We don’t want to criticise Liverpool’s players, we want to get behind them – and will do at Anfield tomorrow night – but it’s clear that some individual levels need to improve in the coming weeks if we’re to get the season back on track.
Here’s five players who won’t be in the first-team much longer unless they fix up, with Liverpool’s January form a real worry.
5) Ragnar Klavan
Klavan’s a nice player, but he has a clanger in him. That much has been proven in our defeats to Burnley, Bournemouth and Swansea this term. Aged 31, he’s clearly not a long-term option for us at the back, although he’s a handy squad player to deploy in cups. Because of Joel Matip’s absence (first through injury and then through FIFA’s white tape), he’s been a regular recently and had a real howler last time out against Swansea. In fairness, for the money we spent on him, Klavan’s transfer has been largely a success, but he needs to improve if he expects many more appearances from now until the end of the season.
4) Dejan Lovren
The problem with Lovren is he’s either very good or very bad. As a centre-back, consistency is crucial and when he hasn’t got Joel Matip alongside him, Lovren is hit and miss. Having signed in 2014, Lovren is one of our longest serving starting regulars, and while he’s come on leaps and bounds from his nightmare debut season, the Croat still costs us points and makes poor decisions. Interestingly, Matip started alongside Joe Gomez in our latest U23 match. Could that be the long-term first-team partnership?
3) Divock Origi
The young Belgian went on a great run before Christmas, but has been lethargic since, not scoring for nine matches. His performance versus Plymouth in the FA Cup Replay, which included a missed penalty, was the lowlight of his January. It’s crucial to remember that Origi is only 21-years-old and we’re judging him on his better outings previously, but he’s going through a poor period and is visibly lacking confidence. Origi plays better when given space to run in to, which he’s been deprived of lately, in fairness.
2) Daniel Sturridge
Sturridge performed well against Sunderland on January 2nd, but has been poor since. The problem with the Englishman is his style is languid so when he’s not performing, he can look lazy and like he’s sulking. He probably isn’t, but it doesn’t help fan opinion – especially when the team are struggling. The 27-year-old’s scored just twice in nine games (although some of these have been from the bench) and in truth, he’s failed to fill in for Sadio Mane with the Senegalese at the AFCON.
1) Emre Can
The young German has definitely gone backwards this season. This isn’t to say he won’t eventually progress again, but in 2015/16 he was one of the first names on the team-sheet and now – most fans don’t believe he should have a spot in the side. Deployed as part of a midfield three with a freer role ahead of Jordan Henderson, Can’s been sloppy. He makes poor decisions and holds onto the ball for too long. There’s a feeling that he’s trying to show how good he is, sometimes. He’s very talented and blessed physically, yet he loses his 50/50s, or at least has been recently. Klopp has huge faith in his countryman, which means we should too – but it’s perhaps time Can exited the first-team for a spell to regain his confidence on the training field.