2 players, 5 goals: Liverpool substitute problem is abundantly clear

Liverpool have a debilitating substitute problem. There’s no quick way to fix things, either, as the Reds struggle for help.

We all know Liverpool lack depth in their team. Virtually every game you can look at their bench and see the problem – there’s no one there who can reliably change a game.

That changes sometimes, of course, when Jurgen Klopp leaves a star on the bench. Then Mohamed Salah or Sadio Mane or whoever it may be operates as a late threat.

We’re particularly feeling the problem now with Diogo Jota out of the side. When he’s available, Liverpool usually have one reliable forward one their bench.

When he’s not, it’s business as usual. We get the situation we had last season where Liverpool rely entirely on their usual front-three to score and create.

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And that shows up when you look at goals from subs.

Only two Liverpool players have scored in the Premier League or Champions League as a substitute this season. They are Salah (three goals) and Jota (two goals).

Immediately, you can see another problem – those two typically start when available.

Salah’s three sum that up. He had one against Midtjylland as he was rested. Then two came in the same game – the 7-0 win over Crystal Palace. They weren’t exactly game-changing goals.

Jota did have a game-changing goal, though. He scored as a sub in a 2-1 win over West Ham. It makes it the only substitute goal this season that actually affected a game.


The problem continues with assists. Only five players have registered assists from the bench and no one has more than one.

Firstly, there’s Salah. He got an assist against Palace to go with his brace – once again, not a game-changer as Liverpool won 7-0.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has one but it was the 7th goal in that same game. He set up Salah for his second.

Xherdan Shaqiri has an assist, too – it was Jota’s match-winner against West Ham. So while yes, it was an assist and Shaqiri gets credit, it’s still the same goal.

The last two players – Roberto Firmino and Curtis Jones – both got important assists. Both, however, came in the same game. They set up goals off the bench in a 3-1 win against West Ham.

What it tells us

So in terms of important goals as a result of substitutes, we’re looking at three. One from Jota, set up by Shaqiri, and two set up by Firmino and Jones.

In terms of games, there are two. In terms of opponents, there’s just one – West Ham.

The Hammers are the only team to feel a genuine effect from Liverpool’s substitutes this season. It happened in both games against them and no one else.

Photo by Alex Livesey – Danehouse/Getty Images

Liverpool get virtually no help from their bench, then. A player like Divock Origi – with seven bench appearances – has zero goals and assists.

In fact, no player typically on their bench has managed to score as a sub.

During an injury crisis, this is a disaster. Liverpool have little choice but to keep their stars on for as long as possible in every game.

If Liverpool fix anything this summer, it simply must be their squad depth. It’s time to invest in their bench.

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