Has Jurgen Klopp turned his back on the need for out and out strikers? I’m asking myself this question now having earlier in the summer written an article here concluding that liverpool would buy a new striker if Benteke was sold.
I was wrong. And having watched the first six league games this season I can see why the manager decided not to. The departure of Christian Benteke left Liverpool with a compliment of thre recognised strikers in Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi and Danny Ings. Origi and Ings in my opinion need more time to develop and learn their game under manager Jürgen Klopp before being held responsible for our attacking performances, thus leaving only an injury prone Sturridge to hold the line and carry the burden. So I thought.
A lot has been made so far of the amount of goals we have scored especially compared to last season. Sixteen goals so far as it stands. Nine of those coming at home and seven away.
I’ve spoken recently also about our inability to break down the so called smaller teams who set up a packed defence especially at Anfield. Thus I reckon Klopps response to such problems he witnessed last season was to bring in attacking midfield players who can break through those set lines and break games open. Hence the arrival of Saudi Mané and the more surprising the purchase of Georgina Winjaldum from Newcastle. The later not been seen by a lot of fans as what we really needed on midfield, most crying out for the club to buy a defensive midfielder to protect a leaky defence. The transfer widow closed with a lot of fans bemused and quite angry that the manager didn’t actually go that route even though the much mentioned Mahmood Dahoud was apparently trailed all summer by the club.
The shape of the team now has a packed midfield with players who can interchange and break forward regularly into the box. So many of our goals scored so far have been scored with a large number of players actually in the opposition box. Something we have lacked for seasons now.
The four players that seem to start now regularly are Roberto Firmino, Mané, Philippe Couthino and Adam Lallana. No striker included you will notice.
The stats for these players in our first six games reads as follows; twenty one starts, 1790 mins out of a possible 2160 mins available, eleven goals and six assists. Impressive figures for sure from Liverpool’s midfielders.
A lot of people now talk about Roberto Firmino being Klopps first name on the team sheet every game and actually being a striker. Firmino is not a striker and hasn’t really played that role in Germany either. He did have a huge reputataion in Germany for winning back the ball and interceptions, a part f his game Klopp wild have seen first hand there.
The manager we all know loves his players to work hard off the ball to regain possession as soon as possible, in forward dangerous areas when possible. Adam Lallana has been impressive in this part of the game since the arrival of Klopp. His game has been transformed, regularly posting large distances covered in games. He’s starting to score goals and contributes so much more to this team than we had previously seen from him.
So now we have a midfield that presses the ball, looks forward with their passing, makes the runs off the ball into the box, is scoring a huge amount of goals and is dominating possession in most games.
For me this all due to the manager being ruthless in his approach to change our style of play from a traditional two up top over reliant striker formation. When compared to this flowing interchangeable and fast possession game it’s hard to argue against his plans. We don’t play long balls up front or down the channel now for a striker to chase and try to work wonders on his own with slow support from behind. This is also a fact I believe on the lack of game time for Origi also.
Although he is a talent he had been trained on those similar traits of an up front striver. He works the channels and gets in behind opposition defences. A lot of fans have often called for his introduction in a game or to be I’ve his chance. Klopp has spoken lately as has the player himself about needing to develop his game and to work hard on certain areas. This is a hint at being more mobile to connect with a midfield full of possession. Not to be thinking about running in behind as often and to always support the players next to you.
So as I write this article and having looked over the figures I’m even more convinced now that Jurgen Klopps game plan is not to rely on up top strikers for most games we will have this season. If a midfield can work around and break down a defence set with 2 banks of 4 players then it’s with possible this system is here to stay and our strikers may have to get used to limited playing time and regularly being pulled in favour of another option. Something a player at the age of Daniel Sturridge may not see as good for his future prospects at the club. After all they say it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks..Klopp has all the tricks to teach but I get the feeling he likes new puppies to develop also.
Written by @StephenKing75