A Tactical Look at Moreno’s Performance Against Arsenal

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After the humbling of Barcelona last weekend many Liverpool fans thought the Reds would fly out of the traps against a weakened Arsenal side. What fans witnessed in those opening 45 minutes was the complete opposite. A dozy opening 45 minutes saw Arsenal mount attack after attack and look destined to take a 1-0 lead into the half-time break. Then Philippe Coutinho happened.  The Coutinho free-kick was the fright Liverpool desperately needed. It was the bucket of cold water being poured over a sunbather.

A Tactical Look at Moreno's Performance Against Arsenal

The shock to the system saw Liverpool fly out of the traps in the second half, score three quick fire, unanswered goals. And it could’ve been much more. Arsenal couldn’t cope with the the fluidity, the movement and the decisiveness of the attack. The victory was deserved for those 20 minutes alone.

You’d assume after such a whirlwind match that fans would be on a high. You’d be mistaken. Scanning social media on Sunday evening every other Tweet mentioned one player. No it wasn’t Philippe Coutinho after his brilliance. It was Alberto Moreno.

The full-back has a bullseye on his back after many, many brain farts. But the agenda against the Liverpool n0.18 is escalating at an alarming rate. The Spaniard could hold the door open for an elderly lady and some fans would still find a reason to criticise. He can’t do right for doing wrong.

Firstly, let’s address the penalty decision. He does touch the ball but the follow through probably warrants the penalty decision. If that’s any other player the majority of the fan base would say he was unfortunate to have the penalty awarded against him but because it’s Moreno he’s rash and brainless. They cite his earlier tackle on Ramsey in the area as evidence for his rashness, you know when he slid in and cleanly won the ball?

Next up is the Arsenal opener. This has been widely debated online. Some fans think Moreno is completely out of possession whereas others think the problem lies with the players behind Moreno not covering him. My take is Moreno has been unfairly blamed for the opener and here’s why.

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 17.45.51 Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 17.46.19

The screenshots above show the lead-up to the opener. Liverpool reclaim the ball in midfield as Phil Coutinho, the left attacker popping up in central midfield, plays the ball to Adam Lallana. Before Moreno makes a move forward he looks around, possibly seeing if Liverpool had enough players back for him to push on down the left because at that moment in time Liverpool have nothing down that flank.

Wijnaldum, the man playing on the left of the midfield three, is tucked inside of Moreno which gives Liverpool five players to cover the four Arsenal players. Clyne on Iwobi, Lovren on Sanchez, Henderson looking at Ramsey and Klavan keeping tabs on Walcott. Instead of managing the situation Liverpool just become a shambles in defence.

Clyne is caught on his heels, Lovren squares up Iwobi from a whole 10 yards away and completely ignores Sanchez, Henderson tries to play Sanchez offside and Klavan has to cover Ramsey which then leaves Walcott completely free. Wijnaldum pushes into midfield to counter too, much like the Liverpool midfielder did against Barcelona and vacating the area he had.

As soon as Coutinho completes the pass to Lallana Liverpool are in an attacking transition. Klopp’s counter attacking game relies on taking these sorts of risks.

It’s down Clyne’s side so he’s going to be slightly withdrawn to be there as a passing option. Moreno is tasked with offering the width down the left and to open up the play centrally. If Lallana manages to avoid the tackle and plays the ball to Coutinho then Moreno, supporting the play down the left, will open play up for Coutinho. It’s his job to do that and he can’t be criticised for it.

It’s a Jurgen Klopp tactic. It’s not guesswork. In the narrow Liverpool side the width comes from the full-backs and it’s been highlighted in many pre-season games as well as the match against Arsenal. 

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 16.26.29 Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 16.26.57

In the two stills above it’s a similar scenario to the Arsenal opener but it’s been flipped. Liverpool are lucky to retain possession as Lallana’s pass bounces off Wijnaldum but Elney is unable to capitalise. Despite the ball not being properly under control you see Clyne making his way forward and into space. This time, because the play is on his side, Moreno holds his position. Liverpool have an overload of players down their left but nothing down the right as Mane has followed the play in field.

It’s all hypothetical but say Elneny does win the ball and looks to play the ball in behind Lovren and into the space Clyne has vacated, Lovren isn’t going to match Sanchez for pace and he’d be in on goal. Would people criticise Clyne for being presumptuous and pushing forward?

No Full-backs

No Full-backs1

Another two stills. This time Liverpool look to build out from the back and play through the Arsenal press. In the first screenshot you can’t even see both full-backs despite Arsenal positioning their players well to cut the passes off. It’s only when Liverpool go long that the full-backs can be seen, both making their way back towards their own goal. Why aren’t fans going mad about the high full-backs in this instance when Arsenal are pressing so highly?  Are both Clyne and Moreno ‘out of position‘ or are they in fact where they should be?

Lallana goal3

The screenshot above is after Liverpool lost possession down their right and Arsenal quickly switch the play to Aaron Ramsey, who is on the ball in the picture, who then looks to play Oxlade Chamberlain in down the Arsenal left with Clyne way out of position. Fortunately for the Reds the pass is under hit and Lovren is able to clear the ball away. Had that been down Moreno’s side, Sky would’ve flagged it up no doubt.

Moreno’s Involvement in Lallana’s goal

Lallana goal Lallana goal1 Lallana goal2

You often hear the Moreno detractors state he does nothing offensively and that it’s all a myth. Yet in the series of screenshots above, taken just prior to the Lallana goal, you see just why Moreno’s presence in the final third helps open up space for the likes of Firmino, Coutinho and Wijnaldum, who all combine to create the Lallana goal.

In the first screenshot you can see Moreno, in the orange boots, position himself between Bellerin and Chambers. He then makes a dart to the left into the blindspot of Bellerin and Chambers is forced to follow before having to quickly readjust because Coutinho has made a move into not only the space between midfield and defence but the space that’s appeared between Holding and Chambers.

Firmino then picks the ball up and Moreno takes up a position hugging the left touchline and Bellerin follows. Wijnaldum then has the run, the momentum on the full-back and makes his way into the space that Bellerin going to Moreno and Chambers following Coutinho has created. Wijnaldum then casually cuts back onto his favoured right foot and picks out Lallana to put Liverpool 2-1 up.

There’s no mistaking that Moreno is partial to a brain fart but this witch hunt is getting beyond a joke. Sky mentioned nothing about Clyne allowing Oxlade-Chamberlain to cut inside onto his favoured right foot inside of the penalty area before firing home. It was Clyne who gave away the needless free-kick which lead to the Arsenal third goal. Coquelin was going nowhere yet Clyne blocked him off and allowed Arsenal a free cross into the penalty area. Some might even say rash and brainless?

This isn’t tit-for-tat but had Moreno done anything similar to that it would be the end of the world and people would be baying for his blood. Balance and a little common sense is needed. He’s not always out of position, a lot of the time is a consequence of the tactics used by the manager. He’s by no means the perfect left-back but he isn’t as bad as many make out. The full-back role is important to Klopp and if he didn’t see anything in Moreno he would’ve been first out of the door this summer.

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  1. Maybe some fans are going a bit ott about Moreno but there is no doubt he has so many flaws in his game he is not good enough for a top 4, or even a top 6 side.I wont go into all of his problems again, everyone has seen them and heard it by now.Milner is a far better all round footballer, can tackle with either foot and because he is two footed has a far greater passing range and consequently is better at getting himself and the team out of trouble. Also, with his experience, he reads the game better and therefore his positional play is better.O.K. a specialised LB would be preferential but Milner should be pretty sound.

    • Sam McGuire maybe has a hard on for Moreno, 90% of the fans want him out and he was bought as a left back not a winger who cannot crossa ball if his live depended on it. Having pace is not a free pass for headless chicken actions. It is bad enough that LFC has not addressed the issue of defence and conceded 50 goals when we finished second. Someone (Captain) should be telling MORENO about his position, so writing articles assuming he is still learning is insulting the common sense of the reader

    • Agree.
      Maybe Sam McGuire could ‘analyze’ just how Moreno has improved over the two years spent at LFC. Because I for one don’t see much if any improvement.
      I see a serial offender, who fails to learn, and will end up sabotaging the teams best efforts this season.

  2. The media has got a witch hunt out on Moreno at the moment and will dissect ever little error he makes and ignore mistakes made by other players. Moreno isn’t perfect but it’s about time the fans and media got off his back. If he was the ‘worst defender ever’ as some claim then Klopp wouldn’t have him in the team. It didn’t take him long to ship Skrtel out for his errors.

    Klopp played with 4 defenders and 6 attacking midfielders. We didn’t have a holding/defensive midfielder. (Please don’t class Henderson as a holding midfielder, I’m not sure what he actually is but he’s not a holding midfielder). We could have done with somebody like Can or Lucas in to balance the play a little and give support to the defence when needed.

    Klopps tactics, while great to watch, do tend to leave us open at the back for counter attacks. I’m sure his tactics will be tweaked as the season goes on but, until then, enjoy the roller coaster ride.

    • A ‘roller coaster ride’ will not give us a shot at winning the title this season. For that we need consistency, and with Moreno in defense, we will not have the consistency to do so.

      If Klopp can’t address the leaky goals this season, there just won’t be any realistic chance of a title shot. Its that simple.

      We will again fall short like seasons past, where a poor defense has sabotaged the teams best efforts.
      I don’t want that to happen again… address the problem and give us a fighting chance.

    • I agree but maybe the leaky defence is due as much to tactics as to the personnel. Tweak the tactics and maybe that will make a difference.

  3. Right . I was never against the moreno . He does good things too. We should accept that the style of play we are having concedes some goals , we should be able to score more.

  4. Jurgen must see something in Moreno that eludes most other people. Moreno makes the same mistakes time after time. Much of Moreno’s decision making is dreadful. It appears that his biggest problem is that he is simply stupid. His temperament is also poor, the bigger the occasion the bigger his mistake is likely to be. How long do you percivere with him? How many more important games must he lose for LFC before he is sent packing? It isn’t like he is just going through a bad spell is it? He has been dreadful in defense from day one. We all live Klopp and have big hopes for the swashbuckling brand of football to LFC, however, Moreno keeping his place in the team doesn’t make any sense on any level. He is quite simply dangerous to our future prospects. The sooner he goes the better. Moron’eo out now.

  5. Why are we blaming Moreno? This guy has given 100% to the good cause for LFC. This was how we lost suares then after we realised that no one player makes 11 on the pitch. I would like to know if we have another left side defender to replace him please let me know whom the player is.I was at Arsenal game yes he made one error of judgement which led to the penalty but the penalty was safe.And after that he was the player who contributed a lot to all the LFC goals. People should give him a chance and lets see what we got. A Bird in hand is better than millions in the damn BUSHES.

    • The giving 100% part should be a given. If you are being payed to play for the club you should always give 100%. As far as the penalty, just because it was saved doesn’t mean it wasn’t his fault. If it hadn’t been saved we wouldn’t have won. And he didn’t have a hand in any of our goals except maybe the one that we had like 30 passes with before scoring. Last thing, you say to give him a chance. We gave him 2 years, isn’t that enough?

    • Arsenal first goal was cause by Falana no one talk about that and their other two goals wasn’t through Moreno so what’s you winging about. Jacob can do better? Yes every one of the players got paid he wasn’t exempted, So please Jump off your wagon and diverted your twat comment some where else. I believe that you are not LFC supporter and certainly you are not the Manager.People like you would cost LFC down fall if loose him. LFC and most of the Premiership Clubs has’n got any left side defender.

    • Jacob you are not LFC supporter so please cut your half baked comments. Can you tell me whom LFC will replace Moreno with? This is Football not Kareoke dance.

  6. interresting this! i reckon that the lad is highly underappreciated by some. i was part of the people who blamed him after that game for sure because all pundits,medias made a fixation on him.i don’t agree with most of them but it’s normal that every ‘Moreno error’ is so debated because of his bad record,but if Jürgen counts on him,that’ll do for me.

  7. Moreno made errors; i agree but Arsenal’s 2nd and 3rd goal occurred under Clyne’s watch, lets not be too critical over Moreno.

  8. We don’t criticize Clyne as much because he’s usually solid. Not because of “Agendas”. Moreno makes mistakes way too often that’s why we get mad whenever he makes one, and we don’t when Clyne does.
    Besides, Moreno is just a poor defender. His only defending quality is tackling. He gets dribbled past too easily. No idea why you chose to ignore that and focused on this positioning incident.

  9. Sorry, but this was really an article with clear misinterpretations.

    First, I agree that Moreno has been a victim of too much criticism. But the first half against Arsenal was really terrible.

    Morenos biggest problem in this match was his lack of making the correct choices. He was pushing too often in stead of backing. He was also to eager to narrow the field, going to close to Klavan in the wrong situations.

    So, to the concrete situations mention in the article. First, the good stuff. I agree, nice manouver of Moreno at our second goal. But otherwise I disagree witch the writer of this article.

    The penalty situation. How on earth can you be so naiv not to analyze that one as a really big big mistake. Totally stupid. Why tackle at all? A player on his way out of dangerous area. Its totally crap defence. And of course it was a clear penalty, an obvious one, and your writing actually shows that your knowledge about the rules is far out. There is two situations, not one. First – Moreno is touching the ball. But only slightly, som then a second situation arise. Walcott can reach the ball easily, but get clipped by Moreno. Clear penalty. A touch on the ball is not an “evidence” for the opposite. Far from it.

    So the Arsenal goal. We are not controlling the ball in that situation. Coutinho was forced to play Lallana, who was without any option of passing the ball further. He was in a one-to-one- situatio with Coquelin, one of the best tacklers in the league. Of course he could loose the ball. Yes, he could do better, bet loosing it close to our danger area was absolutely an option a left back had to consider. And Moreno didnt. He took the counterrun too soon. This was not a situation where he should attack. He should have controlled his area. Yes, also Lallana ond Klavan should be criticised for that episode, but stil, Moreno calculated wrong. Again.

    • I can not agree with you about you rambling on the Match that we’ve already WON. What if we have lost the match/ are we going to chase Moreno out Anfield I don’t think so. Our Manager has to instill into the players how to kill a game OFF, it happened to us at europa cup final and the final with Man City. Moreno alone can not make eleven players period!


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