Given Liverpool’s transfer business over the summer, and especially in the defensive area, you would think that Brendan Rodgers has a plan to tinker with a conventional back four.
Having acquired Kolo Toure, Mamadou Sakho and Tigao Ilori to join fellow centre-halves Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger at the club, there's the opinion that Rodgers could deploy a system where Liverpool play with a back three.
At full strength, one would imagine Liverpool would play Enrique and Johnson as wing-backs, with a midfield three, and two further up.
The selection question, though, won't be those at the back - it will be with those further up the field. Who do you leave out ?
If Liverpool were to play 3-5-2, Suarez and Sturridge would be the natural first choice pairing to spearhead the attack, and it seem difficult to justify dropping any one of Lucas, Gerrard or Coutinho.
So, will Liverpool line up like this ?
Toure, Sakho, Agger
Johnson, Lucas, Gerrard, Enrique
That would leave Liverpool of a potential bench of: Jones, Henderson, Aspas, Skrtel, Sterling, Kelly, Moses.
This system, which would pack the midfield and still allow for two players to operate at the top end of the field, would give Liverpool plenty of width. The style of play wouldn’t change a great deal, and the system seems to spell control, asserting authority.
Liverpool, of course, are no strangers to playing a back three. When Kenny Dalglish returned to the club, he adopted a back three in his early games. Rodgers also adopted a back three at half time in last season’s Merseyside derby at Goodison, when it seemed as if Everton were getting a firmer grip on the game. Chances were harder for Everton to come by after the change, and Liverpool had more control on the game. There always seemed to be a man available - there was always an option for a player in possession because that seems to be the nature of the system.
The personnel Liverpool have at the moment shows that they can play a system that includes a back three with relative ease, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Liverpool line up like that in the near future. There are plenty of options within the side to make it work.
As a system, there doesn’t seem to be a lot wrong with it. The question is, is it better than the current one ?
image: © Bernard Chan