I'm not a manager and Brendan Rodgers and the rest of the Liverpool staff know far more than me on what formation and tactics we should be using, but as we search for the formation and line up that's suits the new look Liverpool squad it seems an ideal time to discuss the options.
Through the summer Liverpool lost their main attacking force from last season in Suarez and spent a large chunk of the money from his sale buying attacking midfielders Lallana and Markovic and with Sterling and Coutinho already on the books and Ibe enhancing his reputation over the summer months it looked like we would be playing one up front with three of the above behind the striker, the defence has been strengthened and Can added to the deeper sitting midfielders. We had some success with this 4-2-3-1 set up in pre-season and then a decent win in the first game of the season against Southampton using this and at times a 4-3-3, followed by a decent performance in a 3-1 defeat at Manchester City using similar formations.
it is easy to pick fault following a defeat, but, at times in both of the first two games Sturridge looked isolated and when we threatened we often failed to get enough players in to the box. Defensively, we failed to get enough players around Gerrard leaving him exposed in a position that is not natural to him, especially when Leiva was on the field giving us a lack of pace in the defensive area of midfield. Generally we played ok, but I think the formation didn't allow is to play with the speed and fluidity of last season with the main problem that Sturridge was the only target in front if our three creative players and he was forced to slightly change his game remaining central at least until Sterling had managed to get forward and support him slowing up our play when the speed of our attacks had been a major problem for our opponents last season.
Then Balotelli arrived and we had the so called problem of having to get him and Sturridge on to the field at the same time, the solution, the diamond, the formation that gave us so much of our success last season. Again easy to say after a 3-0 win away to Spurs, but this suits us far better. Sterling despite his age revels in the freedom and responsibility of the number 10 role, Coutinho is far better in the number 8 role and has three players in front of him who can benefit from his brilliant ability to find through balls, Gerrard gets the support he needs from the extra midfield players, and most importantly Sturridge gets the support he needs allowing him to find pockets of space and Balotelli to play the traditional number 9 role and with our two new full backs looking, at this early stage, ideal at filling in the wide positions this looks like an ideal formation for us.
The players missing from this ideal eleven also fill in naturally with Lambert in either of the front two positions, Markovic able to play in the number 10 role, Lallana in the number 10 or in the deeper midfield positions and Allen and Can in any of the deeper midfield roles we look ideal for cover and rotation.
Overall I think the ideal formation for us appears to be the 4-4-2 diamond. It gives us all the attacking options that made us such a force last season and if desired we can easily slip in to any of the other formations from this starting point with a limited number of personnel changes, the only problem I can see is we do have only three senior strikers, one more would be nice just in case of injuries. I hope the diamond is here to stay as I believe it will give us the attacking options to push for the title again, it was fun last year and I want more.