Ben Lovering explains why Liverpool cannot afford to let injuries derail their title challenge and backs Jurgen Klopp’s decision to buy in January.
Liverpool this season have enjoyed a blistering start to the Premier League campaign. Having scored a total of 47 goals this season across all competitions, the Reds are well and truly on fire. This is largely down to the emergence of our new exhilarating front three, one reminiscent of the free-scoring front three of Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling in 2013/14.
Coutinho, Mané and Firmino have been unstoppable as of late, and it is them who have led this early top of the table push this season. However with the recent injury problems that Liverpool have been enduring it leads one to wonder, how far can Liverpool go with their current squad?
Liverpool’s squad depth has been questioned as of late. With youngsters such as Woodburn and Ejaria frequently making the bench on Premier League match days, and the recent injuries to our most important players, such as Coutinho or Lallana, rival fans and critics alike are not short of ammunition with which to use when critiquing Liverpool’s potential title challenge.
The average age of Liverpool’s bench vs Bournemouth was 23.57. Whilst the presence of youth talent on the bench was encouraging, the lack of experience meant there were very few options to bring off the bench and potentially cost us the game that weekend.
It is also very worrying that the loss of Matip had such a huge impact on the team. While I am a fan of Lucas, he’s not a central defender we can rely upon when the team is coming under heavy pressure. That’s not to say he isn’t a good defender, in fact, I maintain that when played in the right partnership he can be very reliable, yet on that particular occasion, he was in part to blame for the loss that weekend.
The only regular first team player who came off the bench that Sunday was Lallana, who’d recently recovered from a slight knock. Whilst a very welcome return to the squad, his lack of recent game time showed with a wayward, wasteful shot in the later parts of the game, with the game poised at 3-3.
Even when Lallana and Matip do return to the first team squad, the options from the bench are still very slim, with Origi being the only viable attacking option from the dugout for the majority of games this season. It is this lack of depth from the bench due to injuries that worries me about future games, more specifically high stakes games.
With the prospect of an EFL cup final looming, provided we can beat Southampton across two legs, one can only hope we either get rather lucky with injuries, or invest in some attacking options in January. However, with the very hectic Christmas period having just got underway, the first option seems very unlikely. It appears that Liverpool and Jürgen Klopp must turn to the January transfer window, and invest in positions that are desperately depleted. Perhaps an extra striker, or a new winger to compensate for the departure of Mané to the Africa Cup of Nations. Defensive options must not be overlooked.
In conclusion, I believe that investments must be made during January as with the current squad depth no chances can be taken regarding injuries. Once we pass the Christmas period games start to become far too important for us to collapse under the withdrawal of one important player, and no one would like a repeat of the Bournemouth game.