Jürgen Klopp’s Tactical Dilemma: A Closer Look at Liverpool’s Right-Side Struggles
In the high-stakes arena of the Premier League, Liverpool’s performance at the Emirates Stadium against Arsenal highlighted a critical tactical challenge that Jürgen Klopp has been hesitant to address. According to Andrew Beasley’s insightful analysis on Liverpool.com , Liverpool’s unfamiliar right side was a significant factor in their defeat, raising questions about Klopp’s team selection and strategic approach. This blog delves into the nuances of Klopp’s choices, the implications for Liverpool’s title aspirations, and the potential solution that has been overlooked for far too long.
Tactical Missteps at the Emirates
Liverpool’s encounter with Arsenal was a testament to the unpredictable nature of football, where a single error can tilt the scales. As Beasley notes, a miscommunication between Alisson Becker and Virgil van Dijk reminiscent of a past blunder against Fulham allowed Arsenal to capitalise and take the lead. However, the roots of Liverpool’s issues extended beyond this isolated incident, particularly to the right side of the pitch.
Klopp himself acknowledged the team’s struggle to gel, specifically pointing out the difficulties in establishing a cohesive right-sided triangle. This observation underscores a broader issue within Liverpool’s tactical setup, where the selection of Ryan Gravenberch and Cody Gakpo in unfamiliar roles contributed to the team’s disjointed performance.
The choice of personnel on Liverpool’s right flank has been a topic of debate among fans and analysts alike. With Gravenberch only making his fourth start for Liverpool on the right and Gakpo positioned in a relatively new role, the lack of familiarity and cohesion was palpable. Beasley’s critique of Klopp’s selection is pointed, questioning the rationale behind deploying Gakpo, a player with limited experience on the right wing, in a match of significant importance.
The statistics presented in the original article highlight Gakpo’s struggle to impact the game from this position, with a notable lack of shots and created chances. This performance is indicative of a larger trend in Gakpo’s tenure at Liverpool, where he has been utilised in various positions across the midfield and attack, arguably diluting his effectiveness.
Unlocking Gakpo’s Potential
The crux of the matter lies in the utilisation of Cody Gakpo, a player whose talents may be best harnessed on the left wing, a position where he excelled with PSV Eindhoven. Beasley’s analysis, supported by data from Transfermarkt, reveals a stark discrepancy in Gakpo’s productivity when playing on the left compared to other positions. Despite this, Klopp has seldom deployed Gakpo in his preferred role, a decision that has puzzled observers.
The imminent return of Mohamed Salah will likely alleviate the need to field Gakpo on the right, presenting an opportunity for Klopp to reevaluate his tactical approach. Leveraging Gakpo’s strengths on the left could be the key to revitalising Liverpool’s attacking dynamics and addressing the inconsistencies that have plagued their season.
Path Forward for Liverpool
As Liverpool navigate the challenges of a highly competitive Premier League season, the strategic dilemmas faced by Jürgen Klopp serve as a reminder of the delicate balance between tactical flexibility and optimising player strengths. The analysis provided by Andrew Beasley sheds light on a pivotal area for improvement, suggesting that a more consistent and considered approach to team selection, particularly regarding Cody Gakpo’s positioning, could unlock new dimensions in Liverpool’s play.
In a season filled with twists and turns, the decisions made on the training ground and in the dugout will be instrumental in shaping Liverpool’s fortunes. With the right adjustments, Klopp’s side has the potential to overcome their tactical hurdles and mount a formidable challenge for the title.