One of the few positives Liverpool could take from their horrible defeat to Red Star Belgrade was the presence of Naby Keita back in the match day squad. The Guinean has been out with a hamstring problem and hasn’t feature in his club’s last four games.
Jurgen Klopp will now be hopeful he can get his £52 million man back in side and firing again. The defeat in Serbia showed that Liverpool’s options in midfield are not as rich as they would like and Keita’s availability for selection once more, could be a big boost.
Adam Lallana looks, understandably, to have lost a yard of pace. His selection on Tuesday night, alongside Milner and Wijnaldum, meant that all important second three across midfield was very pedestrian. That stark lack of energy, which has shown itself in other matches this season for The Reds, can only be immediately remedied by their summer recruits.
Fits and starts
Naby Keita has so far not hit the dizzy heights that many predicted. The former RB Leipzig midfielder has shown flashes of real quality; great footwork, pace and fluid movement. However, he has been on the periphery of games too often, almost hesitant to stamp his authority in events
Klopp’s game is built on energy and drive, Keita can offer that by the bucket load. It’s vital now for Keita to step up and inject some conviction back in to Liverpool’s play.
The team also needs more from Shaqiri and Fabinho if they are to keep pace with their rivals.
In fairness to Shaqiri he has looked excellent when called on. Klopp clearly rates him and he looks a natural fit and can offer something a bit different. In the coming weeks he’s surely got to feature more. His midfield colleague though has a bit more to do to prove his early doubters wrong.
Fabinho, like Keita, has shown a few glimpses. Against Red Star and Cardiff at home he was very effective for Liverpool, mopping up in front of the back four and linking up well with the attack. Arsenal away was a bit alarming for Reds fans though. The Brazilian looked a bit behind the pace of the action and was no help as Emery’s men broke through the lines with relative ease.
Fabinho is not a write off though, and Liverpool supporters will be comforted by the fact that he does have a yard of pace and looks strong in the tackle. He will need more time to adjust from the pace of Ligue 1 to the Premier League, and won’t be the first or last in that regard.
Three in, three out
Fulham come to Anfield this weekend and the hope for Klopp’s men will be that they can readjust their starting XI and show a marked improvement from Tuesday night.
All three Sumner recruits are unlikely to start together, but given Liverpool’s obvious fatigue issues, the summer signings will surely feature to some degree.
Klopp has guided the club to it’s best ever start to a Premier League campaign. In normal times they’d have been top with their points return. The football has been good in parts, if not always as fluid as their fans had hoped. The supporters were spoiled last season though by some truly awesome attacking play and it was always going to be hard to fly out of the traps in top gear once again.
The new boys settling in has undoubtedly played some part in a lack of fluency at times this season. Klopp spoke of his side losing their mojo in midweek, he will need his new boys to really start chipping in now, they way it was hoped they would when Liverpool parted with their money for them. If they can start to contribute it could make things very interesting in the title race.