With an international break after such a frustrating result, and stretch of games, it's hard not get lost among the forest of dejection. We've got nothing to do here for two weeks but bemoan the constant flogging of the woodwork, the blocked shots, the chances that weren't put away, the defensive mix-ups that led to goals against or nearly did. It's maddening. But what else are you going to do?
Noel over at The Offside took a look today at Adam and Lucas in midfield, and how despite their impressive games were still having their problems against a three man midfield. it's not the first time this has happened, and one only need to go back to the previous home game against Norwich to see how a two-man midfield -- this time comprised of Gerrard and Adam, struggled to cope with battling three men. There have been other studies of matches and positioning, and we know where the problems are.
First off, if Liverpool were crashing in the three or four per game that their chances would dictate they should, no one would care what formation Liverpool are playing. But they aren't, they don't play a game for almost two weeks, so we're left with nothing to do but try and figure out what might need to change.
Liverpool have three problems that I can see, or at least three main ones in attack. One is that the two-man central axis can be too easily outworked, especially with the immobile Adam as disinterested in tracking back as he can sometimes be. Second, the width problem on whatever side Jordan Henderson ends up on deflates with his tendencies to drift inside. Maybe this does aid the two men in the center at times, but not enough. Thirdly, Liverpool just don't seem to get enough people in the box. Every cross that's hit is only seemingly aimed at Carroll, especially when Suarez pulls out wide.
Maybe it's not a cure all, but I think a slight tweaking of the formation from a 4-2-2-2 to a 4-3-3 would help. The three in the middle almost perfectly suits a Gerrard-Adam-Lucas triumvirate, whichever of Adam or Gerrard has to be more advanced. If it's Adam, he's got adequate cover. If it's Gerrard it suits his box to box mentality. If it's both, Lucas is just covering the ground he is now anyway. It also suits Henderson better, he wants to be in the middle as it is and with the protection of two other central midfielders, I think his roving tendencies would actually be a benefit instead of a hindrance.
As for the front three, you can go two ways. It can be Downing-Carroll-Suarez, with Downing and Suarez swapping sides which they like to do anyway. The only drawback I can see is that putting Suarez in a "wide" role might limit his scoring opportunities. But we know that Suarez is all over the pitch as it is anyway, and pulls out wide as a lone striker. This wouldn't be a foreign place for him, and he will still get in the scoring areas. Also, when Downing lines up a cross, he should find Carroll and Suarez and a charging Gerrard/Henderson to aim at.
If Liverpool don't want to play Carroll, you could opt for the slightly more mobile Downing-Suarez-Kuyt lineup. Not that quick, but capable of popping up anywhere and two guys who can sniff out a goal.
This formation also might expose the fullbacks even more than they are now with Downing and Suarez a little further up the pitch. But Pool's fullbacks are exposed now. Secondly, if Suarez is on the right, Lucas can cheat to that side to shield Glen Johnson. Or if it's the left he can cheat that way too.
It's not a perfect solution, but it's one I'd like to see tried.