Liverpool are in a position of luxury that not too many top-flight teams have been fortunate enough to have in this early stage of the season.
Still, in February, the Reds are just four league victories away from making the Premier League a mathematical conclusion.
This suggested luxury allows Jurgen Klopp to tinker with the bulk of his squad without the added responsibility of meeting targets and getting results as Liverpool have already blown their early-season aspirations firmly out of the water.
With Liverpool off the cuff of multiple injuries to some of their key men over the previous few weeks including the likes of Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Xherdan Shaqiri, it has allowed Klopp to alternate between his midfield options looking to find suitable alternatives to the aforementioned trio.
Naby Keita, who arrived for £52.97m in 2018, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who Liverpool paid £35m for in 2017 have been two players who have regularly filled in the void of their injured teammates and this has fueled a growing debate across the fan base.
Keita, in particular, is someone who has come under much criticism following the 3-2 victory against West Ham on Monday. The Guinea international was given the nod over Oxlade-Chamberlain in the starting XI but was replaced for the Englishman in the second half.
It was by no means an uninspiring or concerning performance but it was a display that frustrated supporters. This frustration stems from the unambiguity that still exists regarding Keita with the playmaker still yet to make a significant contribution to the team following his big-money move from RB Leipzig.
Despite this, Liverpool’s current predicament as unrivalled English champions-elect should enhance Keita’s prospects to make a name for himself. Klopp can afford to give Keita more minutes as the PL has now become a foregone conclusion.
This isn’t to say that Liverpool should get complacent nor over-confident either. However, it should allow Keita time to find his feet as there isn’t as much riding on matches as there was in the earlier stages of the season.
This should ease the burden both for Klopp as well as Keita. Liverpool’s success is showing no signs of slowing down so we shouldn’t be in a hurry to write certain players off in such a position of strength.
Keita is undoubtedly a talented player, no-one is denying that, but with the added bonus of operating in such a formidable team, now is the time for Liverpool’s No.8 to put his previous shortcomings firmly behind him and rediscover the player that made Klopp patiently wait two years to secure Keita’s services.