By Maxi Magee – @Maxi_1892
The January window looms. Last year we saw the colossus Virgil van Dijk come in for what still is the most expensive defender of all time.
He changed the season and you would have to argue was the reason behind the surge in the Champions League ultimately falling short to Real Madrid at the last hurdle. Not only that but our form improved in said January and February beating the likes of Manchester City 4-3 and Everton 2-1.
We even had an emphatic 5-0 win against Porto during February. Now looking at the season before last. We did not strengthen in January and the results that followed were utterly embarrassing.
We drew with Plymouth, drew with Sunderland, lost to Swansea, lost to Wolves, lost to Southampton which saw us plummet to fourth from first and see us out of the FA Cup and the EFL Cup. A disaster to say the least.
The year before that, we see another atrocious January with similar results. The only time in recent years that we strengthened in the winter window, did the best results follow. What makes this season different?
We are now in mid-December, Naby Keita is only just getting regular starts as is Fabinho. The same can be said for the defence, Joel Matip started against Bournemouth in place of the injured Joe Gomez and Trent is only playing a game every two.
The players who are generally playing every minute of every match are Alisson, Van Dijk, Robertson, Salah, Mane and Firmino. Also worth noting the front three have missed over 600 mins combined this season in the league alone which is a notable absence compared to compared other teams star players (Harry Kane has only missed 80 mins in the league).
The issue that lets us down in January in the past has been rotation or lack of rotation and especially in the midfield and defence. Gini Wijnaldum almost having to play every game in that horrendous January a few years back. This time round. arguably our best midfield three have only played one game together in the league.
Whilst Keita, Henderson and Shaqiri haven’t even started in midfield together yet. The versatility in all our players is something we aren’t accustomed to ether with Fabinho able to play at full back, Shaqiri able to play in every attacking position bar a No. 9 and Naby Keita having history on the wing means all three signings are capable of playing in different positions and playing to high level if needed.
The front three no doubt will need a rest when the dreaded January congestive fixtures come up but when they do, Origi, Sturridge and Shaqiri are good enough to score against any team outside the top six.
The main point is in recent years we have had to play the same 11 every single game due to lack of squad depth and versatility. That causes the chaotic January but with a whole new midfield who are only just getting their first starts mean we won’t burn out in the new year.
Instead we are far more likely to blitz teams apart as on average, a player in the starting line up has missed a game every three games (not including Alisson).
Liverpool head into the new year with six first team-quality midfielders, four first team quality centre backs, four first team-quality full backs. We have Sturridge, Lallana, Origi to come in against lower quality teams keeping the front three fit and fresh.
This is different Liverpool, this is a Liverpool that can play on Boxing Day and New Years Day. This is a Liverpool that can play a second team against Burnley and win 3-1 instead of relying on Klavan to pop up in the 94th minute. This is a Liverpool more than capable of winning the league.
We sit top of the league at almost the half way stage and the best is yet to come.
Do we need Nabil Fékir or a player of that calibre to win the league this season? Absolutely not.