Dave Davis explains why Jurgen Klopp has a headache that he won’t be complaining about.
The win at Chelsea proved that Liverpool had something that not every fan was sure they did, the character to grind a result out. The Reds were sumptuous in the first half but seemed happy to sit back and play on the counter for the final 45. Every player to a man made a contribution last night and Jurgen Klopp has what he’s always wanted – a headache when it comes to selection.
Roberto Firmino would have been the first name on the team-sheet you’d have fancied. The Brazilian attacker often plays as a number 9 when Klopp sets up against the bigger teams as his ability to relentlessly press causes defenders problems.
His form in 2016 has been sensational and the former Hoffenheim player already has three goals in just five games this season. When it was announced he had a minor groin strain, a Twitter meltdown commenced but he didn’t seem hugely missed against Chelsea. Firmino is a top player and crucial for us, but he’s not impossible to replace.
What’s maybe stranger is that if you went back twelve months, then you would have believed we had to have Coutinho and Sturridge fit to have any chance in a big game. They were the only two we believed the opposition would fear and their unique link-up meant they had to start.
The little magician was on the bench against Leicester as Firmino and Mane ran the show and wasn’t really missed in any case. Sturridge did show flashes of his former self as his regular sprints and sumptuous back heel for Mane made many think he could be ready to return to the head of our attack. Klopp had previously preferred Firmino in the big games and it’s debatable whether Sturridge would have got the nod if he had been fit.
We do have to focus on Sadio Mane though. The Senegalese attacker has added a new dimension to Klopp’s team with his pace, direct running and work-rate for the team.
Mane already has two goals and three assists in a short period of time and is goals against Arsenal and Leicester have already made him a favourite with many Reds’ fans. What was heart-warming last night though was seeing the 24-year-old track back and his interception from Eden Hazard at the crucial moment would have no doubt pleased Klopp.
Mane may be the one attacker most likely to feature due to his assets and the defeat to Burnley may be emphasised how one-dimensional the team can be without him.
Origi was brought on for Sturridge early in the second half. Klopp claimed this was due to Sturridge being unable to sprint anymore and we needed a forward to push up so we could play in behind.
Origi should have made it 3-1 late on, despite it being an excellent save from Courtois and it does seem as though the Belgian has started the season as the third choice option up-front. Spare a thought for Danny Ings though, who must be wondering where he will get a game at this rate.
Midfield isn’t the forgone conclusion it once was either. Adam Lallana is reborn under Jurgen Klopp in his new midfield three position, Wijnaldum had his best game for us to date and Henderson rightly took the man of the match award.
The absence of Emre Can hasn’t been felt as much as many suggested it would and it will be interesting to see if his fellow countryman puts him straight back in. Klopp seems a fan of Henderson in the No.6 position right now and the Captain is responding with performances and an unbelievable strike last night.
The Grujic drums are still beaten by many, but this maybe the time to realise what we have. No-one is guaranteed a spot under Klopp and more importantly, players aren’t being missed despite initial fears. The German is ruthless behind that friendly smile and will always start the team he feels is best for the occasion. The players will have to get used to it quickly or could find themselves on the fringes. It’s about time the manager had this headache.
Could you please take 60 seconds out of your day to vote for Rousing the Kop as the Best New Football Club and Michael Mongie as the Best Young Football Blogger. Simply click on the picture below to take you to the voting form!