The signing of Virgil Van Dijk seems to have given hope to the Reds as Jurgen Klopp finally has someone he can rely on in the backline. Also, the other thing that has been overlooked is that the Dutchman’s inclusion gives Liverpool the ability to play with different systems.
Indeed, with the former Southampton man in their side, they now have the chance to play with 3 defenders on the pitch. Anyhow, without revealing much here itself, let’s have a look at the number of systems the Reds could try with Van Dijk in defence.
The obvious choice would be to stick to the formation that Liverpool already play, with the Dutchman forming a partnership at the heart of the defence with Joel Matip. Joe Gomez and Alberto Moreno will be the full-backs in this system with a midfield trio of Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Philippe Coutinho supporting both the defence and the offence.
And the front three will be the ever-consistent trio of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino. The thing is, this is the most likely scenario that the German coach would opt for, where Van Dijk just seamlessly enters the playing XI as a replacement for Dejan Lovren.
This is basically just a simple variation of the above system where two defensive midfielders guard the defence. The backline will consist of the same players as mentioned above. However, for this system to work, Jordan Henderson will have to be removed from the playing XI, something that is already happening on a regular basis.
In this system, Georginio Wijnaldum will pair up with James Milner to guard the defence while Philippe Coutinho will be in the hole behind the forwards, doing what he does best: weaving some beautiful plays with his majestic ball control and passing.
Meanwhile, the attack will be the same as above as you don’t really want to change one of the best attacking trios in the world, do you?
For some reason, I think this could be Liverpool’s best formation now as it not only has space for all three of Liverpool’s best attackers to be in, but it also improves them defensively due to the presence of an extra man.
The backline will consist of Dejan Lovren, Virgil Van Dijk and Joel Matip. It’s true that Lovren has not done himself any favour and still is a very error-prone defender, having someone cover for him could perhaps see the best out of him.
The full-backs here could be the same pair of Joe Gomez and Alberto Moreno. However, the interesting bit would be the two players in midfield. Klopp could take a risk here and play the pair of Coutinho and James Milner or opt for a more defensive double pivot of Milner and Wijnaldum.
If Coutinho plays in midfield, then the attacking trio would be the usual three of Salah, Firmino and Mane and if the Coutinho doesn’t play in midfield, then he could take up the left-wing occupied by Mane or could replace his compatriot as the false 9 of the team.