Liverpool struggled against Arsenal on Wednesday in a game that showed where the future of Curtis Jones lies. The Reds lost 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium.
Liverpool had 24 shots against Arsenal. Eight of those hit the target, one went in. Arsenal had three, scoring two. So to sum up, Liverpool wasted their chances.
The front three – aside from Sadio Mane, who did score one – didn’t perform as we know them to. They’d usually crush an opponent like this but just couldn’t find the necessary ways to convert chances and positions into goals.
They needed help, then. We can’t expect them to perform every single game and while they may come close to that, the trio will have off days.
Others must step up when they do, be it from the bench or from midfield.
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Shots from midfield – or lack thereof
Five of Liverpool’s shots came from midfield against Arsenal. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain managed two, Gini Wijnaldum matched that, and Naby Keita had one off the bench.
None of them went in, of course, and it highlights how unreliable the Reds are from midfield.
Let’s look at the last two games where Liverpool managed 20+ shots. Against Brighton, Liverpool had 20 shots and four from midfield – Jordan Henderson, now injured, had three of those (and scored).
Liverpool had 23 shots against Burnley, with five from midfield. Again, however, one player had a chunk of those – Curtis Jones. Jones had three of those five despite leaving the pitch around the hour mark. And that’s a sign of the type of player he can be.
The game before these three was against Aston Villa and once again, it showed Jones’ strength. Liverpool managed just six shots in that game but two came from midfield.
Both were from Jones, though, despite the fact he only played the final ten minutes. He even scored with one of them.
The Liverpool future of Curtis Jones
Jones may not have played much at all since the restart but he’s still managed to show what kind of player he can be. He’s a natural attacking midfielder, able to burst forward and find a path to goal.
The fact that he’s managed five shots on goal in 80 minutes of football stacks up incredibly well to Liverpool’s other attacking midfielders. Oxlade-Chamberlain has managed four from midfield since the restart – and he’s played over four hours there.
Wijnaldum has managed seven shots on goal since the restart, despite playing at least 80 minutes on four occasions. Keita, the other more attacking option, has managed two shots in seven appearances.
So the fact that Jones put in five shots over 80 minutes suggests there’s a clear future for him at Liverpool. He can carve out the role of goalscoring midfielder, the player who looks to support the attack when they’re struggling.
It’s exactly the kind of player Liverpool need – and Jones can be that player.