Jack Hallows lists five things he wants to see in the five remaining games of Liverpool’s Premier League season – aside from a Champions League finish of course.
With Liverpool entering their final five games of the season, This Is Anfield’s Henry Jackson posted a piece on the five things he wants to see from the Reds across those matches. I liked the idea and so I decided to do the same, here we go.
Matip and Lovren to start every fixture
It’s unlikely, but still.
Amongst all the hype surrounding Liverpool’s intentions to strengthen the centre back position this summer, many of us have seemingly forgotten just how good this pairing has been for the Reds this season.
Injuries and some issues with the FA surrounding the AFCON have limited Lovren and Matip to lining up together in just 14 of the Reds league games this season in which Liverpool have impressively gone unbeaten.
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The pair enjoys a solid understanding which is always evident when they line up together and adds a physical presence both in defending crosses from open play and when lining up to both deals with and attack set pieces.
The Reds have won eight and drawn six of the matches that the pair have started together and it would be a huge boost to see them both play in each and every one of the remaining five games, especially when selection continuity has been the Reds biggest Achilles heel across 2016/17.
Mignolet to continue his form and earn clean sheets
Something a settled central defensive partnership would also help massively with is the Reds clean sheets total.
Despite the impressive run of form that Simon Mignolet has enjoyed over recent weeks, his shutout at the Hawthorns was Liverpool’s first league clean sheet since New Year’s Eve against Manchester City.
The Reds have in fact only kept a total of eight league clean sheets this season – with five of those belonging to Mignolet – and when compared to the rest of the top six this is genuinely very disappointing.
With the upcoming fixtures pitting the Reds against teams who do often struggle for goals such as Middlesbrough, Southampton and Watford, it isn’t unreasonable to expect the Reds to complete at least another 2-3 shutouts between now and the end of the season.
15 goals for Firmino, New bests for Coutinho
When Sadio Mané went down injured against Everton there was a resounding feeling of “oh for fuck’s sake,” from the Liverpool fanbase.
The Senegalese had left a huge hole when he disappeared to AFCON in January and it just looked as if his season-ending injury was destined to bring about a similarly disastrous scenario.
Enter our brilliant Brazilians.
Since Mané limped off injured against Everton, Liverpool have scored six Premier League goals with Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino both finding the net twice and setting one up each.
Both had struggled for form across February and March and their recent explosions of confidence and moments of quality have been massively welcome at a time when big things are expected of the club’s big players.
With that in mind, Roberto Firmino currently sits on 12 goals in all competitions this season and five games remaining is more than enough for the Brazilian to notch another three goals, hitting the 15 mark in the process.
Similarly, Philippe Coutinho sits on a new best of nine league goals, alongside six assists. For me, the Brazilian should be aiming to hit double figures for league goals for the first time in his career, while setting himself a new highest assist total of at least eight, surpassing the six from last campaign and seven he managed in each of his first three seasons at the club.
Divock Origi to step up
Sticking with the goalscoring theme, Divock Origi is a man who needs to show his mettle. The Belgian managed two in two against Everton and Bournemouth after a goalscoring drought dating back to December and despite many seeing him as having a poor season, he sits on a return of 10 goals in all competitions and having played most of his minutes from the bench.
Five games remaining this season is perfectly ample time for the Belgian to notch at least another pair of strikes for his collection and he should be looking realistically at rivalling – if not bettering – Roberto Firmino (12) and Sadio Mané (13) as the Reds top goalscorer at the end of the season.
Despite struggling at Stoke, his hold up play was impressive against West Bromwich Albion and if it weren’t for Firmino’s arm being adjudged offside he would’ve made it three goals in four games since the international break.
He’s a man in form who likes operating as a flat track bully – all of his goals bar one this season – have come against teams placed below 12th in the current table – and it’s about time he reminds us what he’s made of.
Emre Can to earn that new deal
After a season full of struggles due to lack of a consistent run in the first choice midfield and having to play with injuries, Emre Can has thrived of late in the absence of Jordan Henderson.
The German has really taken to the pressure of a Champions League places run-in well with his leadership, pile-driver style of play and willingness to scrap and fight for every point all being on full show in recent weeks.
A thunderous goal against Burnley, mature performances on the big stage against Arsenal, City and Everton and recent workmanlike shifts against Stoke and West Brom have all gone a huge way to reminding fans of the Emre Can we saw on Liverpool’s Europa League run last season and if he carries on in this manner then he’ll have no problems securing himself that new contract.
Klopp evidently rates him, he’s happy at the club and he’s playing superbly of late. If he carries it on from now until the end of the season and continues to show the same quality, desire and hunger as he has over the last two months, then that new contract will be a no-brainer.