The international break curse strikes again with Lallana injuring his groin against Spain and now Coutinho with a light strain on his hamstring after playing 170 minutes for Brazil. Neither too serious but both influential starters now looking unlikely to feature at saturdays trip to the Saints. I don’t think I’ve ever been so calm after hearing the news, initially I was really gutted but after hours mulling it over (and swearing about international breaks) I think this will prove our title credentials. Two key players potentially out but rather than other years where this would mean certain doom and gloom for us fans, this is a huge opportunity for our other class operators. Normally it would be a 2nd choice brought in for cover or maybe a youngster given a chance, though I wouldn’t call Sturridge, Origi, Wijnaldum or Can second choice to be honest. Even though Sturridge/Origi are playing second fiddle to Firmino it’s not through lack of talent, they’d walk into most teams in world football. It’s simply an indication of just how strong our squad is under Jürgen. A lighter way of looking at it is Lallana and Coutinho played a lot of minutes (plus Coutinho and Firmino’s long trip back from South America) so would they have been 100% or even risked at all? Klopp’s philosophy is “Replace injured/suspended players directly rather than change the system or play someone out of position.” Even with a change of personnel I still fully expect a full throttle performance.
This week the rumour mill has been churning and a transfer of Sturridge leaving for 28 million to West Ham, Stoke, Tottenham and now AC Milan has been doing the rounds. Not that I believe any of it especially when Stoke chairman Peter Coates has already come out and denied the Mirror’s report. Even if there’s any truth in it can you imagine selling Sturridge in January after the season ending injury to Ings and the fact Sturridge is often picked ahead of Origi. Is there a better time for Sturridge to come out with an all round performance and stake a claim than now. Firmino, Coutinho and Mané are firm favourites after setting the league alight and scoring 16 goals between them, not an easy objective to shift any of these out of their spots. Until now that is where Jürgen’s hand has been forced and the likelihood is Sturridge now spearheading the attack with Mané and Firmino either side of him. Not exactly a bad attack is it? We all know he has the attributes to be one of the worlds best strikers and it’s not so much that he’s out of favour, more less suited to the gegenpress. Not going to lie, I’m actually quite excited to see Sturridge’s link up play with Firmino and Mané. He’s scored 4 goals in the English League Cup against Tottenham and Burton Albion and in a few cameos in the Premier League he’s proven that although perhaps less suited he’s by no means less potent. Whether it’s scoring or opening up play for someone else I don’t believe the Sturridge/Liverpool story is anywhere near over yet. Don’t be surprised to see a man of the match effort from Daniel Sturridge who I think will relish this opportunity.
Considering Sturridge’s stop-start injury hindered career at Liverpool his goal to game ratio speaks for itself. (57 goals in 79 appearances). When fit, absolutely prolific.
Just a quick word on the new luxury of having squad depth these days. This team of Jürgen’s has an air of invincibility about it, Coutinho out-Sturridge in or Lallana out-Wijnaldum, Can or Coutinho drop in. To think we’ve got the duo of Origi and Sturridge on the bench is unreal, yet still outscoring every other team with 30 goals already. A center back gets injured or suspended, like Lovren in the Watford game, no need to panic Lucas stepped in with ease. Such a team effort around not just the starting eleven but the whole squad. Look at this weekends game against Southampton, Lallana likely to miss out but I’m more than okay with a midfield of Henderson, Emre and Wijnaldum. If anything overall it’s maybe a more defensive midfield which isn’t a bad thing. Southampton have been solid this season so far and bossing the middle of the park could be crucial in snatching 3 points. Having said that, this midfield trio can be just as threatening going forward with Wijnaldum and Emre always eager to help the attack. Nor do any 3 of the midfield lack pressing or creativity. Yes it’s disappointing that Coutinho and Lallana are likely to miss this one but even with this disadvantage we look a strong, flexible team with the capability to beat whoevers in front of us.
Henderson-Can-Wijnaldum joint season stats:
1533 successful passes-32 key passes-41 tackles-38 clearances-4 blocked shots-27 interceptions-4 assists-4 goals. Not bad!
Cant see Karius not starting and the back four will be back to normal with Lovren as both trained at Melwood during the international break. As I’ve said earlier I think Henderson, Can and Wijnaldum will be our midfield and Sturridge, Mané and Firmino to head the attack. Though wouldn’t be surprised to see Origi at some stage.
Southampton away a stern test but I think Klopp’s Redmen will show just how versatile they are. I’m going 3-1 Liverpool.
Up the Reds!!!
Written by Ben Webb