Liverpool head into the international break with 4 points from the first three games, which isn’t too bad considering their difficult start to the campaign. The Reds were quite impressive in their opening game against Arsenal, whilst they were equally disappointing against Burnley.
The Merseyside club had the chance to take away all three points against Tottenham at White Hart Lane, but conceded late in the game. It’s too early in the season to have an opinion on their performances, but there are a number of concerns on and off the pitch that Jurgen Klopp would be hoping to resolve quickly in the few weeks.
1. Reluctance to play Daniel Sturridge
Surely, Sturridge has his fair share of injuries, but Klopp looks like a bit reluctant to play him. The 26-year-old scored twice in midweek against Burton in the Capital One Cup, but found himself on the pitch against Tottenham only in he dying minutes of the game.
Klopp preferred to bring Origi ahead of him, and Firmino started the game. There is little doubt over the quality of Firmino and Origi, but Sturridge has been a more regular goalscorer and certainly has the quality to make a bigger impact up front.
Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham have distinguished strikers starting in every game, and Sturridge can provide that to Liverpool and Klopp.
2. Lack of fullbacks
Jurgen Klopp is also reluctant to sign a fullback this summer. Nathaniel Clyne and Alberto Moreno are the only established fullbacks in the team, whilst Klopp intends to use Milner as a makeshift left back.
The German manager also discussed the possibility of using Ragnar Klavan as a full back, but a few injuries to the squad and this could turn out to be a big mess.
You’d expect the Liverpool manager to have enough cover in all positions as his teams generally have more injury concerns than the rest. Also, playing Milner as a left back doesn’t seem to be an ideal option for a team that’s fighting for a Champions League spot.
3. Offload fringe players
Liverpool have done well to get rid of few players this summer, and have also been very smart in the transfer market. Jordon Ibe and Brad Smith left the club, but Liverpool have done well to insert buy back and sell-on clauses in their contracts.
Liverpool fans would still want the likes of Lazar Markovic, Mario Balotelli and Lucas Leiva to be shipped out of the club before the August 31 deadline.
Markovic doesn’t seem to be a part of Klopp’s plans for the season, whilst there is little left to say about Mario Balotelli. Klopp plans to use Lucas Leiva as a makeshift centre-back, but you’d rather want him to keep Sakho at the club instead of playing the Brazilian.
4. Right use of Jordan Henderson
Perhaps one of the biggest challenge for Klopp this season will be to find the most suitable role for his captain in the playing XI. The double pivot of Henderson and Wijnaldum doesn’t seem to be too convincing, and one of them might have to make way for Emre Can once he returns from injury.
Henderson doesn’t seem to be the ideal option for a double pivot, and is better utilized in wide midfield areas. Grujic has also been impressive in the little we’ve seen so far from him.
Wijnaldum is also expected to start after his big money move, and that leaves Henderson as the odd one out. Klopp, however, will have enough time to make a decision on this one, and it’d be unfair on the Liverpool captain to leave him out just yet.
Depending on the results Klopp could make a decision, but it could be a choice between Henderson and Wijnaldum. Emre Can was involved in most of the games under Klopp last season, whilst Grujic will be given the chance to impress.
5. Lack of consistency
One of the biggest issues for Liverpool over the past few years has been consistency. You could easily name a few quality players in Jurgen Klopp’s team, but there is hardly anyone who can drive the team throughout the season.
Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Emre Can, Sadio Mane, Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi can be very dangerous against any team on their day, but Klopp would be hoping for them to deliver consistent performances this season.
Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez performed on a regular basis throughout the 2013/14 season, whilst Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy did for Leicester City last season, but do the current Liverpool team have players who can make a similar impact?
6. Failure to beat weaker teams
Probably the pre-season 4-0 impressive win against Barcelona didn’t mean too much, but Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool team have been quite dominating in the matches against big teams in the league.
Liverpool have played 13 matches against Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Manchester United under Jurgen Klopp, and have lost just once in those 13 matches.
However, Klopp’s team find it very difficult to break opponents who like to sit back and defend. Liverpool looked absolutely clueless against a well organised Burnley team, and have regularly dropped points against minnows.
Klopp’s style of play suits against the teams that come to attack against Liverpool, but he needs to find a Plan B against weaker opponents.