Should Emre Can or Georginio Wijnaldum start in midfield for Liverpool?

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Georginio Wijnaldum of Liverpool (C) is put under pressure from Joshua Onomah of Tottenaham Hotspur (L) and Eric Dier of Tottenham Hotspur (R) during the EFL Cup fourth round match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on October 25, 2016 in Liverpool, England.
All rights reserved by Jan Kruger/Getty Images Europe

Dave Davis debates who should start in midfield for Liverpool: Emre Can or Georginio Wijnaldum?

Loris Karius is the number one, Jurgen Klopp has confirmed that. Clyne, Matip, Lovren and Milner make up the rest of the back five, Henderson is captain and revelling in that number six role, whilst Lallana looks re-born in the last twelve months. The front three of Mane, Coutinho and Firmino will start when everyone is fit, which Daniel Sturridge is realising quickly. This leaves the Can vs. Wijnaldum debate to be resolved.

In pre-season, we had clamouring from fans for a defensive midfielder to be signed. We look lightweight, the back four need more protection and we need more quality in there. All seem familiar? When Wijnaldum was first brought onto the radar, we all seemed mystified as to why we needed another attacking midfielder. If there’s one thing we don’t need, it’s another attacking midfielder.

Eric Dier of Tottenham battles with Georginio Wijnaldum of Liverpool during the EFL Cup fourth round match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on October 25, 2016 in Liverpool, England.
All rights reserved by Jan Kruger/Getty Images Europe

‘Gini’ has made a decent impression on players and fans alike so far at Anfield, though. The Dutch international has been a key cog so far in a midfield three for Liverpool, in a different role to what many first anticipated. Newcastle fans warned us he could go missing, especially away from home and didn’t really contribute apart from goals.

It’s been the exact opposite so far, though. Wijnaldum has demonstrated his superb engine to go box-to-box and already has two assists. Arguably his best performances have been away at Chelsea and Arsenal.

Marouane Fellaini of Manchester United is closed down by Emre Can of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on October 17, 2016 in Liverpool, England.
All rights reserved by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe

That doesn’t mean he’s a nailed on starter right now, though. Emre Can hasn’t really had a pre-season due to Euro 2016 and it’s been stop-start so far, to say the least. The German international hasn’t been at his usual standard so far and disappointed in the game against Manchester United.

The former Bayer Leverkusen man, however, did improve against West Brom and on another day could have got himself on the scoresheet. Can looks like he’s slowly getting back to the form of last season, but maybe needs more game time.

Jordan Henderson poses with the goal of the month trophy at Melwood Training Ground on October 13, 2016 in Liverpool, England.
All rights reserved by Jan Kruger/Getty Images Europe

Only Jurgen Klopp really seemed to know that Jordan Henderson could be re-invented as a deep-lying midfielder so successfully. That was the role that Can occupied for the majority of last season, so he’s almost starting afresh. Additionally, it seems nearly impossible to remove Adam Lallana from that attacking midfielder role after his recent performances, so Wijnaldum is also starting in a position that isn’t necessarily what he’s used to.

It comes down to personal preference for most fans. Can is the more physical without a doubt and has the greater defensive capabilities on the whole. Wijnaldum is quicker, carries a greater attacking threat and is able to win the ball back in all areas of the pitch. Both can still do what the other one does, but every Red will most likely have their preference by now.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 10, 2016: Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum in action against Leicester City during the FA Premier League match at Anfield.
Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda

You wouldn’t bet either way on this one and an injury or two changes the picture completely. If we enjoy the rub of the green on that side, it could even be that it’s a horses for courses situation depending on who we face.

Wijnaldum would rightly be gutted to be relegated to the bench with more frequency, whilst Can will believe his performances and abilities warrant a starting place. It’s great having these debates under Klopp though, isn’t it!

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