Missing Pieces to the Liverpool Puzzle
Since Football began again, it is no secret that Liverpool have been lacklustre.
Paling in comparison to the pre-lockdown versions of themselves, they have dropped 10 points in their last 7, double the amount they had dropped in their previous 29 games this season. Something obviously isn’t quite clicking for the Reds right now, but exactly what that might be is tricky. Could it be something as simple as us taking our eye off the ball a little ever since the title was confirmed to be coming to Anfield? That’s certainly plausible. However, I think there might be some more to it, and I have garnered some possible explanations.
It became painfully obvious to me during last night’s defeat at the Emirates, that this side has an issue when a team prevents us from getting around the sides of them. Usually we are heavily reliant on our flying fullbacks for the majority of our creativity, hence them providing 24 assists this year in the league alone, just under 34% of our entire teams assists this season. If a team cut them off though, by either overloading the wings with wing backs, or packing the box full to nullify our crosses, we struggle to create. As was the case last night.
Clearly then the onus falls on our midfield players to make something happen, which is a issue we have. The 2 midfielders that started in the advanced roles last night, Chamberlain and Gini, have a combined 0 assists together in the Prem this season. That is simply not good enough. This is where I feel a player like Thiago for example, would help massively.
Thiago is a tremendous passer of the football. Someone who has never watched football before in their whole life, and knows more about gardening than the beautiful game itself, could see that if they watched him for 5 minutes. In the Bundesliga, he averaged 76 passes per game this season, with an accuracy of 91%. This is higher than any of our current midfielders. He creates 1 chance a game and completes 3.6 dribbles per match, way more than anyone we currently have in our midfield ranks, at a success rate of 86% too, which is again higher than any of our players. Whilst not renowned for grabbing assists, he is more often than not the player to grab the ‘hockey assist’, drawing a defender out of position before sliding somebody through. He would provide a totally alternate dimension to our attacks, and by taking the focus away from our fullbacks slightly, maybe even increasing their output.
Another area that I feel we need to draw some attention to is our attacking options off the bench. This has, of course, been talked about many times by the likes of Jamie Carragher for instance, but there’s a reason for that. Not just last night, but so many times Liverpool will need a goal, and we turn to our bench and see Divock Origi.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love Divock Origi as much as anyone who is a fan of this club. I love his blonde dye. I love how abnormally large he looks on the field. I love how he provided me with some of my fondest football memories. Ultimately though, he isn’t the best footballer in the world. Besides him, we have Minamino, who is yet to really get going in a Liverpool shirt, so I’m not going to pass judgement on him just yet. Following that leaves Shaqiri, who has had about as many hair transplants as he has appearances for Liverpool this season, and I don’t know if we can rely on him staying fit to be a viable option.
Consequently, it looks as though Liverpool will have to strengthen this area, if we are to build on our success. I immediately look to Adama Traore from Wolves. Another man who has been linked with us, admittedly with not much substance, Traore would fit our side like a glove. Operating mainly from the right, but sometimes as a striker too, he is a frightening sight for any defender. Having by far his most productive season of his career with 4 goals and 9 assists, the Wolves wide man brings blistering pace, and abnormal levels of strength. Bringing him on as a sub after our front 3 have ran at a defence for 70 minutes almost seems unfair. The problem is though, he won’t be cheap, and Liverpool don’t seem to have much money to be splashing around right now.
An alternative to Traore, and perhaps a little cheaper, is Jonathan David of Genk. The Canadian is 20 years old, and after a great season where he scored 18 goals and got 8 assists too, he might be looking for a move to another club. Capable with both feet, favouring his right, David can play all across the front 3, even operating in a number 10 behind the striker at times too. If David does fancy a move away, Genk may look to cash in on their starlet, and we should be all over it.
If we have even less money available to us then the little that I think we will, we might even look internally for improvements. Rhian Brewster is the player I am referring to. During his loan spell at Swansea, he has knocked in 9 goals in 18 games for the Championship side, and could be ready for the step up to the Premier League. Although, I fear this might be premature, and he is better off going out on loan for one more season.
With all the noise currently coming out the club pointing towards us not having a lot of money to spend this summer, it seems foolish to suggest that we sign a load of new players. If we raise funds from selling a few though, such as Grujic and Lovren, we might have enough to do some damage in the market. I think if we can pick up any of the players I have mentioned, or any similar, we will be in a much better spot heading into next season. These changes could be the difference in what promises to be yet another exciting season for Liverpool fans.