Before this season began I thought Liverpool were in touching distance of the Premier League. With Jurgen Klopp at the helm, they are in impeccable hands, a man who twice beat the odds to win the Bundesliga. The squad is full of young talent and Premier League experience providing the perfect set up for a run at the title. However the squad is proving to be very injury prone and clearly players are needed to close the gap between a top four finish and the title.
First we should look at just how many injuries they have amassed this year. Currently Sadio Mane, Danny Ings and Jordan Henderson are all sidelined, three crucial players for the Merseyside team. Daniel Sturridge has been missing for countless spells this season and other big attacking players including Phillippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana have been crocked. Defensively Joe Gomez, a great young prospect, is now trying to return to his Charlton form after over a year out, and a few injuries amongst other defenders have meant an irregular back four line up. Liverpool only have 3 players in the top 100 players for minutes played, top of the league Chelsea have 8, with only bottom of the league Sunderland having less (1).
I said Liverpool’s defence has been inconsistent and this has hindered their ability to bond as a unit. Not only have the six other teams in the top seven kept more clean sheets than them with Tottenham having the most (17) but even relegated Middlesbrough have kept more than The Reds ten (11). Only Arsenal have conceded more goals in the top seven and Tottenham have conceded almost half the amount. To improve this Liverpool need a more settled defence. Excluding Nathaniel Clyne, you would have to drop down to 124th position to find the next recognised Liverpool defender in this seasons player tackles table, Dejan Lovren.
Task One: Purchase a central defender
Chelsea also have been rumoured to be interested in the Middlesbrough defender but it would be better for international football and the player himself to head to Anfield. With English internationals like Lallana, Sturridge, Clyne, Milner and Henderson in the ranks he would be in with a big chance of making the World Cup Squad. Liverpool would probably guarantee him playing time and no Middlesborough player has played more minutes giving Liverpool one player they do not have to worry about. He is in the top ten for Blocks, Last Man Tackles and Clearances this season. Transfermarkt.com rate him at £5.1 Million but with the fact he is English he would probably cost double that. But even at £15 million you would be purchasing a 24-year-old with a promising long career ahead of him.
Midfield is one position Liverpool are loaded with class. Henderson is in the top ten for passes and touches, as is James Milner who has also converted the most penalties this season. Half of Liverpool’s goals have been scored by the midfield and thats excluding Mane, who could be classed as a midfielder or a forward.
Upfront however Liverpool need a Striker. When Luis Suarez left, a void appeared that has not been filled, and my solution is an odd one. For me, they need a ‘Suarez-esque’ player who has the hunger for silverware and to play in the Champions League. Two clubs in that top 6 will miss out on the that privilege and the most likely is Arsenal. So Liverpool may not even have to cross seas to find that player.
Task Two: Purchase a striker
Alexis Sanchez has already hinted at a move away from the Emirates and he fits the profile of the player I think The Reds need. Versatile, fast and relentless, those for me are all the qualities that made Suarez a master in the Premier League. He also isn’t too bad in front of goal. He has averaged 16 goals a season in the three he has been with Arsenal and could have even more if given the central role at Anfield. He is also effective in the Champions League having scored 11 at his time in England and so could be a great addition to Merseyside’s return into Europe’s most sought after Trophy. The club will have to dig deep with the player probably valued around 55 million, but with the revenue from the Champions League group stages and television payouts, even more if Liverpool could progress further, he is definitely worth the investment.
Task Three: Trust in Klopp
The Normal One took three seasons to take Dortmund to the promised land at the summit of the Bundesliga and five to reach the Champions League Final. He took Mainz into the Bundesliga for the first time in his first Managerial Job and Qualified for the 05/06 Uefa Cup in his third season. He took them too the last qualifying round where they were unfortunate enough to bump into Sevilla who went on to win that year. That really isn’t bad considering Sevilla are the most successful team in the Competition’s history. His work with Mainz laid the foundation for the club to become a mainstay in the Bundesliga and this year they reached the group stage of the Europa League for the first time.
Although Klopp finished runner-up in both the League Cup and the Europa League in his first season, that shows good promise going forward. He has only lost 21 games with Liverpool since he began his tenure, a very promising figure and he is only likely to keep improving. I think he can emulate his success in what appears to be a magical trend of third season success. He has a higher win percentage than in his first two season with Dortmund so prepare for fireworks.
Conte, I believe its time you prepared yourself. Guardiola, time to feel the heat of your Bundesliga rival once again and Special One, time to find out that you don’t have to be special to win the Premier League, normal will do just fine.
All stats taken from Premierleague.com