Why Daniel Sturridge Solves Liverpool's Tactical Problems (Premier League Index, 1/20/13))
Liverpool’s issue has been that of struggling to find a formation (particularly in attack) that allows players to concentrate play (with options) in and around zone 14. Barcelona’s (and theoretically perfect) 3-4-3 formation [shown below] works well because of player personnel and attitudes towards patience, full backs and dribbling. In the Barcelona build-up the fullbacks and dribbling are used as ways to stretch the game and Barcelona tease the opposition out of position using either of these methods. It is clear that Liverpool for the first three months of the season used full-backs and the dribble as a way of trying to create goal scoring opportunities and relied on these two functions far more so than Barcelona do. Therefore Rodgers has had to find a positional solution that offers Liverpool freedom from crossing and freedom to concentrate play centrally with options (to avoid impatience).
Luis Suarez was originally employed in Leo Messi’s role (see Barcelona’s formation) of a false 9 to get Suarez on the ball as often as possible, however the problem is that this role is only effective (for the team’s play) if all things are in place. With the introduction of Sturridge, Rodgers has jumped at the opportunity to try something different tactically. Suarez now finds himself positioned in the number 10 role [see relevant images below] and Sturridge plays a much more advanced number 9 role, still allowing Suarez with the opportunity to pick up the ball and break forward, but now there are players in advanced positions to offer combination play in central and dangerous areas of the field. Therefore, it is easy to see how this new tactical solution offers Liverpool with options and takes them away from crossing as an attempted method of assist. Now, Rodgers will hope teams come to play against Liverpool and struggle to defend with ease in central areas.
So by signing Sturridge, Liverpool have bought so much more than a Premier League striker who has potential to succeed at the highest level, they’ve bought a new tactical solution; a solution that is Liverpool FC specific and isn’t an attempt to mimic what works for another club elsewhere. Each set of players will have their own unique player profile and it is the job of the manager to find the structure that fits into his philosophy.