Has Klopp put together the best Liverpool Squad in Premier League History?

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For years now Liverpool have been overly reliant on certain players. The Reds have had decent starting XI’s, teams capable of beating the very best on their day, but it’s hard to sustain a top 4/title challenge when your squad players aren’t anywhere near the requisite level. It’s corrosive to the team. The lack of ability from the players coming in eats away at the quality on show and before you realise the squad has dropped a level or two.

Jay Spearing and David Ngog coming on to replace Javier Mascherano and Fernando Torres. Then there was a time that Fabio Borini came in to replace the suspended Luis Suarez. Or even Phil Coutinho being replaced by Jordon Ibe after picking up a knock.

The drop off in quality is hard to ignore and Liverpool suffered because of it.

Yet this season it’s been different. Yes, it’s only been five league games and yes there are some glaring weaknesses in the squad. But Liverpool faced Arsenal without Daniel Sturridge and scored four goals. They went to Burnley without £30 Million man Sadio Mane but were still able to field Sturridge, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho in attack. They then faced reigning Premier League Champions Leicester without Philippe Coutinho yet managed to dismantle them and romp to a 4-1 victory which could’ve been 6/7 had it not been for Kasper Schmeichel. Finally, Liverpool went to Stamford Bridge without the poster boy for Jurgen Klopp’s ‘press, harass, stifle’ tactics, Roberto Firmino, but were able to come away as 2-1 victors.

In each of the games this season Liverpool have been without one of the four attackers that almost every single Liverpool fan would start. But Jurgen Klopp’s switch in starting formations at the beginning of the season threw a spanner in the works for many.

Gone was the 4231 formation associated with Klopp and in it’s place a 4321 formation. Not a drastic change stylistically but the addition of an extra midfielder meant the Reds sacrificed playing an attacking player. It basically means when all players are fit, if Klopp persists with this formation, Liverpool will have two of Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino or Philippe Coutinho on the bench at all times. When was the last time Liverpool were in such a luxurious position? All five have the ability to be game changers and match winners.

It’s not just in the attack that Liverpool are spoilt for choice. In midfield, barring injuries, Liverpool will be able to have at least one of Jordan Henderson, Emre Can, Adam Lallana or Gini Wijnaldum on the bench in certain matches. As much as a cult hero Lucas appears to be he’s not the best suited midfielder for a Klopp system, all four of those aforementioned players are monumental upgrades on the Liverpool no.21 and having that calibre of playing coming off the bench in games puts Liverpool in an unfamiliar situation. To go from having Joe Allen and Lucas as the substitute midfielders to having two of Marko Grujic, Can, Lallana, Henderson or Wijnaldum gives Liverpool a whole other dimension.

The defence is by no means perfect, what with James Milner the current incumbent of the starting left-back position, but centrally Liverpool haven’t looked this strong in years. Both Ragnar Klavan and Joel Matip have impressed many since singing this summer, both seem to suit what Klopp wants from his defenders and both aren’t Martin Skrtel. It means Liverpool have four five centre-backs in Sakho, Lovren, Matip, Klavan and Lucas and the drop off in their quality isn’t glaringly noticeable. Obviously there’s a marked difference in say Sakho and Lucas but the backline can still function without the former. Nobody is saying they’re world class defenders but they’re inifitnely better than the likes of Kyrgiakos, Coates and Caulker, aren’t they? All of whom were at one stage the third/fourth choice centre-back at the club.

Goalkeepers have been a troublesome position for Liverpool ever since I can remember. With the exception of Jose Reina the Reds have always had a dodgy ‘keeper as first choice and then an amateur (to put it politely) ‘keeper as back-up. With Loris Karius now here we have a ‘keeper suited to Klopp’s style of wanting to play out from the back as well as an abundance of ability between the sticks now but not only that he has the ability to improve in the future to potentially be one of Europe’s best. If all goes to plan then Liverpool’s first choice ‘keeper for the past three seasons will be their back-up. Not exactly the worst situation to be in, is it?

Many supporters, myself included, have spent time looking bemoaning the obvious weaknesses in the squad that Klopp failed to address in the window without actually acknowledging just how well he’s done to put together this squad with an impressive array of talent and depth. We’ve went to Stamford Bridge, the Emirates and White Hart Lane and picked up results without Mamadou Sakho, Emre Can or Loris Karius playing a single minute, all three would be in the strongest XI for many of the clubs supporters but it’s testament to the squad Klopp has pieced together that they’ve achieved these results.

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  1. After reading this I suggest some people need to keep their feet on the ground. Damn silly euphoria after a mere handful of matches. There’s a long long way to go.

  2. Pointing out the options we have now compared to recent years? – hardly ‘damn silly euphoria’

    Agree with the author that we have managed to pick up good points without all the perceived ‘key’ men on the field and that bodes well for us over the season

  3. I appreciate there is a sense of Europhia after a short amount of time.. but why not? The author is spot on, i cant remember when we last had a great looking bench. Always a strong starting 11 but what beyond that? No disrespect to the players im listing but Liverpool should not have players like Brad Jones / Adam Bogdan even as backup.. coates/kyriagos… insua/kelly.. voronin/ngog .. the list goes on. We now have players like Grujic, Origi, Klavan, Karius. Options in all positions that we did not have before. I remember times we got injuries and we only had 1 or 2 back ups rather then the 3/4 we have now. Yes its to early to say we will challenge for the title etc, and we must show up agaisnt the lower teams … but we smashed Arsenal and Leicester. Beat one of the title favourites Chelsea.. should have beaten Tottenham comfortably. We are a force to be reckoned with in attack and midfield and the defence seems to slowly be solidfying which has been lacking for a long long time. I am calm, but hugely optimistic this season. Watch every team play if you get the chance, and you will not see a team have more passion together and come the final whistle then we have at the minute. COME ON !

  4. 08/09 Season Starting XI (4-2-3-1) – Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Agger, Aurelio, Mascherano, Alonso, Kuyt, Gerrard, Riera, Torres

    Likes of Hyypia, Skrtel, Insua, Kelly, Lucas, Benayoun, Babel & Keane to come in if needed. Sub keeper Diego Cavalieri was also capped by Brazil so wouldn’t call him an amateur

    Listen Klopp’s working wonders & long may it last but as mentioned above lets keep our feet on the ground!

  5. Just to go slightly off topic. What about the kids that are playing in the U23s! Woodburn, Ejaria, Ojo, Brannagan and even Ings all have a shout of of being bench players and even starters for the first team. No more deadwood squad players but more quality players. The future is bright!!

  6. “Euphoria” yeah you guys picked perfect vocab but my opinion is somewhat opposite. why cant we see quality in squad? I can smell now that we can beat anyone in the league. Good movie shows symptom from the very beginning. And yes liverpool has the
    Capacity to be contenders and not a loss from 5 away fixtures is consistency. Burney was an exception.

  7. Good article, I agreewith the author. Alil harsh on Joe Allen. Gone are the days of Rickie Lambert (although he looked like a good guy) being the striker on the bench or a plan B.

  8. No doubt up front we have a lot of options and all have very good quality. Only thing which I would like to see up front for variety sake is we have a proper left winger the way we have Mane on the right. Ideally would be someone like Reus and perhaps we would need to let go of Sturridge to accommodate such a change. So far he has been the weakest link up front.

    In midfield we also have good options but need a better DM. Can can eventually be that type of player and so can Grujic tho I think it will be next season we see his complete development.

    Defensively we were better in Rafas era with Carragher, Agger, Skrtel and Hyppia. 4 solid CBs. It would hv been interesting how Carragher and Agger would hv fit in with Klopps style of play. Matip and the others are not as good as the aforementioned names but let’s not forget under Rafa we were a more defensive team and played 2 holding midfielders. In LB also we had aurelio and riise. Rb was a weakness but Steve Finnan was a solid RB.

    GKs if we have Karius and Mignolet both are good quality keepers.

    All in all can be argued but too early a judgement to make. On paper may look so.

  9. While some people may say that we need to keep our feet on the ground and so on and the post about the team from 2009 season. Here’s our starting eleven vs Swansea in October 2012:

    Jones, Robinson, Coates, Carragher, Henderson, Shelvey, Allen, Cole, Assaidi, Yesil, Downing.

    So the premise of the article is still correct in my opinion, we’ve a much stronger squad than we’ve had in the past 5-6 years although the starting 11 perhaps not quite as strong player for player than in some seasons.

  10. Despite the quality in the squad, has anyone noticed their are no direct replacements for our best players in d event of injury or being poached off our hands by likes of Madrid n Barca.. the look immediately lacks creativity d moment phil is subsituted. lfc has only won a couple of matches sadio hasnt played in since his move from southampton. i think Alen halilovic n adama Traore might be very options for decision makers at the club to consider.
    with proper coaching, i believe traore is an upgrade of sadio cos hes stronger, alot more skillful and just as quick. plus he has epl experience. we wont lack that drive and directness that sadio brings to our team in his absence. Leon bailey is good option as well.
    Alen Halilovic, is an incredible talent and hes just twenty. i think he has almost the same skill sets as coutinho so we need him.. please buy.. #BuyHalilovic #BuyTraore


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