A recent debate amongst fans and in the media has been whether Liverpool FC should revamp their squad or work with the assets they have. The fact that the January transfer window is now open and recent results have been poor has provided a catalyst for this argument.
The main issue at the moment is that Liverpool are struggling to score goals. They have scored just 22 goals in 20 league matches, the worst ratio in the clubs history. Currently, the average shot success in the Premier League is around 14%, Liverpool’s is only 7% (Gags Tandon, Anfield Index, 2016. )There are several factors for this, injuries to three of four strikers at the club, players learning the new tactical systems and the highlighted poor conversion rates. It is obviously apparent that Christian Benteke does not suit the style of play and contradicts the intentions of those behind him. Yet, despite this he is the only option to play a recognised striker at the moment. Liverpool need a striker who runs in behind, plays on the edge of the last defender. A hard working striker with pace and intelligence. The club has not replaced Luis Suarez with this type of striker and bewilderingly have signed target men. I would be tempted in January to enquire about such a striker. Given that there is no consistency amongst the top teams in the Premier League this season, a top 4 finish could potentially be grabbed with the addition of a short term striker. I believe this would dramatically alter both performances and results.
Looking more into the long term strategy is where the argument is divided amongst fans. Is this current squad good enough for consistent success? I think Simon Mignolet is a good shot stopper, but does not command the box with confidence. I would look for an upgrade; there are plenty of young aspiring goalkeepers in Europe, Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and Bernd Leno to name a couple. The defence could do with some individual improvements, Mammadou Sakho stands out as a natural leader for me, and an athletic partner for him would be desirable. Joel Matip has been mentioned in the media and I would see him as a good buy on a free transfer. The centre of the pitch is strong, providing both Jordan Henderson and Emre Can are fit. They play together well and provide both high energy levels and box to box qualities. The problem is within the squad depth, there are a lack of options and too many players who aren’t consistent enough for Liverpool FC. James Milner cannot justify a £150,000 a week wage with his contribution to the team, I blame previous management for this. Joe Allen and Lucas Leiva have been inconsistent this season, Allen does a job but many have questioned whether he is good enough for Jürgen Klopp’s team. I think many would agree that more quality is required in the central areas, providing different options.
Finally, I want to discuss whether the attacking midfielders are part of the current problem or if they are good enough for the club going forward. Adam Lallana, Phillippe Coutinho, Jordan Ibe and Roberto Firmino, I think we can improve in this area. Although I do recognise that they all bring something different to the team. Ibe is very direct and is more a natural winger. The remaining three prefer central positions and all are very good at pressing. The differences are their decisions on the pitch. Jürgen Klopp will encourage these players to adapt their game to his style and coach them in a certain way. Yes, there are better number 10’s in Europe than Firmino and Lallana, but I think we can work with these players and elevate their play to a new level. They have to prove themselves this season.
The January transfer window is a difficult market to find value and quality and therefore I believe the majority of changes will be made in the summer. I agree with this projected strategy and the fans will have a better idea of what alterations need to be made.
Written by Ben Wade (@brwade123)