A primary objective in Brendan Rodgers' recent 3-5-2 system for Liverpool is to isolate forward duo Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez in two against two situations at the expense of the opposition.

The boss has altered his formation in recent weeks to accommodate both the Englishman and the Uruguayan at the front of his team, while also retaining defensive solidity at the other end of the pitch.

That set-up worked spectacularly at Sunderland last weekend, when the attacking pair wreaked havoc in scoring all three goals between them to down the Black Cats 3-1 at the Stadium of Light.

"It's about exploiting the strengths of our players and I think this does it well for us," Rodgers told the Liverpool Echo.

"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.

"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 even if they push their two full-backs on, 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. That's what happened for our second goal at Sunderland.

"When Stevie won it in the middle he made the pass out to Sturridge, who spun out. He was one-on-one, he went past the defender with his pace and crossed for Suarez, who had bust a gut to get there, to score."


At his pre-Crystal Palace press conference on Thursday, the Northern Irishman refused to be drawn on journalists' questions whether 3-5-2 is now his preferred formation for the Reds.

Instead, Rodgers is keen to highlight the potential of having an alternative system to switch to, stressing the potential numerical advantage the option provides for his players.

He continued: "If you think back to last season, it's not just something we have thrown on.

"We've done bits and pieces on it in training. We went to three at the back in the game at Everton last season, when it worked well for us in the second half.

"We also played it away at Fulham, when it didn't work quite so well, but it allowed me as a coach to take a look at it when the team is under pressure.

"It gave me food for thought in terms of the areas we needed to improve on it. I think there are elements of it which have been very good for us. We look a real threat and are getting lots of bodies forward.

"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.

"We could vary it. We could play with a No.10 and a flat back four. We could also play with a diamond in midfield but I'd need all my players available for that.

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