With the ball the combination play is becoming more efficient. They continue with the 424 formation with the ball, with short building and the central defenders holding the ball to invite pressure onto them in order to open the opposition block.
There was a new variation in possession which can be used more, where Azpilicueta played the the ball diagonally to Matic, with his back to goal and being pressured from behind. Matic played a first time ball around the corner with his left - first time balls around the corner with back to goal being a common theme - to Pedro moving towards the ball, who then played a first time layoff to the advancing Azpilicueta on an overlapping run. Following this Azpilicueta played a ball behind while Batshuayi was coming towards the ball to a pass to feet. If they had two strikers on the pitch at this point they would have been able to have one going behind and another to feet to have the possibility of a much better outcome.
On the right they continued with Willian moving inside for the ball and then dribbling with it inside upon receiving, along with first time flicks around the corner of the defender. On the left Moses is now very efficient with the first time passes inside with his right foot when receiving the ball with back to goal, while the front two also have coordinated their movements better in these situations. The pass goes to the far side striker (Troare) that lays it off first time to the other striker (RLC) moving away from the defender. Traore will then run behind the defence while RLC plays a first time pass behind for Traore to run onto.
With the front two we also saw Long balls up to RLC in the air, making a curved run to the side of Traore, while the latter makes a curved run to where RLC has moved from to receive the 2nd ball from the header.
RLC was also able to use his tremendous physical qualities in this game to receive with back to goal and a defender pressing him, before holding and turning with the ball to roll the defender to take the ball past him. He would then drive with the ball into space before drawing a foul.
When the ball was in midfield and the central midfielders were facing play, Cesc played a few switches to Moses (as did Cahill with less efficiency). This would also happen in moments where they either regained the ball high from counter pressing in these situations or any situation where there was a cluster of Liverpool players near the ball and space out wide for Moses. Here Moses would always be aggressive and look to take the ball forward, trying the beat the fullback, and cross the ball into the box. The crosses would mostly be from his right foot, coming back inside, but were inconsistent in finding one of the front two in the box.
In this game they set up in a medium block in a 451. The change here was Traore Joining the right side of the midfield 3 between Willian and Fabregas, with RLC the striker. The midfield 5 was mostly a flat line of 5, while Traore would also be slightly higher when Liverpool had the ball on their right hand side. There were some moments where Traore would sprint up to a Liverpool player about to receive the ball early on in the game, but RLC was often too deep to support the press, or not acting upon the trigger to start closing down an option around the ball to force them back to the ‘keeper.
The pressing has improved each game, while this game was the most impressive of the three. Here there was much better group movements and reorganisation for certain situations. They would pressure from a midfield block, with the defensive line high and close to the midfield line. When a Liverpool player had the ball facing play and without ball pressure, the defensive line would have side body positions and would drop a few steps to be ready to cover the depth upon any depth passes, while moving back up if depth wasn't found and the ball played to a player that the team had access to in order to pressure the ball.
The pressing was focused on a wide approach to winning the ball, with a narrow block. Upon the ball played up a flank, RLC would move over to the nearside central defender on that side, while the fullback on that side would move up to follow his man - leading to Aina intercepting the ball on various occasions - while the central midfielder on that side would also move across to both condense the space in these areas and to have pressure on any short passing options. From these wide areas they could then counter, with the wide player having the ball early and able to carry it quickly into the open space. Willian would mostly run inside to central areas, while Moses would go directly up the wing with the ball.
During situations in deep areas, around their own box, where Liverpool attacked wide areas and were against the fullback - winger too high up to get back and support the fullback - the central midfield player on that side would move across to cover the fullback.
An issue they had when defending in deeper areas occurred when the wide players would be back and join the defensive line. Here there were some situations where Liverpool could play wide and then back inside to a midfielder in the interior areas. As a result the fullback and winger were either both occupied and, or both, were too deep and far away from the player in order to have access to the ball in.
Another area where they could have some difficulties to control are quick switches to wide areas in defensive transitions, where the fullbacks are facing the winger, without cover, while the opposition fullback on that side can lose his man and create a 2v1 situation in a wide area.
Overall the defensive setup is looking like it could be very good and much better than last season - especially with Kante adding mobility in central areas, along with potentially adding a top central defender like Koulibaly to the squad.
One point to add about defensive set pieces from this game is that they could potentially make much better use of counter attacks from them this season. The way they set up in this game was to have Cesc and RLC zonal in front of the first post, while The near side winger is on the side of the box and Traore was by the short option. The rest of the team are man-marking. They showed quick and aggressive reactions when the ball was regained form these situations, with Traore and the near side winger immediately sprinting up the wing, while both Cesc and RLC were also moving forward and breaking out of the box quickly. Add the far side winger in games where the opposition don’t commit as many players to mark and there is the potential for dangerous counters next season.
With the offensive corners they continued with a few short variations involving Traore, while Cesc was taking more free kicks to cross into the box - opposed to Willian taking every one like last season.