Matthew Sinton explains how Liverpool’s squad depth can help cover the cracks that have been revealed by Philippe Coutinho’s injury.
I’m sure that you’re all aware of the injury Philippe Coutinho picked up against Sunderland on Saturday, meaning the Brazilian will be out for an estimated 5-6 weeks. He has enjoyed the best start to a season of his career so far, but especially with the fixtures coming up, life without him should not be as disastrous as many think.
The signings Jurgen Klopp made this summer transformed our squad into one with excellent depth, giving us a lot of very capable players to come off the bench every match. I’m sure he had this in mind when bringing the players in – the likes of Gini Wijnaldum and even young Marko Grujic just add that extra bit of security to the squad which allows us to cope with the injuries of such important players.
We are now left with many different options for the starting lineup in the absence of arguably our best player.
One man who will most certainly be eager to prove himself – both to the manager and to the fans – is Daniel Sturridge. Everyone knows what an excellent striker he is, but the deadly combination of Mane, Coutinho and Firmino in the front three has seen him unable to make his way into the starting eleven. He has scored two braces in the League Cup against Burton Albion and Tottenham, and has been quite unlucky not to grab himself a goal in the league.
He has recently picked up a minor injury that kept him out of Saturday’s game and kept him out of last night’s game against Leeds, but it’s nothing too serious and he should be at least back in the squad for our trip to Bournemouth on Sunday. This is the perfect opportunity for him to prove that he still deserves to start or even, as some would say, save his Liverpool career. There is no doubt that he has goalscoring abilities but the main concern has been that he perhaps doesn’t fit Klopp’s high-pressing system. Can he deliver?
Another player who has made a case for taking that starting spot is Divock Origi. He too had found first-team minutes hard to come by this season, scoring his only two goals in the cup. When he came on for Coutinho on Saturday, he reminded us why we were so excited about him last season and won us the match.
If either of Sturridge or Origi were to become first-choice striker for the time being, it would surely mean pushing Roberto Firmino – our main forward so far this season – out wide – he is more than capable of playing there and seems more suited to a wide role than the two strikers.
Alternatively, Wijnaldum could play on the left – he has been a bit restricted in terms of his attacking play with the deeper role he has been given this season, but we all saw him play further forward for Newcastle last season and he was definitely a goal threat, with 11 Premier League goals.
Even 19-year old Sheyi Ojo could come in if needed, a very talented young winger with bags of pace and, I’m sure, a desire to break into the first team. Other youngsters such as Ejaria, Stewart (I know, he’s 23 now) and Grujic can step into the midfield three if things get desperate, and all can put a shift in. I wish Coutinho all the best in his recovery and hope he can return ahead of schedule, but this is a big chance for a lot of our players.