Nathaniel Phillips made just his third Premier League start of his Liverpool career against Newcastle United on Wednesday night and whilst he helped the Reds to a clean sheet, the former Bolton Wanderers man was caught out on a number of occasions.
The 23-year-old was dominant in the air against the Toon and solid defensively but there were several occasions where his lack of pace was exposed, with Callum Wilson and Joelinton both getting in behind the defender, which could be a cause for concern for Jurgen Klopp.
The Reds are usually able to deploy a high line in their defence, with the pace of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez meaning they were rarely caught out with balls over the top but with both set to miss much of the season, Klopp has been forced to promote the likes of Phillips and 19-year-old Rhys Williams into his first team.
Neither Phillips or Fabinho are blessed with pace and had Newcastle been more attacking in the game on Wednesday night, you feel that they could’ve exposed this weakness in the Reds’ defence much more effectively.
With Joel Matip set to miss three weeks of action with his latest injury, Klopp has just Phillips and Williams available as natural centre-backs in his squad.
Liverpool’s next two fixtures see them take on Southampton away from home, before facing second-placed Manchester United at Anfield, and both of these teams possess a lot of pace in attack, which could cause serious problems for this Reds defence.
Therefore, despite Phillips being labelled a “monster” by Klopp after his impressive Premier League debut against West Ham earlier in the season, the German manager must convince sporting director Michael Edwards to bring in another more experienced centre-back in the upcoming January transfer window.
It has been suggested that, despite Liverpool’s injury concerns, the Reds won’t look to bring in a centre-back next month. However, if they don’t it seems only a matter of time before Premier League sides begin to exploit this lack of pace in the Liverpool defence, which could lead to Klopp’s side slipping off the top of the table.