One step forward and one step back. That’s what seems to happen at Liverpool these days. After beating Arsenal impressively at the Emirates Stadium on the opening day of the Premier League season, Jurgen Klopp’s side then succumbed to a 2-0 defeat to Burnley.
It was the most possession a Premier League side has ever had in a game in which they lost, which shows Liverpool’s wastefulness and lack of penetration more than it does their ball retention abilities.
But over the window it was a similar story. Liverpool did their business quickly and efficiently, bringing in players who strengthened their squad. But the injury to Loris Karius put their new goalkeeping hope on the injury bench for a few months, whilst Alberto Moreno’s terrible start to the campaign means their lack of a solid left back could cost them this season – it almost did against Arsenal.
Here, Liverpool fans, is the XI you could have had coming back after the international break…
Of all the players you don’t want breaking their hand, it’s a first choice goalkeeper. Actually, scrap that: it’s the first choice goalkeeper whose backup is Simon Mignolet.
But that’s the situation Liverpool are in at the moment. Mignolet is back in goal, hoping to win back the Anfield faithful, whilst Joe Hart moved to Torino on loan. Perhaps Liverpool should have seriously considered a goalkeeper with four Premier League golden glove awards to his name.
Whilst there may be problems at left back, there are no such problems at right back for Liverpool. Clyne is dependable defensively and good going forward – a solid full back, and one who fits the modern game nicely.
Joel Matip isn’t really a summer signing. Not as such. He was brought in at the end of his contract, so everyone knew he was coming to Liverpool – but that means he had a full pre season to get to know the club, the city and his teammates.
And it’s showing. He looks at home in the Liverpool defence, bringing the ball into midfield like he’s been there for years. He looks composed, solid and good on the ball. A quality signing.
The focus for Liverpool was on other areas of the pitch in this window, which is perhaps why Dejan Lovren has been given a reprieve in the centre of the defence.
He hasn’t been the most reliable of centre backs since joining Liverpool from Southampton, but Lovren is established, and if he has a good season he could be the perfect partner for Joel Matip in the heart of the defence.
Liverpool need a left back. Alberto Moreno looks like a serious liability just at the moment, and playing James Milner in that position just isn’t really an option long term.
How Jurgen Klopp must be wishing he’d managed to lure Jonas Hector to Liverpool – he’s experienced, he’s a solid defender, and he’s good on the ball. A definite upgrade on Alberto Moreno.
Wijnaldum was perhaps the brightest spark of a terrible campaign for most of Newcastle United’s dire season last year.
Liverpool, however, have managed to take a good player off their hands, and one who is built to run up and down the pitch in a manner in which Jurgen Klopp must love.
He’s a Klopp player who can play all over the pitch, and one who could thrive at Anfield over the next few seasons.
Liverpool’s captain is the man Jurgen Klopp will want to play alongside Wijnaldum, but you do wonder if both can play together alongside Philippe Coutinho.
When Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson played together as a two, neither were disciplined enough, and in the end that led to a lack of protection in front of the back four. He’ll have to do better this season.
When you have a player of Coutinho’s ability, it’s sometimes hard to keep hold. Liverpool managed, though, and they have a player who can unlock defences, score from distance, and just generally run a game.
Of all the signings Liverpool could have made this summer, Mario Gotze would have been the biggest name. No matter the money paid for Sadio Mane, Mario Gotze is a player with experience and quality, despite not being as active in Bayern Munich’s squad as he could have been over the past few seasons. He would have added a lot of technique and penetration to Liverpool’s attacking midfield, and would have been the player they needed to break down Burnley.
Sadio Mane has been excellent for Liverpool so far this season. With new signings, there’s always a worry they won’t settle properly, ot at least not straight away. But against Arsenal, Mane showed what a good player he is, and against Tottenham Hotspur just before the international break, Mane looked like Liverpool’s biggest threat.
If they can keep Daniel Sturridge fit, Liverpool would have arguably the most gifted striker in the league – at least in terms of natural finishing ability.
His scowl upon not coming off the bench sooner against Tottenham showed his desire to get playing time, though, and when a striker is angry at not coming on, that can often be a good thing. Especially when it’s Daniel Sturridge – he wants to play, and he wants to score for Liverpool.