If you needed to choose one phrase to sum up Liverpool going into the brand new Premier League season it might be ‘undercooked’.
With six everlasting departures from Anfield this summer time, Jürgen Klopp’s facet have misplaced a whopping 1,776 Premier League appearances.
Five of these exits have been midfielders, with simply two signings by means of the door to interchange them and the membership labeled ’embarrassing’ by legend Jamie Carragher for a protracted saga to get a substitute No. 6 in Romeo Lavia, of Championship membership Southampton, to signal.
And Virgil Van Dijk, the brand new captain after Jordan Henderson’s lengthy controversial flight to Saudi Arabia, says he understands Liverpool followers’ fears going into the brand new season, with defensive weaknesses displaying in pre-season and “major characters’ that are no longer present. the club.
Asked if fans’ insecurities are justified, Van Dijk said: ‘Yes, I can certainly understand. I’m not a very negative person so obviously it’s not in my mind to think like that.
Virgil van Dijk has admitted he can understand why some Liverpool fans are concerned about the club’s summer transfers
The Liverpool squad has been bolstered with just two new arrivals and a weak defense has conceded 11 goals in five pre-season games
Jurgen Klopp has seen 1,776 Premier League appearances leave in recent weeks, including captain Jordan Henderson
“But when a lot of players leave – your captain and vice-captain – and at the moment there are only two players coming in… and the way we played, very good in possession but not so good defensively, I can understand some people have doubts.
“Let’s see if more players come, then we have to be ready for a long season again. If we look at the teams around us, it will be very tough, but we want to be on top again, we want to be challenging.’
So can Liverpool do what Van Dijk wishes and challenge for the title? While they look sharper than last year at this time, it feels like Klopp is going into the new campaign with more questions than answers, particularly around the makeshift midfield and the Trent Alexander-Arnold conundrum.
With Henderson, Fabinho, James Milner, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain no longer at the club, Klopp is puzzled over who should start as a midfielder. In the preseason, Alexander-Arnold, Curtis Jones and Alexis Mac Allister were all there.
Each of them has redeeming qualities, but it’s not enough for a team to seriously claim a title. Conor Bradley played at right-back during friendlies in Germany, with Alexander-Arnold in midfield, but the Northern Irishman, 20, is now injured.
So Jones or Mac Allister have played there, while Alexander-Arnold pushed into midfield at fullback. This leaves gaping holes, which teams have exploited. The system Klopp is trying to play is not much different from the form Manchester City used last season.
But Liverpool lack two key things that City’s Treble winners had in that system: Kyle Walker’s incredible recovery pace to cover the spaces left behind by John Stones, and the tactical discipline of Nathan Ake or Manu Akanji, who were prepared to go behind to stay and form a back three.
Instead, with Alexander-Arnold in midfield, Liverpool are left with Andy Robertson unsure whether to stay put or bomb forward with his usual runs over the left. On the other hand, Ibou Konate is left too many times to cover too much space and the Reds become overwhelmed.
And as bizarre as it may sound, Liverpool’s successes this season could rest on the signing of a 19-year-old from a second-tier club. Lavia has a bright future and wouldn’t solve all of these problems, but he would provide a defensive shield lost in summer exits.
Liverpool transfer cases
Alexis Mac Allister (Brighton) £35 million
Dominik Szoboszlai (RB Leipzig) £60m
James Milner (Brighton) free
Naby Keita (Werder Bremen) Free
Roberto Firmino (Al-Ahli) Free
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (released)
Fabinho (Al-Ittihad) £40m
Jordan Henderson (Al-Ettifaq) £12 million
Liverpool scored 11 goals in five games ahead of the season, but more worryingly it has leaked opportunities and too often required ill-fated interventions. To resolve the open back line, Klopp held a lengthy video session on Sunday, which was reportedly “clear and direct”.
“It’s not just about the midfield or the strikers or just the defenders, it’s about the way we try to put pressure on the opponent,” stated Van Dijk. “When they’re underneath stress, they’ll’t play the ball so simply within the again.
“Characters have left, gamers who performed a giant position in its success…however others must step up. That’s a pleasant problem. We needs to be excited. I’m very excited, so let’s strive it.’
As for Liverpool’s assault, there are causes to be excited and in excessive spirits – Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota have had a nice pre-season, whereas 17-year-old Scotsman Ben Doak has been a shining gentle – however within the defensive half of the pitch, there are causes to be afraid.