Squad Depth - The Debate

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Throughout seasons gone by, common issues regarding Liverpool have always been brought up. The shaky defence of the team has been one of the issues that seem to impede the club from progressing. However, an even more hotly debated topic surrounds the squad depth at the club.

Gone are the days where Liverpool were able to line up two decent squads to challenge on all fronts in a season. Last season, for example, is a prime example of how a thin squad brought us all back down to reality. With the 1-0 win at Anfield on New Year’s Eve, Liverpool was within striking distance of eventual Premier League winners, Chelsea.

The turn of the year brought injuries to key players and the departure of Sadio Mane on Afcon duty. Liverpool suddenly fell apart and their season began to derail. Many youngsters and fringe players such as Ben Woodburn, Kevin Stewart and Trent Alexander-Arnold had to take up spots on Liverpool benches for majority of match days in January and February. Jurgen Klopp no longer had the luxury to bring on proven premier league players to turn around games.

Fast forward 5 months later and here we find ourselves again, the debate around our squad depth. With the added European games this season, Liverpool will need a much larger squad to compete on all fronts this season. For many, the FA Cup and the League Cup now named Carabao Cup are deemed not of high importance for Liverpool. The Champions league and the Premier league title are what the club need to be prioritizing.

Many Twitter users and fans have their own opinions on the squad depth at the club. Some fans believe that the squad is only a couple of players away from competing on all fronts.

https://twitter.com/jacklusby_/status/891350822134697984

However other fans still believe we need more than just a Centre-back to compete this season.

https://twitter.com/IndigoLFC/status/891591503721771011

https://twitter.com/IndigoLFC/status/891592091259875328

While others just believe that the current squad is just too weak and need more reinforcements.

So is the Liverpool squad doing much better than last season’s in terms of squad depth? So far this season Liverpool have signed Andy Robertson, Dom Solanke and Mo Salah. Departures included Lucas and Kevin Stewart. With Markovic, Moreno and Sakho surplus to requirements at Anfield, Liverpool do need at least 2-3 more signings.

According to Premier league rules; “Premier leagues clubs are required to submit a squad list containing no more than 17 players who do not fulfill the “Home Grown Player” (HGP) criteria.”

“The remainder of the squad, up to a total of 25 players, must be Home Grown. An HGP means a player who, irrespective of his nationality or age, has been registered with any club affiliated to the Football Association or the Football Association of Wales for a period, continuous or not, of three entire seasons or 36 months prior to his 21st birthday (or the end of the season during which he turns 21).”

Based on these rules, Liverpool 25 man squad (* Home Grown) should include:

Roberto Firmino, Emre Can, Nathaniel Clyne*, Phil Coutinho, Jordan Henderson*, Danny Ings*, Loris Karius, Ragner Klavan, Adam Lallana*, Dejan Lovren, Sadio Mane, Joel Matip, Simon Mignolet, James Milner*, Daniel Sturridge*, Georgino Wijnaldum, Mohamed Salah, Divock Origi, Danny Ward and Andrew Robertson.

Our Under 21 list will include naming a few:

Dom Solanke*, Marko Grucij, Joe Gomez*, Ben Woodburn, Harry Wilson and Trent Alexander Arnold*.

Currently, Liverpool are able to make two starting XI squads:

lineup                        lineup (1)

 

Based on both squads a few conclusions can be drawn:

In terms of Goalkeepers, Liverpool will be relying on Simon Mignolet, Loris Karius and Danny Ward this season. These three keepers will be fighting for the starting spot this season. Hopefully, at least one of them plays a blinder this season for the team.

Jurgen Klopp decided to spend £10 million on Left Back Andrew Roberston as he deemed Alberto Moreno surplus to requirements. Roberston and Milner will both challenge for the LB position this season. Hopefully, Roberston will be able to adequately challenge Milner this season as the majority of fans realize how important it is to have a fluid LB who does not only cut back and cross with their right foot.

The Right Back positions this season looks to be a battle between Nathaniel Clyne and Trent Alexander Arnold.

A new Centre back is also needed and hopefully that CB will be Virgil Van Dijk. If VVD is signed he will surely be the main CB at the club and one of the first names on the team sheet. With VVD, Lovren, Matip and Klavan Liverpool will look to shore up their leaky defence this season.

lineup (2)

Joe Gomez will hopefully not go out on loan this season, based on Klopp’s recent comments about the youngster. If he does indeed stay, he will be able to provide valuable cover at LB, CB and RB.

Our midfield already consists of Henderson, Lallana, Can, Coutinho, Wijnaldum, Grujic. By the way, team formations have gone in pre-season so far it looks as if these 6 players will be fighting for 3 starting spots. The drawn out Naby Keita saga seems to have come to a conclusion and it looks like he won’t be a Liverpool player this season.

With regards to out and out wingers this season, Liverpool only have Sadio Mane and Mo Salah. Ryan Kent and Ojo will most likely go out on loan and Lazar Markovic is not wanted by Klopp. Therefore, it is evident that Liverpool needs at least 1 more winger in case there are injuries or suspensions to Sadio Mane and Mo Salah. Otherwise, Phil Coutinho may be needed to fill in for either if they are unavailable.

Jurgen Klopp does not seem to want any additional strikers this season. Roberto Firmino seems to have cemented the starting striker spot this season. With Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi, Dom Solanke, Ben Woodburn and Danny Ings, Liverpool seem to have enough cover upfront. However, Klopp may be looking to loan out Danny Ings to gain game time after his season ending injuries in the past two seasons.

Jurgen Klopp does have a few good headaches to deal with for the upcoming season and it will not be easy to pick the starting XI and match day squads this season. Last season, opposing managers knew what Liverpool starting XI would look like as there was a ‘set starting XI’. This season Liverpool will have many game changers on the bench to come on and influence the majority of matches this season.

lineup (3)

By naming this possible match day squad, Liverpool have many different options to call upon from the bench. Sturridge, Origi, Wijnaldum, Can, Robertson, Lovren and Karius are on paper the strongest bench that we could have in my opinion if we do get VVD.

Liverpool’s squad is not the best compared to certain rivals this season. However, Klopp has already strengthened the LB and RW position for this season. With further additions at CB and maybe to an extent another CM and winger Liverpool will definitely be in a position to challenge on all fronts this season.

For now, in my opinion, this squad gets a current rating of 6.5/10. For Liverpool to improve on this squad a few things need to occur: Liverpool needs to sign a CB, another winger if possible, make sure Coutinho and Sturridge do not leave and tie down Emre Can to a new contract. Otherwise, the inevitable will occur and midway through the season, injuries will occur and our squad will get weaker and weaker.

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