Michael Mongie argues that Emre Can needs to be dropped for Georginio Wijnaldum with the German failing to deliver the goods.
In case you didn’t know, Liverpool have been abysmal since the turn of the year and many different people have different theories on why Jürgen Klopp’s side have been unable to perform. Some cite Sadio Mané’s absence as being instrumental in the decline of this Liverpool side while others believe Emre Can’s continued inclusion in the side is restricting the free-flowing football that was on show just two months ago.
When Liverpool blew Arsenal apart on opening day back in August, Klopp selected a midfield trio of Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum and Adam Lallana. The gaffer’s decision to play Lallana in midfield and employ Wijnaldum in a more conservative midfield role took many people by surprise. It paid off, however.
Despite losing to Burnley in their next game, Liverpool showed in the next few weeks how capable they were. By November, Liverpool were league leaders and had sent a statement of intent to their Premier League rivals after thrashing Watford 5-1 at home.
Klopp has been limited in his team selection due to injuries, suspension and Mané’s absence due to Senegal’s involvement in the Africa Cup of Nations.
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With Adam Lallana injured, Emre Can was restored to the starting XI and showed glimpses of what we saw last season in the Europa League. Once Lallana was fit to play, Coutinho was injured and then a month later, Mané was due to depart for the AFCON in Gabon.
This meant that Can kept his spot in the midfield as Lallana was pushed higher up the field into a more attacking role. This meant that the former Southampton man’s creative influence, which is more apparent from midfield, was restricted by the constraints of playing on the wing.
As Can isn’t a creative player, the result was that he restricted the number of goalscoring opportunities that the Reds would’ve had. Since Coutinho and Lallana have been fit, however, Klopp has stuck by Can and it hasn’t gone well.
When Wijnaldum was signed from Newcastle in the summer for a fee in the region of £23 million, fans were disappointed. Since signing for Liverpool, however, fans have grown to love the Dutchman with his tidy ball work and effort in midfield having a telling effect on the way the Reds play.
The former PSV and Newcastle player gets very little credit as his true skills aren’t as clear to see as those of the likes of Coutinho and Mané, for example. That being said, his composure on the ball and ability to retrieve it make him an indispensable option in the engine room.
And yet he is seeing more of the bench than of the pitch in the capacity of a starter.
If Klopp wants to see the return of Liverpool’s form, then Emre Can needs to be benched. Regardless of the contact disputes going on behind the scenes, the German midfielder just isn’t good enough to be starting at the minute. His form in the last two months has been absolutely woeful.
Wijnaldum’s return to the starting lineup will at least guarantee more creativity in the build up – something which has been lacking. Liverpool have been entirely incapable of unlocking deep defending teams and the best way to move forward will be to include more players capable of moving the ball quickly.
Can has been guilty of taking too many touches in midfield, resulting in teams finding their correct positions to set up camp and repel any (not many) goalscoring attempts.
With Liverpool coming into a crunch period of their season where the likes of Spurs and Arsenal will visit Anfield, Klopp needs to ensure his best team is on the pitch and Can is not a part of the ideal Liverpool setup at the moment.