After making it four wins from four with a win against Leicester City, Jurgen Klopp’s side head into the international break in undoubted high spirits after a simply perfect start. Here are 5 things we now know about the current state of Liverpool:
1) The squad depth issue has finally been resolved
Following an uninspiring performance from Naby Keita against Brighton & Hove Albion, Jurgen Klopp reacted to his display by replacing the Guinean with captain Jordan Henderson for the Reds’ next game against Leicester. This was a huge statement of intent for me in terms of showing that this squad is now strong and robust enough that even if you have just one mediocre game, then your place in the starting eleven will be in doubt.
Squad depth is a department that the Reds have more than struggled with in the past. The injury to Mohamed Salah in the Champions League final saw the Egyptian replaced by Adam Lallana, an attacking midfielder who has contributed to only a single goal since January 2017. The shrewd addition of Xherdan Shaqiri in the summer though provides cover and quality to both flanks, also adding competition for places which is something that couldn’t be said for last year’s squad. I do still think though that depth is lacking in the central defensive area, especially following the departure of Ragnar Klavan to Cagliari.
2) The magic Gini proves how vital he is to the side
Following the arrivals of Fabinho and Naby Keita in the summer, many Kopites wondered where Gini Wijnaldum would fit into this Liverpool squad. There were even talks about him leaving Anfield for Fenerbahçe just months ago.
However, the Dutchman has featured in every single minute for the Reds this season and it’s fair to say that he has been simply sublime. Playing in the number six role, he has let barely anything past him and has been so vital in distributing possession to his more influential and creative teammates. As Fabinho gets up to speed with Klopp’s philosophy, it will be interesting to see whether Wijnaldum can hold down his position but if he plays like he is at the moment, there’s absolutely no chance the ex-Newcastle United man will be losing his place.
3) Alisson is boss
He may have been at fault for Leicester’s consultation goal last weekend, but did it prove costly? This was the Brazilian ‘keeper’s first error leading to a goal in over fifty appearances, and I’m sure it’ll teach him never to try something so readable or predictable again.
Life at Anfield saw the ex-Roma man start with a hat-trick of clean sheets and although he was rarely tested, he was alert and aware when anything did come his way. In the victory over Brighton, Alisson pulled off a superb save to deny Pascal Gross just minutes from time. This was only the Seagulls second shot on target so it would’ve been easy for him to have lost concentration throughout the ninety minutes, which is something we’ve definitely seen of late with Liverpool goalkeepers.
4) Robertson one of division’s best full-backs
Following Andy Robertson’s move from Hull City last summer, many were left disappointed that the club hadn’t splashed out megabucks on a position that has been a constant problem area for years. Just over 13 months later though, fans across the Premier League are debating whether the newly appointed Scottish captain is the best left-back in England.
Having struggled with his defensive game at the Tigers, the protection provided from Virgil van Dijk gives Robertson the license to bomb forward and cause havoc down the opposition’s wide zones. So far this season we’ve seen him link up with the likes of Naby Keita and Sadio Mane down that left-hand side to help carve and split teams open, especially ones playing with deep blocks. At the age of just twenty-four there’s absolutely no reason why he can’t keep getting and better.
5) The Reds are genuine title contenders
It may sound like I’m getting ahead of myself but there has been nothing to suggest for me so far why Jurgen Klopp’s side can’t challenge for the title. The opening win over West Ham was by far the highlight of the four, which isn’t surprising considering how poor the Hammers have looked so far this campaign.
The three wins since haven’t been as glamourous as many would’ve hoped, but the fact is the Merseysiders have still come out with the victories. I don’t always agree that digging out victories is ‘a sign of a Championship winning team’, but on this occasion I definitely do. Last season the Reds drew twelve games, eight more than champions Manchester City. Last week’s performance against Leicester City, and maybe even the win over Brighton, would’ve probably ended in draws last year but so far, the Reds have managed to grind out that little bit more and keep compact at the back.
However, consistency is now key going into a busy few months, made even more hectic with the start of the Champions League group stage fixtures.