Dave Davis discusses how Liverpool is benefitting from having strength in depth this season.
There’s an old but simple adage in football. Play your strongest team whenever when you can. In the modern age, sports science will tell you that squad rotation is needed and that players need resting at times too. All of these points can be true together and judging by the performance and the way certain players are being used, Jurgen Klopp seems to know his best XI.
Daniel Sturridge has an outstanding scoring record for Liverpool which compares with all the greats. A better than one in two ratio appears to be the hallmark of any top-class frontman and his ability with the ball and ability with his left foot don’t appear to be in question.
What does seem to be right now is how he fits into Klopp’s Liverpool side. Whether it’s injuries or his natural style, Sturridge doesn’t appear to be able to implement the pressing style that Klopp is looking for.
When everyone is fit, it’s clear that Firmino is the player that will start in the central striking berth as it stands. Additionally, it’s worth noting that the 27-year-old is yet to score in the seven league games he’s played this season. He hasn’t played every minute of those, yet the team has played its best football without him on the pitch.
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High hopes were held for Emre Can at the start of the season too and many believed this would be the year the young German took his game to another level. After an extended break due to Germany’s Euro 2016 exploits, Can hasn’t really got going this season. That could be put down to the form of others and trying to gain fitness, yet when he’s played he’s seemed ponderous in possession and the majority of his passes appear to go astray. Again, the team has played its best football without Can on the pitch.
The success of Henderson, Lallana and Wijnaldum as a midfield three was an unexpected bonus at the start of the season despite those who claimed it looked lightweight and wouldn’t be able to compete in the big games. When everyone is fit, however, it’s the lineup that the majority want to see, including Jurgen Klopp.
The front three of Mane, Coutinho and Firmino was recently called the most dangerous in the league by Alan Shearer. While you could debate this, these three have given us all the ingredients required with their pressing, interchangeability and knack for finding the back of the net. Mane brings that blistering pace that was missing last season and direct running while the Reds’ two Brazilians have the guile required to unlock defences.
Sturridge and Can may not be the only ones who have to accept their current role as the likes of Origi struggles to get minutes, whilst Danny Ings can’t even make the bench at the moment. Grujic will have to be patient as will the likes of Ojo and even Gomez as they make their way back from injuries.
The key point is that this is exactly what should be happening at Anfield. The talent in reserve is now looking immense and the likes of Sturridge, Can and others didn’t expect to find themselves in this position.
The old adages are usually true and what’s best for the team has to come first. The manager has a pleasant ruthlessness that certain players may be starting to feel and it’s up to them to force their way in or nothing will change. Long may it continue.
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