge, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho take to the field at the same time. Zero minutes together in the close to 2800 minutes we’ve played. Resist the urge to look at this negatively for a moment. Liverpool are just the six points off Spurs in 4th. They’re into a semi-final of the Capital one cup. They’re into the last 32 of the Europa League. All this without actually being able to field arguably their three *best* players simultaneously. If not the best players then they’re certainly the three players you’d expect t produce some magic on the pitch.
Imagine Manchester City not being able to field Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva and Sergio Aguero together in any of their games so far this season. Arsenal without Mesut Ozil, Oliver Giroud and Alexis Sanchez. No matter how good the other two players are the attack wouldn’t be as effective without all three.
Liverpool fans have had glimpses of what might be. Coutinho assisting Sturridge in the 3-2 win against Aston Villa. Firmino and Coutinho running riot against both Manchester City and Chelsea. Sturridge, alongside Adam Lallana and Divock Origi, showing all the doubters just exactly what he brings to the team with two assassin like finishes against Southampton.
These three players could be the perfect storm. An ideal blend of creativity and efficiency. Pace and power. Flair and work rate. Firmino could be a Suarez lite and normal service would resume for Liverpool.
The Line up.
Since joining Klopp has favoured this 4321 system. It gives the midfield extra security by having a third body in there but then at the same time we’ve been set up so the right centre-midfielder has been used as a right-midfielder almost. James Milner was used their originally and was often there to not only double up with Clyne but to also offer the width down that right hand side.
Likewise on the left hand side of midfield Emre Can has been acting as a defensive midfielder for Moreno at times. He protected the full-back which hid his weaknesses and he’s been able to flourish offensively. It’s effectively three defensive midfielders with Lucas shielding the two centre-backs.
The front three would almost end up being a 1-2 with Coutinho dropping deep to be the creator, the one that knits the play together whilst Firmino would be the support for Sturridge. The player to take up the space if Sturridge drifts and the one who ends up being the second goalscorer on the pitch.
(Excuse the many yellow lines, It’s one of the negatives of having such a fluid and flexible team.)
In attack it would look something like this. As was mentioned earlier it has similarities to the diamond that served Liverpool so well in the 13/14 season. Coutinho a little deeper, Firmino doing the leg work that Suarez used to do and Sturridge creating space for the other two with just his presence on the pitch.
The full-backs would be expected to offer the width and the ones to stretch the pitch so to free up the space centrally. Clyne has showed many times this season he likes to cut infield so Jordan Henderson would be expected to fill in out wide if that happens. You’d expect Emre Can to get further forward when Liverool attack down the right, almost finishing up higher than Philippe Coutinho. On the other side Moreno gets free rein doing what he does best; attacking the opposition full-back by being very direct and getting the ball into the area. This time you’d expect Jordan Henderson to be making a late run into the area to support the play.
There’d be movement in the penalty area which we don’t currently see due to Christian Benteke favouring to peel to the back post and wait for the cross or dropping to the edge of the area and hoping for a pull back. With Sturridge you’ve got a player that comes alive in the penalty area which would create space for the likes of Emre Can, Firmino and Henderson.
I’m excited to see this XI in action. With the league so poor it’s the sort of side that could obliterate teams in the first half and then sit back in the second half and pick them off on the counter attack.