Jonathan Davies discusses how squad depth will help Liverpool with reference to past lack.
Before the game against Chelsea on Friday, Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino was rumoured to have picked up an injury and would miss the game. Last season, especially, there would have been a minor meltdown, however, things are much different now.
With Firmino confirmed injured, it allowed Coutinho to come straight back into the starting line-up after being rested in the previous game against Leicester. The former Inter Milan midfielder played an inch perfect pass to Dejan Lovern at the back post to open the scoring at the Bridge. This illustrates that no matter who Jurgen decides to substitute for an injured or suspended player, they are likely to make an impact.
Thinking back to the 2014/15 season under Brendan, we saw numerous injury problems, the most prominent one being Daniel Sturridge. Even though we had three strikers to fill in for him in Fabio Borini, Rickie Lambert and Mario Balotelli, the three never seemed to click, scoring eight goals between them in one season.
This is nowhere near good enough for a League 2 side let alone Liverpool FC. So in the end, Brendan had to resort to playing then 19-year-old Raheem Sterling, who is naturally a winger, as a striker.
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Sterling played well as a centre forward, but you could tell he was not an out and out number 9, often being bullied off the ball due to his small physique. Sturridge made his long-awaited return from injury which saw him out from October 2014 until mid-February 2015, only for him to get injured a month or so later. This left Brendan having to play Sterling as a striker until things became sour between Raheem and the club due to contract issues, and on the final day of the season we saw Steven Gerrard play up front in a 6-1 defeat to Stoke (although he did bag a goal.)
Even at the start of the 2015/16 season, we had problems due to injuries and suspensions. Coutinho got himself sent off after receiving two yellow cards in a 3-0 home defeat to West Ham. This saw him take no part in a 3-1 loss to United in what was a toothless display at Old Trafford. Without Coutinho, we looked like a mid table team with no attacking threat, however, fast forward a few months to January 2016 and Coutinho pulled his hamstring at the Britannia Stadium which saw him out for a few weeks.
Although it was a blow losing one of our best players to injury, it was not as big of a loss with players like Firmino shining during his absence.
Another example was Divock Origi. With Firmino, who had been Liverpool’s best player for the past 2 months carrying a knock and Sturridge named on the bench, questions were raised when Klopp had the Belgian leading the line in a big European away game against Dortmund. However, Origi proved his critics wrong and scored a vital away goal in a 1-1 draw. This really boosted Origi’s confidence and he went on to score in the return leg and in various other games including a fine header in a 4-0 win in the Merseyside derby.
Now let’s look at this season. For the first time in years, we have two Premier League quality goalkeepers fighting it out for the number one jersey in Karius and Mignolet.
In previous seasons we have had keepers like Brad Jones and Adam Bogdan contending for the starting position, and when Mignolet had his annual bad spell in the season we only had Championship quality goalies to rely on.
We saw in Brad Jones’ performance at Old Trafford and Bogdans’ against Watford that these keepers were not Liverpool quality. This season, however, Klopp has brought in a high standard goalkeeper in Karius to challenge Mignolet and, no doubt, start in his stead.
The midfield area of our team is unquestionably one of the strongest. With new Summer signing Wijnaldum energetically making an impact and Jordan Henderson finally picking up his old form, where does the injured Emre Can fit in?
Last season, he would have walked straight back into our starting eleven easily, but with both Wijnaldum and Hendo in fine form what will be our best line up?
Do we sacrifice one of our many attacking players such as Lallana, which would seem very unfair to him after having such a good run of form? It’s a tough one for Klopp. Then we have the question of who will start up front? Sturridge, Origi or Firmino? Not only that but we also have many options off of the bench, with the likes of Danny Ings, Marko Grujic and the injured Ojo waiting in the wings.
All these players will play at some point in the season, becoming crucial during the congested fixture list around the Christmas period, or in the various cup runs we undergo, not to mention all of the injuries that will occur during the season.
To conclude, during the season we will see many injuries and suspensions. The players who may not be ‘first picks’ need to shine when given the opportunity. The likes of Danny Ings, who is a good player but has other players ahead of him in the pecking order, need to impress when playing. We should be happy that us fans can debate who should start and not have to have a nailed on starting eleven every week.
We should be happy that us fans can debate who should start. It also becomes harder for the opposition to set up against us as they can never be certain who we are going to play.
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