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Liverpool will need a proper No.10 to break open dour defences of smaller teams

Liverpool Anfield
Gene Hunt, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Liverpool drew with Luton Town 1-1 at Kenilworth Road in a Premier League match last Sunday, Nov. 5. Liverpool remain in the third place with 23 points from 11 matches, while Luton are 17th with six points from 11 matches.

Luton Town were minutes away from one of the biggest wins in their history, as Luis Diaz equalized in the dying minutes to salvage a point for the Reds.

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However, the result would have disappointed Jurgen Klopp overall, as his team lost points despite dominating the match.

Liverpool lacked a proper no. 10

Liverpool have always played with a 4-3-3 formation under the German manager and Sunday was no exception. However, quite understandably, Luton adopted a counter-attacking style and defended deep for the most part.

There were brief periods of the game that saw the Reds have more than 80% ball possession, but still they were not able to breach the opposition defence more than once. It was probably because they lacked a No. 10, who could carry the ball through the middle and then play it to their forwards in the final third.

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Even Darwin Nunez, who started as the centre-forward, is usually comfortable cutting in from the left flank, but was hardly given a chance to do so against the numbers put forth by Luton Town on Sunday.

Both Dominic Szoboszlai and Ryan Gravenberch kept moving towards the flanks to exchange passes with the wingers in the wide areas, but Liverpool kept lacking presence in the central areas.

Mohamed Salah needs space to excel

The talismanic Salah, who has 10 goals and four assists already this season, was not at his usual best against Luton. It was probably because the 31-year-old Egyptian forward usually excels when he gets enough space inside the opposition half.

He is typically at his most lethal form when a long ball is played to him _ usually by Alexis Mac Allister _ while the Reds attack through a counter. Salah then either cuts in through the inside-right channel or plays the final pass to one of his colleagues to slice the opposition defence open.

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However, he failed to do the above frequently against a cautious Luton on Sunday. As a result, Liverpool struggled to score on the day. During the last 20 minutes or so, the Reds switched to a 4-4-2 with Nunez and Salah upfront. Moreover, Luis Diaz and Harvey Elliott, who replaced Diogo Jota and Szoboszlai respectively, started playing as the left and right-sided midfielders, respectively.

The crosses started flying into the Luton penalty box, with Elliott proving to have quite an impact. Diaz scored the equalizer from one of Elliot’s crosses to earn the point for Liverpool.

Important match against Manchester City a few weeks away

Liverpool will travel to the Etihad Stadium to play against Manchester City on Nov. 25. However, before that, they will play against a dogged side like Brentford, who have a reputation for playing ultra-defensive football.

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They will take heart from Luton’s performance, and one will be eager to watch how well Liverpool responds to the upcoming challenge. Cody Gakpo, who came on as a substitute versus Luton, is one player who can play as a central attacking midfielder and hence, his role will be crucial against smaller teams.


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