Curtis Jones didn’t look right for Liverpool against Shrewsbury at the weekend. The Reds need a new plan on their left.
Curtis Jones lined up as a left-winger for Liverpool as they took on Shrewsbury Town. He played well, too, as the Reds saw out a relatively comfortable 4-1 win.
The Scouser’s stats stand out from the game. He had 103 touches, making him by far the most involved Liverpool attacker, while he completed a sensational 98% of his passes, creating two chances.
Jones won an interception on top of that and Shrewsbury only managed to dispossess him once. It’s absolutely brilliant – for a centre-midfielder.
And that’s the problem here. Jones was near-perfect as an advanced midfielder, keeping the ball magnificently well and progressing it consistently. But he was playing as a left-winger and his desire to drop back for possession actually hurt Liverpool.
They didn’t have someone who was looking to burst in behind or play quick one-twos to pile pressure on defenders. That’s a hallmark of Liverpool’s game but Jones doesn’t offer it.
What he does offer is a brilliant midfield game, one Jurgen Klopp described as a ‘full package’ earlier in the season. We’d wholeheartedly agree – Jones, at his best, is a brilliant midfielder with huge talent.
But he’s not what Liverpool need on the left.
Curtis Jones shows Liverpool problem
With Sadio Mane at the Africa Cup of Nations, Liverpool surely have to play Diogo Jota as a left winger. He plays the position incredibly well – naturally, really – while Roberto Firmino is there to lead the line centrally.
We’re not sure what the alternative is here. Liverpool could shift their formation slightly to rely less on wingers – but that’s a drastic change. The easier solution is to simply move Jota back out wide.
That should lead to Liverpool looking more comfortable in their current system than Jones playing there. We think the 20-year-old should instead be playing in the ‘no.8’ role while Thiago and Naby Keita are out – he’s the best available progressive midfielder.
On the left, though, Liverpool need something new. That should either be the return of Jota there or a quick signing – but Jones doesn’t appear to be the fit they want.