Since Jurgen Klopp’s arrival he has managed to lift new life into the squad and the fans, taking the club to two cup finals. It was another poor season for the Reds in the league though, finishing eighth. Klopp needs to line the team up much better to break into the top four next season, here’s how he might do it.
Back 5: Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Matip, Hector
Mignolet looks set to remain in the number 1 spot again next season, although he will have stiff competition with the arrival of Loris Karius. Mignolet isn’t an ideal starter for such a big club, although he can make a miraculous save it is normally followed by a simple mistake which puts the team under pressure, I feel Klopp will stick with Mignolet, especially at the start of the season but any mistakes could see Karius replace him.
Clyne will retain his right-back position where he has been quite successful under Klopp, his desire to get forward and put the ball in the box is exactly what Klopp will be looking for, he will be used in a flat back four and also as a wing-back next season. Klopp will be keen to improve upon Alberto Moreno at left-back, with FC Koln and Germany defender Jonas Hector linked persistently by outlets such as Sky Sports.
After securing the signing of Joel Matip on a free, I expect him to partner the experienced Dejan Lovren at the heart of the Liverpool defence next season, both defenders stand over 6 foot tall and will be a real dominant pairing at the back, I am excited to see how well they perform alongside each other, as the centre of defence has often caused problems in recent history for Liverpool.
Holding Midfielders: Can, Milner
I am a massive fan of Can, especially playing deep as he has a drive about him and can dictate the play, standing over 6 foot he can look after himself and is always up for the physical battle. Playing from deep he can dribble forward and has a good passing range which will impress his boss. Can does need to be more professional / switched on and not get wound up as he does commit fouls often, last season he committed 1.30 fouls per 90 minutes which is something that can put his team under pressure.
It is likely Can will partner the reliable, solid, professional James Milner in the holding midfield position next season. Milner is underrated by many, due to not doing fancy tricks or pinging a 40-yard pass every five minutes, but he is a real team player and has become a leader at Liverpool. The impressive England international found fine form in 2016 and an impressive spell saw him bag 0.41 assists per 90 minutes, which is very impressive for a midfielder that also does a lot of defensive work.
Attacking midfield: Mane, Coutinho, Firmino
New £30million man Sadio Mane will slot into the Liverpool squad occupying from the right-hand side, a real athlete who will add bags of skills and ideas to the Liverpool forward line. He is an excellent addition to the squad and will no doubt make an instant impression in his debut season. His dribbling abilities are something that really stands out, he managed to be successful with 55% of his take ons last season which is all you can ask for from an attacking player. Key passes are another strong aspect of Mane’s game and he managed 1.21 per 90 minutes last season which led to him contributing to 0.21 assists.
Liverpool’s magician Coutinho will cement his place in the squad once again, and now Liverpool have found themselves a quality right winger, I think Klopp will use Coutinho at number 10 for the whole season. The stylish playmaker was an inspiration for the Reds last season and helped them reach the Europa League final. Coutinho has many things to his game, he has a hawk eye and can pick his teammates out with impressive passes and can also score goals out of nowhere, having one of the best long shots in the Premier League. The Brazilian has changed his approach in recent seasons and you can see that under Klopp, along with Can and Firmino they stick to Klopp’s idea of pressure from the front as all three don’t let their markers have a second on the ball.
I wasn’t too keen on Firmino when he first joined Liverpool, in his first few appearances it seemed like he was trying too hard and couldn’t get into the game, but under Klopp he has been reborn and rekindled his fine form we saw in the Bundesliga. He has been a real threat going forward and also tracks back and does the dirty work. Like Coutinho, he has beautiful skills and can assist and score goals which makes him the all round perfect attacking player.
For me, Daniel Sturridge is England’s best striker and arguably one of the best in the league on his day, if he can stay fit, I have no doubts he will lead the Liverpool line. Sturridge struggled with an injury plagued season last year but whenever he steps on the pitch he oozes brilliance, the delightful striker has an amazing eye for goal and scores ridiculous goals out of nothing, he also has a killer pass in his locker like you saw against Iceland in the Euro’s which saw Sterling latch onto the ball and win a penalty.
I do feel this is now or never for Sturridge under Klopp, Origi is breathing down his neck and will provide very good competition next season, but if the latter stays fit then there is no doubt Klopp will use him as the club’s main number 9.
Managing just 14 league games last season, Sturridge managed to score 0.74 goals per 90 minutes. The Liverpool man loves to dribble with the ball and have a go at defenders and he managed to be successful with 61.90% of his take ons.
The out and out number 9 has a great through ball and this is a main strength of his play, this led to the England international creating 0.64 chances per 90 which included 0.55 key passes.
In summary, I expect Liverpool to play with a 4-2-3-1 formation next season, this will help the club balance their squad and fit in their most elegant attackers. Liverpool fans should be excited ahead of the new season as the whole squad seemed to be lifted by the German managers arrival, exciting times on Merseyside and I’d expect them to challenge for the top four next season.