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A data-driven study of one of the key areas Premier League champions have developed over the past five years

Liverpool are Premier League champions for the first time and English champions for the first time since 1990.

Coach Jürgen Klopp has deservedly earned admiring glances for his side’s thrilling attacking style of play in the five years leading up to their winning campaign.
During this season, Liverpool have become more controlled in possession. Still attacking (85 league goals), but with the handbrake slightly on.

Working for Sky Sports just weeks before being named manager of Tottenham Hotspur last October, Jose Mourinho argued that Liverpool still prefer to play against teams that allow them to break the rhythm. Indeed, the combination of Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mane smoothly transitioning from defense to attack is often cited as one of the team’s most important tactical innovations.

But when I watched Liverpool last season, it was clear that teams are now giving them much less space in the back to take advantage of in transition.

Additionally, their season average possession percentage was 59.6%. At first glance, they appear to have completely transitioned into a team that seems to dominate from the start, rather than sitting deep and rocking the opponent forward.
Official Premier League stats show Liverpool have scored 11 goals on the break during their league title campaign. A classic example would be the supreme goal in Leicester City’s stunning 4-0 victory on Boxing Day.

After collecting the ball near the halfway line, Georginio Wijnaldum sent a pass to Sadio Mane, who advanced to the Foxes back line, with Trent Alexander-Arnold charging outside of him to create an overload.

passed the ball to him and the right-back did the rest, slotting the ball (for the first time) into the far post.

The Reds’ opponents are the only opponents in the league that day to score more than eight goals directly from breaks.
But is this part of a larger trend? Have the Reds become even more efficient during the break than previously thought and have they reached new heights?
A starting point is to compare last season to Klopp’s first full season.

That year, Liverpool only managed 3 goals – yes 3 – straight from a counterattack, the same number as relegated Hull City.
At that time, however, the team was far from the level it has reached today. They were able to beat the big teams that finished above them (Chelsea, Spurs, City) but slipped against the bottom teams that knew how to counter each other (Burnley, Hull, Swansea). Klopp hasn’t coached a side capable of constantly injuring opponents on the break, which has diminished the chances of scoring.

His Dortmund side, who reached the Champions League final in 2013, had a fearsome pace in wide attacking areas and he realized Liverpool needed similar weapons in their arsenal to fight back. for the title.

Four things to see in Liverpool v Everton as Cody Gakpo kept his word and Jurgen Klopp got it right

However, Liverpool gradually found more space which Salah and Mane were able to take advantage of on a regular basis. They just hadn’t quite added a totally ruthless touch.

What they had added at this point were strong runners from the full-back positions. Alexander-Arnold and Robertson were now established regulars in the team, mainly due to their ability to fly forward into open space and create chances. Despite knowing it beforehand, the opposition defenses found it incredibly difficult to stop.

Both players provided such a forward dynamic and suddenly the team had several players who were brilliant at exploiting the open spaces.

Their development has been the biggest factor in going from sixth best fast break in the division to third best, in just 2 years.
This element of Liverpool’s approach has improved season after season. As the statistics show, gegenpressing has had a major impact.

Basically, the longer Klopp’s tactical blueprint was set on the team, the deadlier they became at halftime.

LFCs are ideally set up to train fast counters from deep positions. ‘False 9′ Roberto Firmino could slip slightly into space in the opposition half and drag defenders along with him and give more space to collide with Mane and Salah, who swapped on the right.
This pattern of play is first seen in the Reds’ 2017-18 Champions League run, with one of Salah’s goals against Roma at Anfield being a perfect example. This goal (seen below) was a turning point for the Reds.
He didn’t just complete a beautifully crafted team move.

He has demonstrated their ability to score goals on the run from all angles.