Although our form has been great, there are still elements of lingering problems, something I think we can all see. Our problems are still a world class goalkeeper, along with a consistent centre back pairing, next to a new left back. Klopp’s possession based attacking and high intensity pressing shadows the abnormally weak back 5, and to be champions you just cannot have this, because at some point in the season, you’ll unravel and throw 9-12 points down the drain. Because of this, although I would become a happiness never seen in the eyes of my family, I don’t see us getting the title this year. Top 4 is the old aged motto and it has to be the next block in the rebuilding of this giant of a club.
But don’t let me dampen your spirit reds… We are still in it, and well, we always have the solace that Leicester won it last year.
“A world-class goalkeeper”… Karius will develop and become a number one, but needs time and honestly we don’t have time. More specifically Mignolet doesn’t have time. It’s a make or break season for Simon, now that the action man German is going to have to sit on the bench, train hard and learn about the pressures of the Premier League. Would I change this in January? I don’t think so. Bringing in Hart on loan would help this season, but the detrimental affect to Mignolet’s make or break season is prolonged yet again, cannot be ignored now.
Hmm… now on to a consistent centre back pairing. My opinion changes on this more times than I would like to admit. Normally I can be calculated and honest and tell you exactly what I think. But for this issue I can tell you what I’m thinking right now, a day after the Sunderland result. Lovren and Matip are pairing wonderfully when they’re both fit, in form and playing, however, when I see their names on the team sheet, it just doesn’t fill me with joy, more trepidation. But maybe that’s because of an erratic GK and a sinkhole waiting to appear on the left. Anyway, they’re staying, along with a welcomed solid Klavan, although including the caveat of him skipping the Christmas period trudging, as it seems he just cannot endure now. Now to the elephant in the room, Sakho, or maybe a baby giraffe is more apt. I’m not interested in why he’s been dropped because quite frankly he’s had the time and still cannot be trusted on the pitch. When he arrived with Ilori, I saw Mama the PSG prodigy, captain and leader, but that just hasn’t happened enough at Anfield, therefore not warranting me to care about whether he stays or goes now (beware Mignolet, this line will soon come to you if nothing changes).
For the LB position, its simple, we need a new one. Moreno just doesn’t seem to get the hang of this defending lark, and just like a wobbly guy between the sticks, it costs us points after points. On the surface, Milner has hidden the gaping hole well, but under the calm waters, it has left a stocky northerner shaped hole in the midfield rotation. I see the only way of fixing this is in the summer and not during the hyper inflated winter, because now we need quality. I will say that a firm opinion of mine is to give a chance and look further a field than what seems to be the Bundesliga now. I’m talking about the gems that are continually snapped up by the mid table teams and then sold on for 20 – 50 million every season (I’m looking at the Van Dijk’s here). Maybe its time we parted with some of the wasted millions on players that can be sold at the same price we buy them, just in case it doesn’t actually work out. For the left back position, I look towards a Robertson of Hull or a Taylor of Leeds. 6 months is long enough to see if these players are good enough for the top.
As we move up the field, to make the next step up of returning to the Champion’s League, we need reinforcements. Central midfield has been good and with the inclusion of Milner next season along with some youth players, I think we’re fine. The issue comes as we move up to the forwards. When Coutinho is out – something which could happen more as he’s targeted or just too quick for a tackle but not a trailing leg – we miss a creativity only seen at the best clubs. Lallana is filling this gap well and honestly its about time, but world-class players are exactly that, world class. Don’t get me wrong, if somebody bids ridiculously for Coutinho, and he wants to go, he’d be out the door. An ideal replacement would be a Dahoud with another Mane/Quincy Promes type player, and with Mane off to the AFCON this type of player could be prematurely purchased. I have to stress that I hope for the life of the club, national team and the premier league as we know it, we do not let our youth players go wasted. I say this here because we still have Ejaria, Ojo, Woodburn and the rest that fill this criteria and should be given a chance.
Centrally the forward line could be fine. Firmino is finally making the spot his own, and Origi is showing glimpses of what could be on the way. But Danny Ings is sadly injury prone it seems, and therefore not someone you can count on to be there when needed. On the other hand yet again (first time with Sakho), I pause and wonder what to write about a player that engulfs me with frustration every time he plays now. Daniel Sturridge. The quality and natural finishing ability was beholden to the world when SAS were in full flow. This season I see somebody who’s scared to run. His turn of pace was a marvel, but now a distant memory to us, or maybe a frightening reminder of time on the sidelines for him. So much hope enlightened my world when Klopp came with previous centre forwards such as Lewandowski and Aubameyang, surely Daniel could make the spot his own. Nope. I hope he realises that it’s his own performances that are the downfall of his stardom and that in the next half of the season he picks him self back up and plays like he used too. If not, it’s time for personal change, unless he’s willing to sit on the bench and be ready when called upon, somehow I doubt it. That leaves us with 2 forwards. Again, summer is the time to remedy this, but a hard-working Suarez type, or a quick Aubameyang type is the way forward in my eyes. If we got someone like Alexis Sanchez or Lacazette from Lyon then I would be happy.