Michael Mongie writes that if Jürgen Klopp wants Liverpool’s season to get back on track, he can’t afford to have Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino burn out more than they already have.
With Liverpool out of both domestic cup competitions and looking up the league table at the Champions League places, a drastic change is needed in order to find form to fire the club back to league prominence.
Is there anything more drastic than benching two of your most important players?
I can think of very few measures more extreme.
With Lallana and Firmino pivotal to Liverpool’s high pressing style of play, it’s difficult to see Klopp resting them with Spurs, Leicester City and Arsenal up next. But, and this is a considerable but, he needs to.
It makes very little sense to have your chief geggenpressers exhausted when energy and vibrance is what makes the high-pressure system function so well.
Many people have pointed towards an inability to break low-block defending teams as the reason for Liverpool’s slump in form since the turn of the year. However, much to the delight of Raymond Verheijen (the Dutch fitness coach who seems to hate Klopp), Liverpool have looked very tired in recent weeks due to the demands of the style of play employed by the German manager.
It wouldn’t be such an issue if Liverpool had better squad depth, but due to the fact that Klopp has a very thin squad due to not signing more players in the winter transfer window, Liverpool don’t enough options to replace tired or injured players.
With Lucas Leiva and Wijnaldum, Klopp only has two senior central midfielders of note to replace Henderson, Lallana or Can with. This is woeful in comparison with the likes of Chelsea, who have Fabregas on the bench at all times. Not bad having a natural-born winner on the bench.
It might not make much sense to bench Lallana and Firmino with the fixtures coming up but with it being more important to win than ever, fresh legs in the midfield and the desire of Divock Origi up top, Liverpool might seem less stagnant than in recent weeks.
I don’t expect Klopp to rest two of his most important players against Spurs, but the trip to Leicester might earn Lallana and Firmino a rest. The current champions are teetering precariously on the verge of slipping into the relegation places. Their transformation from the energetic league winners to relegation candidates is almost as surprising as their title challenge itself.
The prospect of playing the Foxes isn’t as daunting as it was last season when Jamie Vardy was in electric form and Riyad Mahrez was bewitching defenders. Their defence has totally collapsed in the absence of N’Golo Kante after the Frenchman joined current title candidates Chelsea in the summer.
The visit of Spurs to Anfield once again presents an opportunity for Liverpool to correct their form that has seen them slip from the Champions League qualification places and see the chance to win silverware this season disappear entirely.
With a two week break after Liverpool play Spurs, Jürgen Klopp will be hopeful of restoring the energy and inspiration to his side which saw them climb to the top of the table by November.
With 14 games of the season still to play, it would be very short-minded to suggest that Liverpool are entirely out of the hunt for European football. Being one point behind Arsenal and four off Spurs is a promising proposition when you consider both will visit Anfield before the end of the season.
All it will take is one goal, one moment of brilliance to reignite the flame that burned so brightly but a few months ago. Perhaps shifting Lallana and Firmino could inspire some competition within the squad to trigger a climb up the league rankings once more.
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