Xherdan Shaqiri could well be the answer Liverpool are searching for. The Swiss winger says he’s finally ‘feeling good’ and is ready to go.
Liverpool didn’t really miss Xherdan Shaqiri last season. He battled with injuries throughout the campaign and made little to no impact.
Still, the Reds marched to the Premier League title without him.
This season, though, is a different story. Liverpool were very fortunate with injuries last year but they’re now seeing just how lucky they were.
Just about everyone has been out at some stage. It’s left a tired Liverpool lacking flow and cohesion as they struggle for results.
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The Reds haven’t looked consistent all season but right now is as bad as it’s been for a good few years. They have two points from a possible nine, scoring just once in three games.
Something needs to change and Liverpool must find a jolt from somewhere. And perhaps that jolt is Shaqiri.
Liverpool can’t fall back on the relentless consistency of last season. It just isn’t there as they fail to play the same XI in back-to-back games.
A different approach, then, is to run with a more varied attack. Perhaps even moving away from the 4-3-3 and going 4-2-3-1.
Or perhaps just having someone from the bench is the answer. Either way, Shaqiri has his place.
The Swiss is unlike the usual attackers. He’s a player who wants to drift between the lines, receiving the ball from midfield and moving opposition players about.
He’s disruptive and very difficult to track. Defenders can’t stay rigid in position against him or Shaqiri will find space.
As we saw against Aston Villa, Shaqiri is great and finding pockets of space to offer a passing option for midfielders. He created a goal for Mohamed Salah this exact way from a Thiago pass.
Now, Shaqiri clearly isn’t as good as Salah or Sadio Mane. But he asks different questions of defenders and that’s what Liverpool need.
The latter pair both prefer isolating defenders on the wing and driving into space. They want to move into the box and look to get on the end of crosses.
While it’s enormously effective, teams know what to expect. They also know how to defend it by sitting very deep and compact.
But Shaqiri could be the one to move those defenders about. He’ll either find space or create it for others in doing so.
And that’s what Liverpool really needed over the last three games as teams sat back against them. Hopefully, now that he says he’s ‘feeling good’, Shaqiri can answer the problems from the last few games.