Do Liver­pool have squad depth to com­pete on two fronts?

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - FOOTBALL -

BOURNEMOUTH, Eng­land: Naby Keita has started to show he can add cre­ativ­ity to Liver­pool’s mid­field but Jur­gen Klopp may ques­tion his squad’s strength in depth de­spite se­cur­ing two Premier League wins in four days.

Klopp is likely to re­vert to his tried-and-trusted first choices at Bournemouth Satur­day, hav­ing been a lit­tle lucky Wed­nes­day to emerge with a 3-1 win at Burn­ley af­ter mak­ing seven changes to his lineup.

There were good rea­sons for so many changes – the match came hot on the heels of last Sun­day’s dra­matic late derby vic­tory over Ever­ton, at the start of a fran­tic month that fea­tures home games against Napoli, Manch­ester United and Arse­nal.

In ad­di­tion, full-back Andy Robert­son and for­ward Sa­dio Mane were in­jured, and so Klopp would have had to shuf­fle his play­ers around even if ro­ta­tion had not been on his mind.

Yet Liver­pool were sec­ond-best for the open­ing hour at Turf Moor against op­po­nents with­out a vic­tory since Sept. 30.

They only turned the match around in the fi­nal 30 min­utes, when Klopp brought on Mo­hamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.

It was ev­i­dence of just how im­por­tant Salah, Firmino and Sane are to the Liver­pool cause, even if they have not nec­es­sar­ily been at their best this sea­son.

Dur­ing Liver­pool’s strug­gles Wed­nes­day, though, the per­for­mance of Keita did give Klopp rea­son to be pos­i­tive. The Guinea mid­fielder’s im­pact has been re­stricted by in­jury problems since his ar­rival from RB Leipzig in July, but he is start­ing to look at home in the English game.

His cre­ativ­ity is likely to be cru­cial, con­sid­er­ing that Liver­pool have been short of such a player fol­low­ing the de­par­ture of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona in Jan­uary, and be­cause of the long-term knee in­jury suf­fered by Alex OxladeCham­ber­lain in April.

Of the seven play­ers brought into the start­ing lineup by Klopp at Burn­ley, Keita made the strong­est case to re­tain his place at Bournemouth, where there will have to be at least one change, with de­fender Joe Gomez side­lined for up to six weeks af­ter frac­tur­ing his leg.

At Turf Moor, Keita showed he was will­ing to fight for the ball but also pro­vided for­ward im­pe­tus once he got it, al­most scor­ing with a shot that Joe Hart saved bril­liantly.

“He started the sea­son bril­liantly and ob­vi­ously then get­ting an in­jury set him back a lit­tle bit. But you can see how good a player he is,” cap­tain Jor­dan Hen­der­son said.

“That shot with the left foot and the save from Hart was fan­tas­tic. In his over­all play he is com­fort­able on the ball and he helps build up play from the back. He drives the ball for­ward, which is big for us. I thought he was out­stand­ing.”

As a whole, though, Liver­pool lack the strength in depth of Manch­ester City, the team they will have to sur­pass in or­der to be­come cham­pi­ons of Eng­land for the first time since 1990.

City had a rather more com­fort­able night at Wat­ford Tues­day, de­spite only win­ning 2-1, as Pep Guardi­ola ro­tated his squad.

It raises the ques­tion as to whether Liver­pool can af­ford to go full out for both the Cham­pi­ons League and Premier League.

Fail to get the right re­sult against Napoli in their fi­nal Euro­pean group-stage game next Tues­day, and the de­ci­sion will be made for them.

Hen­der­son, though, is re­main­ing pos­i­tive. “The games are com­ing thick and fast, a lot of games in a short space of time, but we showed we can use the squad and still per­form to the level we know we are ca­pa­ble of and win games – and that’s a big plus for us,” he said. –

Liver­pool were sec­ond-best for the open­ing hour at Turf Moor and only turned the match around in the fi­nal 30 min­utes.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lebanon

© PressReader. All rights reserved.