We’ve seen a steady inflow of attacking talent into this Liverpool squad over the past 3 years. Varun Shah gives his take on the strongest Liverpool XI that we might see this year.
Disclaimer: I am an Arsenal fan, this article is written because I am a fan of the phenomenon that is Jurgen Klopp. I would like him to see Liverpool as a warm up to the Arsenal job but yes it’s a bit far fetched. Over the years, we have heard many a Liverpool fan say “next year will be our year” but they just don’t materialise. This year they have managed to get into the Champions League after a 2 year absence but the big trophy still eludes them that is the Premier League.
Last year a lot of people were impressed with Liverpool and the fact that they managed to finish 4th but I think that they have a lot of work to do in order to really compete for the Premier League. Last year, they had no burden of extra European Football and still looked a jaded side in January, maybe that just is the amount Klopp demands from his players or maybe Adam Lallana wasn’t lying when he said that they were playing 90 minutes long competitive matches on European game nights to gear themselves up for next year. Whichever the reason, Liverpool are far from a Premier League winning side and I believe they are 2 seasons from a Premier League winning team if they spend their money wisely(trust me, it’s a big if when you see what they did with the Suarez money).
Let’s assume Klopp sticks to the 4–3–3 formation which worked for Liverpool last season, beginning from the back, they have problems starting from goal. Karius or Mignolet do not seem like Champions League level Goalkeepers with their respective weaknesses. Joe Hart is available and if I were Klopp I would try to really go for him because he is a very experienced Goalkeeper willing to move. At right back they have a good first team player in Clyne but need a decent backup of Champions League quality which isn’t easy to find. Dani Alves seems available and wanting a move to the Premier League, it would be a morale boosting signing if Liverpool could pip Man City to his signature. Now we move to the centre of defense where the lesser said about Liverpool, the better. I feel they only have one good quality Centre back in Joel Matip and Lovren would qualify as a backup in my book. The lesser I speak about Klavan the better. Considering that Klopp likes Bundesliga players he could look at Sokratis from Dortmund who would be a really good signing for Liverpool. Next, we move to left back and James Milner has done a tremendous job but let’s be honest he isn’t a long term solution. Klopp needs to find a left back quickly and a quality one. He could go back to the usual Southampton shop and get Ryan Bertrand who would be good, he should also really consider selling or working on Alberto Moreno who’s Liverpool career has been extremely bad(Remember the Europa League final?)
As you can see Liverpool need reinforcements in every area of defense. That’s not a good sign for a club that will have the burden of Champions League football too next year. Moving ahead to midfield they seem more secure in the centre with Jordan Henderson, Emre Can and Coutinho forming the three in midfield (please PSG take Coutinho he is a menace).for backup they have Adam Lallana and Wijnaldum who are top class replacements. Lucas isn’t as good as he was when he first arrived but he’s still a decent midfield replacement. I’d still like to add another midfielder for safety due to the physical demands of the Premier League and Champions League combined. Up top also they seem set with new boy Salah(oh if only they wanted to pay 11 mil back in 2014 they’d have saved a lot), Mane and Firmino making up the top three.As backup they have Sturridge, Ings, Solanke and Origi who are decent replacements (considering Sturridge and Ings dont spend all their time at the hospital). I still would want to have another attacker as Sturridge and Ings are very unreliable injury wise. Although, if Liverpool decide to keep Lazar Markovic then they may not need to sign another attacker All in all there are 6 positions that Liverpool could use new players at- GK, CB, RB, LB, CM and a winger.
I love the way Liverpool play now(expect when they play that way against Arsenal). It is beautiful to watch but they need to be able to sustain it through an entire season with the Champions League. Even without it they weren’t able to keep up the momentum last year and you cannot outscore your opponent in every game. Jurgen Klopp plays very attractive football but in a way this team reminds me of the Arsenal team between 2008–2013, i.e play some beautiful football but just not able to get the right balance between attack and defense. Defences win leagues and Liverpool have had a shaky one since a while. They need to improve their personnel to really mount Premier League title challenge. I think they’re about 2 seasons away from a serious title challenge. Either way it’s going to be interesting next season to watch Liverpool manage both the CL and PL.
If I were I Liverpool fan this is the lineup I’d want-
Bench: Karius, Lovren, Milner, Lallana, Wijnaldum, Origi, Sturridge.