Liverpool’s “two banks of four” works well against ten men

February 10, 2010

A couple of weeks ago we detailed how Jose Mourinho’s Inter side played brilliantly after going down to ten men against Milan’s 4-3-3 system, keeping two players upfront but asking them to work the channels, thereby occupying the whole of a four-man defence, matching a three-man midfield, and having a spare man at the back. That would have only worked against a three-man midfield, however. Had Mourinho tried it against a four-man midfield, his three central midfielders would have been passed around fairly easily.

Rafa Benitez showed how to play with ten men against a 4-4-2 on Saturday, by keeping two solid banks of four close together just infront of their own penalty area.

Therefore it was effectively an eight-person man-for-man system – the centre-backs picking up the Everton forwards, the full-backs picking up the wingers, the central midfielders picking up central midfielders, and the wide midfielders tracking the full-backs when they ventured forward. David N’Gog remained upfront on his own, seeking to occupy the two Everton centre-backs.

And it worked brilliantly. As this Chalkboard shows, despite being down to ten men for the final hour of the game, Liverpool only twice needed to make a challenge within their own penalty area, and only once were they forced to make an interception in their own area (Lucas, in the 92nd minute). Liverpool snuffed out any danger as soon as the ball came into their third of the pitch – the line of interceptions around thirty yards out is particularly impressive. Everton were limited to just four shots in the entire hour they had an extra player on the pitch.

by Guardian Chalkboards

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