‘Goal-Crazy’ Liverpool CAN defend – but a ‘Plan B’ may be needed
Liverpool CAN defend despite their woes at the back but the free-scoring Merseysiders may still need to buy a world class striker
To quote a famous Anfield Rap verse, “Liverpool FC is hot as hell, United, Tottenham, Arsen-el” (sic). While the latter three teams in that cringeworthy opening have all impressed on multiple occasions this season, Liverpool’s recent performances have become the talk of the league. With the Reds currently on a run of 3.6 goals per game, those same peers in the upper reaches of the table have every reason to be worried.
‘Hot as hell’ and very much on fire, Liverpool are brushing teams aside. Yet, rightly or wrongly, the Reds remain the subject of criticism whenever they ship another needless goal, no matter how inconsequential, to inferior opposition. Set pieces remain an area for development, but encouragingly for the red half of Merseyside, emphatic wins to nil have become more common of late.
In turn, improved results have prompted an increase in Liverpool’s buy/sell price to win the Champions League, in the Sporting Index sports spread betting stakes, but no such fluctuation is evident in the Premier League market. Though lethal in front of goal, the Reds remain hopelessly adrift of league leaders Manchester City, and thus, the opinions of analysts as to where Liverpool FC goes from here remain mixed. There is, however, but one player on the minds of those in the street and the studio alike – an Egyptian goal machine by the name of Mohamed Salah.
Top scorer of the Premier League at the time of writing, Salah is firmly on course to become the first ever midfielder to win the Premier League’s golden boot.
Just six months ago, it was all very different. Arriving from Roma for £36m, Salah was dismissed by many sceptics as an overpriced ‘Chelsea reject’. From anyone who had the privilege of watching Liverpool during the first three months 2016/17 season, such scepticism was unwarranted. With early demolition jobs of Watford and Hull, along with high-octane away wins over Arsenal and Chelsea, Klopp’s first full season at Anfield was a sign of things to come.
It stands to reason, therefore, that a 100mph player like Salah chose to move from Roma to Liverpool last summer. Though he is all attack, Salah’s presence also provides a greater sense balance within the side. Subsequently, Liverpool’s long-suffering defenders now have a far more simplistic job on their hands. Arguably, no player has benefitted more from this newfound sense of balance than Joe Gomez.
A young prodigy with room for startling development under the right management, Gomez has become a prominent feature in Klopp’s immediate agenda. With an England appearance now under his belt, the calendar year of 2017 has seen the versatile Catford-born defender grow as a player, both in terms of his physique and his game-reading ability. Of his recent appearances for Liverpool, a stellar evening performance against a Chelsea side, including Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard, stands out as a particularly distinguished showing of his natural talent.
While Klopp now has the personnel to play at an unsettling tempo and utilise the wide areas to a merciless extent, consistently doing so to a winning end will not always be an option, especially if Liverpool are to make a genuine title challenge in 2018/19. In light of this, Gomez could have a longer-term role to play while sporting the famous red hues of the five-time European champions.
With the experienced Jordan Henderson playing as an accomplished captain in front of Gomez, the basic elements of a new ‘core’ in the mould of past masters Hansen, Souness and Rush are already present in the Anfield dressing room. However, for all of Roberto Firmino’s all-round skill as a designated striker, Liverpool remain without the true finisher required to make this differential route to goal work consistently.
In mitigation, talents such as Luis Suarez are a premium commodity, but there may soon come a time where Klopp must go for broke and sign a true world beater at all costs. The road is long, but with several of Liverpool’s rivals in the top six now faltering, what remains of 2017/18 could be the making – or the breaking – of a new Anfield dynasty.
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