Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp may have four-player plan to solve Virgil van Dijk woes

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp might be tempted to continue playing four attackers in a tactical switch to help cope with the absence of Virgil van Dijk, according to Stephen Warnock. Van Dijk will likely miss the rest of the Premier League season through an ACL injury.

Liverpool face West Ham tomorrow in their second Premier League game without Van Dijk.

The Dutch centre-back underwent surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament, but the club has refused to put a timescale on his return.

It is expected that he will miss the rest of the season, having been left out of the 25-man squad for the Premier League.

Liverpool’s style of play allows full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson to push further forward, sometimes at the risk of leaving Van Dijk and his partner Joe Gomez alone at the back.

JUST IN: England World Cup winner and Man Utd legend Nobby Stiles dies aged 78 after long illness

The two defenders have the pace and ability to be left on their own to deal with any counter-attacks, with both quick enough to deal with most forwards in the league.

However, with Van Dijk out for the foreseeable future, Klopp may be forced to change things around slightly to avoid his centre-backs getting overrun.

Against Sheffield United last week, the German boss changed formation from his usual 4-3-3 to allow for four attackers in the side.

Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah all played in a four-man attack as Liverpool lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer warned two players might be ‘frustrated’ after decision
Man Utd critics told why Donny van de Beek is ‘a good signing’ in Bruno Fernandes claim
Arsenal warned over ‘concerning’ Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sign ahead of Man Utd tie

That system allowed for more width in the attack without having to involve the full-backs, therefore the centre-backs weren’t left on their own.

And Warnock believes Klopp could continue to use that style in the absence of Van Dijk, Fabinho and Joel Matip – who are all carrying knocks.

Speaking to Express Sport, he explained that having his players press higher up the pitch in increased numbers would mean fewer balls go over the top over to the defence, therefore easing the burden on the centre-backs.

“I mean, I’m not in a position to tell Jurgen Klopp what to do!” Warnock joked. “What you might see is more intensity in pressing from higher up [on the pitch].

Get NOW TV’s Sky Sports season pass now and save 25 per cent

“I think that might be a reason why he thought the change of formation might be better at the moment to have four players up the pitch closing down, stopping the ball getting to the defence as quickly, putting [the defence] under less pressure so there’s less moments to defend.

“When you have the high pressing three and the three in midfield, you’ve seen over the last couple of years how Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk can often be left in a two-vs-two situation and they’re more than confident of being left in that situation.

“Will Jurgen Klopp feel that his defence can be left in that situation at the moment? Perhaps not.

“If Rhys Williams is playing then maybe you need more protection for him, you don’t want to leave him vulnerable.

“Possibly he could revert to playing Jordan Henderson there, we saw him play there in the Club World Cup last year.

“If Thiago is back fit, Jurgen Klopp would like to keep an experienced team out there.

“That’s not being disrespectful to Rhys Williams, he’s a young player and stepping into a team which is trying to retain the Premier League. The high standards are very difficult to keep up with and he needs time to develop.”

Williams, 19, has been filling in at the back for Van Dijk and Fabinho, and could be involved against West Ham tomorrow.

But Warnock urged Liverpool fans to help ease the pressure on the youngster, and warned against placing expectations too lofty on his shoulders.

He continued: “We can’t just turn round and say ‘is he [Williams] the next Virgil van Dijk? Can he step into Virgil van Dijk’s shoes?’ Absolutely not at the moment. Can he in years to come? Yes he could grow into a fantastic footballer.

“But he’s young, he’s going to make mistakes, and it’s trying to protect him before his career takes off.”

Stephen Warnock spoke to Express Sport at the launch of 7 Elite Academy’s partnership with Coaching Connexions, which will give players from across the world the opportunity to study and train in Liverpool. For more information visit

This article contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission on any sales of products or services we write about. This article was written completely independently, see more details here

Source: Read Full Article