How Liverpool Changed Their Pressing This Season

How Liverpool Changed Their Pressing This Season
November 19, 2018 WillTGM


By TTT Subscriber Will Gurpinar-Morgan.

One of the questions surrounding Liverpool’s season so far has been the perceived alteration of their pressing strategy, particularly high up the pitch. Several tactical analysts have pointed to the team adopting more of a ‘mid-block’, with pressing traps set further up-field and greater aggression when the opposition play into their midfield zone. This contrasts with prior seasons, where the team adopted more of ‘high-press’, where the opposition defence was constantly closed down when in possession. Check this Between the Posts’ account of ‘conservative’ Liverpool’s 1-1 draw at Arsenal this season.

Some statistical analyses have lent credence to this, pointing out that the length of Liverpool’s opponents’ possessions have been longer this season than in the past, as well as featuring more passes per possession. Furthermore, the team’s opponents have been completing a greater proportion of their passes this season and playing more passes per defensive action. Together, these suggest some change in approach, whether by the Reds themselves or the opposition. This article by Adam Bate on SkySports also refers to a change of style.

However, off-the-ball data collected by the Under Pressure podcast on pressing actions show that both the location and number of actions has been largely similar this season compared to last, aside from a substantial shift when the team is ahead. This is further supported by pressure event actions collected by StatsBomb Services, which also indicate relatively minor changes.

Taken together, the evidence seems somewhat conflicting and difficult to consolidate into a consistent narrative. So what can we take from the evidence before us? What is the story behind the team’s pressing this season?

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