Jamie Carragher shared on Monday Night Football on Sky Sports (23/11/20 at 10:30 pm) that ‘no-one can tell me’ that Liverpool’s defence is dropping ’10 or 15 yards’ back.
During Liverpool’s infamous night at Villa Park, a lot was made of the club’s previously successful high line and how they would always look to play offside every time a ball was played over the top.
When Virgil van Dijk got injured in the Merseyside derby, some claims were made that Jurgen Klopp would perhaps urge his now depleted and slightly slower defence to drop back.
But when analysing Liverpool’s 3-0 win over Leicester City closely, especially how they defended against Jamie Vardy, Carragher doesn’t see a change in their defensive plans.
“People spoke when Van Dijk went out of the team that Liverpool will completely change,” said Carragher. “They will drop off 10 or 15 yards. I watch Liverpool’s games and I didn’t quite see it. But I wanted to have time to analyse it against someone like a Jamie Vardy.”
Carragher then illustrates, from Sunday’s game, how the home team are playing a high line by showing Fabinho defending yards away from the half-way line, whilst Leicester take a throw-in from their defensive third on Liverpool’s left-hand side.
“You see the position of Fabinho [as explained above],” said Carragher. “Now, yes it’s a throw-in but you cannot say they are deep. I mean it’s difficult to go much higher than the position that he is in. There is plenty of space in behind.
“No-one can tell me that Liverpool are dropping off 10-15 yards now without Van Dijk when I see them in those positions. And you have all that [space in behind] for Jamie Vardy to run into, who did play a lot more on this side [Liverpool’s left-hand side] against Fabinho.”
Added with that, Carragher then shows an image of Fabinho looking to run back when Leicester have the ball near the halfway line because they are trying to do the inevitable and put the ball over the top for Vardy.
“Yes, they are still playing a high line like they normally do, but look at Fabinho’s body position,” said the former centre-back. “Yes, we can talk about being a midfield player in there. But he’s been outstanding. What he is doing is playing a high line but ready to run back over his head.”
The Reds may have even surprised their own fans by how they have reacted, especially from a defensive standpoint, since losing their leader at the back.
It’s like the ghost of Van Dijk has been playing with them on the pitch and providing them with this calmness, which they have shown in bucket loads since they lost him to injury.
Either way, their win against the Foxes over the weekend was their best performance of the season because of the situation they were in heading into that match and how they handled it.