Those who enjoyed watching Swansea City pass their way to a comfortable mid-table finish last season might have thought that Michael Laudrup had it easy coming in to take over from Brendan Rodgers and that there was little to chance in a winning formula at the club. However one of the tweaks that the Dane has made to the side has been to play a more direct game at times, and this has helped them become an even better team this year.
Brendan Rodgers is of course now at Liverpool, and is starting to put a team together than will challenge for a top four place next season and perhaps even in the closing months of this year. As expected, he has instituted a possession based game, with Liverpool generally controlled the matches they have played this year whatever the result.
However against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, they actually ceded the possession battle to their opponents, playing a more direct style that ended up helping them win the match. This is not the only time that Liverpool have had less possession than their opponents in the Premier League, and they have been impressive in the other games, such as the draw with Arsenal, when they have been more direct.
Part of the reason for this has been the extra room that Luis Suarez has on the ball when it is given to him early before the defence has a time to settle. When Liverpool play their short passes through the centre, the opposition can set up a screen in their own half which ensures Suarez is often surrounded by the time the ball does get to him. This was the case when Liverpool lost at White Hart Lane in a match they largely controlled, but struggled to score in.
At Anfield yesterday, they move the ball a little quicker which mean that Spurs struggled to always keep tabs on Suarez, who was ably supported by Coutinho and Sturridge. Whilst their possession game is excellent for when they play smaller sides or pick up and early lead, Liverpool should perhaps look at improving this direct side to their play, as it can give them an extra dimension going forward, and better utilise the talent of Suarez in broken play.
image: © Bernard C