By Connor Varnish – @cvarn4
This past Wednesday night saw Liverpool suffer their third away defeat in the Champions League against Paris Saint Germain.
While qualifying for the round of 16 isn’t impossible, it’s certainly going to be an uphill battle for the Reds when we host the current Group C leaders, Napoli at Anfield mid December in a must win by either clean sheet or two or more.
Let’s not dwell on our Champions League woes for a little bit, Reds. Instead let’s have a look what’s immediately on Jurgen Klopp’s agenda. Liverpool now face a stretch of games, prior to their match with Napoli, in the Premier League that will prove critical to our league standing come the end of May – starting this upcoming Sunday with the Merseyside derby at home.
Klopp undoubtedly has some huge decisions to make with Everton coming to Anfield, followed by two tricky away trips to Burnley and Bournemouth.
First and foremost with the Derby – This is a fine chance for the boys to gain some sense of redemption straight after the disappointment in Paris midweek. All eyes will be on this Sunday night fixture and the Reds absolutely need to be poised to bounce back against the blues to prove wrong those that doubt their capabilities.
But what must the Reds fix in order to ensure we do not drop any points in this crucial derby, as well as two away fixtures at Burnley and Bournemouth?
Most would agree that the key to picking up maximum points in these next three weeks will come from solving the imbalance of our midfield. Jurgen Klopp seems set on selecting a midfield three consisting of James Milner, Jordan, Henderson, and Gini Wijnaldum in some of our toughest contests.
We all can agree that this trio predominantly lacks the inventiveness and the desire to push the ball forward from midfield to link up with the front three. While these three undoubtedly have talent in what they do, none of them particularly give us the spark we need to create enough chances to win games.
I believe these next three weeks against Everton, Burnley, and Bournemouth give Jurgen Klopp’s Reds an excellent opportunity to experiment with a more innovative and explosive midfield.
I think it’s fair to say we’d all love to see Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri given more of an opportunity in the midfield to provide that innovative flare.
Both offer the ability to pick the ball up in the midfield and drive at the defence with speed – something our front three are crying out for. A combination of one or both of these lads could prove critical to solving the glaring imbalance that is plaguing our midfield.
With all due respect to our opponents over the course of the next three Premier League games, now is the perfect time to truly have a go at these teams, as our squad is certainly more capable than all of theirs.
We are the bigger team and need to go prove it with a midfield that looks to attack and press high up the pitch – and hopefully we see the beginning of this new look midfield starting this Sunday in a vital tie against our neighbours in blue when they come to Anfield.