Brendan Rodgers willing to tinker with Liverpool formation to 'exploit the strengths of our players'

Reintegrating Luis Suarez has posed a dilemma for the Reds manager

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes fiddling with his formation is worth it if means he can maintain his two-pronged attack of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge.

In recent weeks the Reds boss has opted for a 3-4-1-2 formation, which was virtually a 3-2-3-2 in last weekend's win at Sunderland.

He first utilised it after injuries to full-backs Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique but the return of Suarez from a 10-match suspension left him with the conundrum of getting the best out of one striker who scored 30 goals last season and another enjoying a rich vein of form in Suarez's absence.

And while Rodgers is reluctant to commit himself and his team to a preferred set-up he admits the current system gets the best out of his two strikers, who scored all three goals in a 3-1 win at the Stadium of Light on Sunday.

"It's about exploiting the strengths of our players and I think this does it well for us," he said.

"What I've found is that if I play one up top and one wide, I take a little bit away from them. They work better as a proper front two.

"In Suarez and Sturridge, I've got what I call two 'nine-and-a-halves'.

"They both like to move, they like to drift and they both like to go into the half-positions in between the lines.

"You've got two great players as your front two and then you build the structure around that.

"I'm not the traditional 4-4-2 man and with the players we've got we can make this system work.

"If you have got them (Sturridge and Suarez) through the middle, moving and inter-changing then your structure has to then change behind that and that's obviously something that we have done."

While Rodgers is keen to make his front two the obvious focal point for the team he insists that does not change his principles.

"The game is evolving all the time but the style never changes," he said.

"I've always asked teams to control and dominate the ball, be aggressive in their defending and press really aggressively and high up the pitch - but that can be in whatever system."

Rodgers added in Liverpool Echo: "What I've said to our front two is that when we're defending in our half of the pitch, when we can't press and we are under pressure, I am happy for them both to stay up there.

"That gives us nine men behind the ball, the opposition have to leave at least two defenders back covering so the maximum number they can put in our half of the pitch is eight.

"I'll take that we can defend nine versus eight if that gives me two-v-two in their half of the pitch because of our strikers' pace and power.

"For me, it's all about getting a numerical advantage centrally to try to dominate the opposition."

Second-placed Liverpool have a chance to leapfrog leaders Arsenal, who play Sunday, with a victory at home to Crystal Palace

Their last appearance at Anfield saw them slip to a surprise defeat to Southampton but Rodgers is adamant they will not fall into that trap again.

"I am not one to dwell on too many negatives," he said.

"We were disappointing in that game, we maybe didn't deserve to lose it but we didn't deserve to win it. We have moved on well.

"There are still lots of areas that we can be better but we have confidence and belief at the moment.

"We are team who are evolving and we are starting to understand that side of football that with every attack you can't score, sometimes you have to disrupt your opponents' organisation and then make goals from there and that requires patience from the players and supporters.

"The beauty for me is that I think we've still got a lot of improvement to make and we'll just look to keep winning the next game."

PA

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