In many respects, Liverpool were well equipped in the attacking department last season. Philippe Coutinho on the left wing, Sadio Mane on the right and Roberto Firmino through the middle, The Reds caused teams havoc on the counter-attacking.
Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge provided Jurgen Klopp with some rotational options, particularly in the closing stages of the season in which Sturridge came back from the injury table to help secure a top-four finish and return to the Champions League.
However, questions remained over the depth in the final third – particularly when Sadio Mane jetted off on international duty and later suffered a season-ending injury against Everton. Liverpool lost their previous momentum and seemed to hit a brick wall against low-block defences, almost succumbing to a late charge from Arsenal.
So how is the attack shaping up for the new season?
A lack of width has long been a problem for Liverpool, particularly without Sadio Mane in the side. With James Milner operating in the left-back role, The Reds often lacked the ability to hog the touchline and stretch the game out wide. Milner would cut into the central area and either produce an aimless cross or run straight into traffic.
Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana were very much the same, not sticking out wide and offering Liverpool another avenue of attack, thereby exemplifying the need for more quality in the wide areas. Consequently, a lot of the emphasis fell Nathaniel Clyne’s way, cannoning forward down the right-hand side to provide something that was so absent on the opposite flank.
It became an increasingly hard task to break down defensively resolute sides without the Senegalese international. However, this summer has seen Liverpool address one of the main weaknesses in their current side. Joining for a club-record fee, Mohamed Salah will give the team that extra bit of quality out wide.
Blessed with acceleration and flair, the Egyptian winger will be an ideal asset to use against weaker opposition while contributing to an already threatening counter-attack against the top-six. 19 goals in all competitions last season underline his end product while averaging 0.5 assists per game.
Salah has already displayed his lightening pace during Liverpool’s pre-season tour of Hong Kong and adding him to the ranks will inject acceleration and directness to the left-hand side with Mane set to build on an impress first campaign at Anfield.
Although widely tipped for a move away this summer, Daniel Sturridge now seems destined to remain at Liverpool for another year after Jurgen Klopp pointed to the cost of replacing such a quality forward.
His fitness issues mean he’s not a figure Liverpool can rely upon week after week, but he did show his value in the top-four run in. Against West Ham, Sturridge gave Jurgen Klopp a different avenue to explore with a 4-2-2 diamond formation. His movement and precision in front of goal is shoulders above most strikers in the Premier League.
Should Klopp be able to introduce a regime to manage his fitness over the course of the season, Sturridge could have a major part to play – particularly in the Champions League.
Roberto Firmino is the No.1 choice up front but there were times last season he struggled to show a cutting edge in front of goal. Now back among Europe’s elites and vying for some silverware, Firmino can ill-afford to continue that trend next season.
Meanwhile, Divock Origi has showed clear signs of promise since joining from Lille, with consistency now his biggest issue. The Belgian averaged just 0.9 take-ons last season and a shot accuracy of 48% – both a huge drop off from 2015/16 in which he achieved an accuracy of 71% and 1.87 take-ons.
Origi has struggled to build up any kind of momentum lately, occupying a peripheral role in the side. Giving away possession a little too easily and struggling to stand up against physical defences, the 22-year-old still has a lot to learn in his development.
But a new season will bring new opportunities. With a busier fixture list, Jurgen Klopp will need to rotate his squad and Origi could fulfil a squad role next season. He’s shown the qualities needed to become a top striker in the future – now he needs to make good of the opportunities and put a disappointing season behind him.
The signing of Dominic Solanke will add further depth for Jurgen Klopp this season, with the Chelsea youngster failing to get the first-team opportunities many expected him to.
Despite his progress stalling in recent seasons after a string of loan-moves, Solanke clearly has raw talent at his fingertips. His involvement in England’s Under-20s World Cup is evidence of just that, earning the Player of the tournament and Golden Boot.
Solanke’s ability to hold up the play and bring his teammates into the game will be a useful tool for Liverpool this season while his tireless work rate on and off the ball make him a good fit for Klopp’s gegenpressing system.
Like Salah, he has shown what he can offer this season, netting his first goal for the club in the Premier League Asia Trophy against Crystal Palace. A sharp turn of the defender gave Solanke the space to have a quick look up before rifling the ball into the net – an impressive finish to say the least.
His arrival will raise questions about Danny Ings’ future. Recovering from two ACL injuries, Ings has yet to be given the chance to truly establish himself at Liverpool, particularly under Jurgen Klopp.
His work-rate and eye for goal could make him a useful asset in the domestic cup competitions, but given the depth in attack, it’s unlikely he’d feature heavily in the Premier League or Champions League. Competition for places will only increase year on year, and if Ings can get himself fit for the season, it’ll be interesting to see how Klopp utilises him.
As you can see, Liverpool have plenty of options in the final third for the upcoming season. Securing Mohamed Salah will have plugged a real weakness out wide and relieved the pressure on Mane, while (hopefully) helping to rid of Liverpool’s problems against low-block defences.