Liverpool will rely on a team effort as they hunt the Premier League and Champions League trophies this season. Three players have particularly key roles, however, if Liverpool are to be successful.
We take a look at each of the three and why they’re so important.
The three key players
Liverpool have a wide array of midfielders but Wijnaldum may be the most important one right now. Jurgen Klopp has switched between two systems this year: the 4-3-3 of last year and a 4-2-3-1.
That changes up the midfield quite a bit. While Fabinho is at home in the latter, for instance, Klopp doesn’t trust him in the big games with a three. While Klopp tends to trust Naby Keita in a midfield three, he hasn’t been used so much in a two.
Then there’s Jordan Henderson, who can certainly play both but struggles to play consistent games in a row. James Milner, on the other hand, tends to play a variety of positions and isn’t first choice.
It leaves Wijnaldum to hold things together. He can play both, help out the others, and is consistently fit. If Liverpool are to win a trophy this year, they’ll need him to keep that up.
Milner has become the ultimate squad player. He’s certainly a very good midfielder, playing the 4-3-3 very well, particularly in Europe, although he isn’t necessarily first-choice.
But he’s also Klopp’s preferred cover for Trent Alexander-Arnold at right back. On top of that, we’ll likely see him at left-back against FC Porto as Andy Robertson is suspended.
That kind of player is vital for a run-in that will test the stamina of everyone in the squad. There are a lot of big games coming up and Milner will be required to fill in all over the pitch when necessary.
Virgil van Dijk
Yes, this is an obvious one – but it’s times like these that Van Dijk truly shows his worth. The Dutchman has held the defence together despite not having a consistent partner all season and Liverpool need him to continue that for just two more months.
Van Dijk has arguably been the best defender in the world so far this season but if he wants to join the absolute elite, he needs to help deliver a trophy.
That may be easier if he’d had a consistent partner to share the workload with but the situation is what it is. Liverpool are asking a lot from him but Van Dijk has delivered it thus far.
Why these three players?
That’s not to say that these are the three best or even the three most important. They all have key roles, however. Things can fall apart if any of them have a bad patch, such is the reliance on them through rough patches.
Mo Salah and Sadio Mane can play as well as they can but if things aren’t held together behind them, it won’t count for much.