Aaron Curry explains who he thinks have been Liverpool’s best performers this season.
When Jürgen Klopp took the reins at Liverpool FC, he stated that each person associated with the Merseyside outfit needed to change – from “doubters to believers”. Of course, he was referencing the fans, but I think it had a much deeper meaning that was initially overlooked by everyone. The players. To grow as a football club, the players must first trust their own abilities.
Known worldwide for his ability to modify average talents into world-beaters, he would instil this practice into a great deal of the Liverpool squad. None more so than Adam Lallana, Philippe Coutinho and Joël Matip have benefited from this. Not to say that they were average talents beforehand, but they have all undoubtedly added extra elements to their game this season.
These three players are the epitome of Klopp’s style of management, pushing the team to victory on several occasions.
For the high-energy, stamina-draining, gengenpressing style of play, it is crucial that there is a high level of fitness; and there is nobody fitter at the club than Adam Lallana. According to fellow Englishman, Jermain Defoe on ‘Goals on Sunday’, he said:
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“Apparently when Klopp went in, I think the first question he asked the staff was, ‘Who’s the fittest player at the club?'”
Perhaps this is the main reason why Lallana has been such a key figure in Klopp’s team over the season. He has featured in every game possible (unless he was carrying an injury), and ultimately, he makes the team tick. Constantly winning possession back in the final third, he is a quintessential element.
In addition to suiting Klopp’s play style, he has also begun to contribute more to the team’s goals. He was criticised last season for not having enough effect in front of goal, and for a twenty-three million pound signing, it was underwhelming. Last season, he finished with a total of seven goals and eight assists, whereas this season he already has three goals and five assists.
Combining Lallana’s engine and stamina with a change of position to a central midfielder was a piece of genius from the German manager. It has seen his importance to the starting 11 sky-rocket, with him just being a squad player in the last campaign.
Another player who has played out of his skin this season is recently-injured, Philippe Coutinho. Being sidelined for approximately six weeks with ankle ligament damage, it came at a point where he was in unstoppable form. Having 6 goals and 5 assists respectively to his name already summarises the form the Brazilian found himself in.
Setting Liverpool’s goal account alight in impressive fashion, a sublime free-kick away at the Emirates was only the beginning of a purple patch (We don’t speak about Burnley). The man who collected nearly all the awards at the end of last season was proving exactly why he did just that.
It would not have come as a surprise to any Liverpool fan to find that he was producing silky skills and scoring goals at the click of a finger. Klopp had obviously noticed the 24-year-old’s talent and therefore nurtured him. Nurtured him to the point that people are labelling him “world-class.” Alongside Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, I would say he has been the best performing player in the Premier League, this season.
The only negative from his performances is that it alerts the world’s biggest clubs to his presence. None less so than Barcelona, a team which we have recently shipped Luis Suarez to. Despite this, in the short-term, Coutinho is a player who could make the difference between us challenging for the title or not. After all, he didn’t adopt the “Magician” nickname for nothing.
The most obvious outstanding performers are always attacking threats, but I, like many others, have highlighted Joël Matip as one of Liverpool’s best players so far. Arriving from FC Schalke 04 as a free transfer, he was placed into the first team for the trip away to Spurs.
Since this league debut, only three sides have conceded fewer goals than Liverpool. In addition, no side in Europe’s top five leagues has conceded fewer shots on goal than us. This is something we have Matip to thank for, as we have always been a side that struggle with attaining those valuable clean sheets.
Our attacking roster has no trouble in scoring at will, but what will ultimately decide our trophy count will be the number of goals our opponents score against us. The best form of attack is defence and the 25-year-old, Cameroonian personifies this. His partnership with Dejan Lovren will only strengthen as the season progresses.
Recollecting the fact that he was a free transfer – for a centre back who is good with the ball at his feet as well as being able to defend properly – was a steal.
The Reds have worked as a unit this season, which is testimony to being in the semi-final of the EFL Cup, and second in the Premier League table. These three players have been the shining lights in a promising season, which will hopefully end with silverware.