Could Shaqiri’s Southampton Cameo Point Towards New Approach?

How the use of Xherdan Shaqiri in the 3-0 victory over Southampton could suggest how Liverpool are going to set up against the lesser teams this season.
Joel Sanderson-Murray  |  24th September 2018

You get the feeling Xherdan Shaqiri’s Liverpool career is going to be a bit mad.

He’s a quirky little guy isn’t he? Definitely looks the type to do handstands in the pub while trying to neck a pint, and that’s before we even get started on his bulging (and quite mesmeric) calves.

What a first start for the club on Saturday against Southampton. If this is a sign of things to come then the Swiss international is going to delight, amaze and frustrate on a regular basis – its time to get strapped in and enjoy the ride.

Shaqiri played a part in 2 of the goals at Anfield, forcing an own goal from Wesley Hoedt in the tenth minute before striking a delicious free kick against the crossbar which was finished off by Mo Salah for the third.

The £13.5 million signing from Stoke had quite the impact, buzzing around and always posing a threat to Mark Hughes’ side.

Jurgen Klopp’s pre-match press conference on Friday suggested that the possibility of Shaqiri starting the game was strong but it did come as a surprise to many that he started alongside Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohammed Salah, rather than instead of.

Shaqiri to score and Liverpool to win 1-0, 2-0, or 2-1 vs Chelsea in the League Cup was 8.00 now 9.00 

When Shaqiri made the move from the Bet365 Stadium in July it was largely expected that Klopp would see him as an alternative to the front three, offering the manager the opportunity to rest and rotate his marauding forwards.

But against Southampton it appeared that the 26-year-old was playing in a central role in midfield, although more advanced than Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum.

It was more like the 4-2-3-1 formation Klopp was familiar with using at Borussia Dortmund and something we’ve not seen regularly at Anfield.

But is it something that we could get used to seeing?

Seeing Shaqiri operate in midfield allowed Liverpool to have four attackers on the pitch, giving the team greater prowess in trying to break down a Southampton side that arrived at Anfield with the aim of trying to low-block their way to a credible draw.

It is the kind of game that we have seen Liverpool struggle with countless of times in the past, failing to break down teams with negative mentalities and dropping points in games that the Reds really should be winning.

Manchester City’s ability and dominance means there is little room for compromise for Liverpool when it comes to dropping points against the lesser teams in the Premier League this season, and this means we could see Klopp take on a gung-ho approach in these games, even more so than he usually does.

This is where the use of Shaqiri could be an interesting concept to keep an eye on over the coming weeks.

Playing the Swiss forward alongside the regular front three allows Klopp to have four attackers on the pitch, a real embarrassment of riches that can inflict fear into most football teams in Europe.

With the likes of Henderson, Wijnaldum and James Milner doing the leg-work behind them there can be scope for taking the risk and putting out a team that may be slightly top-heavy.

Aside from the other members of the so-called ‘top six’ in the league, who else could you say with confidence is going to come to Anfield and have a real go at attacking Liverpool? (Ok, lets rule United out of that thought.)

If sides are going to come and play 11 men behind the ball then you can see why it makes perfect sense to load up the team with forwards and press the boot on the throat of the away team.

Liverpool dropped points at home to Burnley, Everton, Stoke and West Bromwich Albion last season. Teams that the club really should be beating and with the standards that Manchester City set last campaign these are points that Liverpool cannot afford to drop this time round.

We could see more of ‘little mad’ Shaqiri doing wacky handstands in these type of games in the coming weeks and months.

RedsBet is the only bookmaker committed to sharing 50% of net profits with Liverpool fans. 

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