Liverpool are closing in on the winning XI they’ve missed since October 17th. It could bring about the turnaround in fortunes they’ve desperate for.
No mater what happens, October 17th 2020 will be a defining point in Liverpool’s season. That was the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park and it certainly wasn’t an isolated game.
The big story was a long-term injury to Virgil van Dijk, who may not play again this season. But it also saw Thiago pick up a knee injury of his own that ruled him out for months.
That game robbed Liverpool of their season plans and they haven’t been right since. Fortunately, things might be about to bounce back.
Van Dijk and Thiago’s injuries were quickly followed by Joe Gomez’s. Add to that Joel Matip’s struggles and Liverpool have real problems.
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Fabinho moved back into defence to help, reducing numbers in midfield. A look at Liverpool’s lineup against Everton that day highlights the problems:
Alexander-Arnold – Matip – Van Dijk – Robertson
Henderson – Fabinho – Thiago
Salah – Firmino – Mane
Now, Adrian for Alisson and you’ve got what is comfortably a title-winning XI. But now take out the two centre-halves, shift the defensive midfielder back and drop Thiago.
Doesn’t look as good, does it? Now start dropping one player out per game and you roughly have what Liverpool have had over the last few months.
In short, Liverpool have not had a title-winning XI for some time. But that could change.
Gini Wijnaldum, who started that game on the bench, is having a good season in midfield. Fabinho has been a revelation in defence. Thiago is now back, too, while Matip could return to face Manchester United next week.
It gives Liverpool this:
Alexander-Arnold – Matip – Fabinho – Robertson
Henderson – Thiago – Wijnaldum
Salah – Firmino – Mane
Now to us, that looks like a team capable of winning the Premier League this season. It might need a few games to click together – and depends on players staying fit – but it’s definitely good enough.
Liverpool haven’t had this since October. We can’t stress that enough. It’s a minor miracle that they’re top of the league.
And with this XI – if they can consistently play it – should be enough to keep them there.