When Liverpool won the EPL season in 2019-20, they pressed an average of 148 per game which is now 113. It also clarifies why the Reds are having difficulties.
The foundation of Liverpool’s recent success is the gegenpress, a style in which a team concedes possession but recovers it right away through ferocious closing down and tactical acumen.
This counter-pressure is typically used in the final third of the field with the idea that winning the ball there will enable the counter-press to “become the best playmaker in the team,” in the words of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.
This has required some monumental work for Liverpool’s triumph. Their squad has had to chase after their opponents as a result. It has necessitated concessions, such as those made by Roberto Firmino, a striker who prioritises blocking the defensive midfielder tasked with stopping him rather than scoring goals.
It has demanded that the team be of a smaller calibre, one in their energy and quality, but also united in injuries, arduous kilometres, and the wear-and-tear of their way of life.
As a result, the Reds have searched all around Europe for success until discovering it in a Champions League victory.
They have won every domestic trophy available to them under their German manager, except the English Premier League, which they finally won after 30 long years.
“80% of modern football teams press. We don’t press. We chase. The idea of pressing is not to force them one way. Our idea of pressing is not to force bad passes. Our idea of pressing is to steal the ball. Steal the ball to attack – steal the ball to create. It’s all about the last two metres. We go there to steal the ball.” Pep Lijnders, Liverpool’s assistant coach, speaks to The Coaches’ Voice on the English team’s mindset after their 4-0 victory over Barcelona at Anfield.
Despite the indications that Liverpool’s gegenpress was fading, Klopp and the team appeared to have already discovered a workable alternative.
A front three of Salah, Diogo Jota, and Luis Diaz performed admirably against Ajax in the Champions League last week. Thiago has also returned from injury.
In the last third of the pitch, the trio applied 43 presses collectively, with Diaz, who took Nunez’s place, contributing 22 of those. Liverpool applied pressure on Ajax a total of 160 times.
The Reds are showing signs of life at a critical juncture. Brighton, who is presently fourth in the EPL, Arsenal, and Manchester City, three clubs that are currently in top form, will all visit them for their next three Premier League games.
A season can end with one defeat, and one draw can raise questions. Liverpool may be able to recover from a disastrous start thanks to the new forward line experiment, or Manchester City may get the driving seat for yet another season.
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