Liverpool have been lacking their typical edge in recent weeks, floundering at almost every turn since demolishing Crystal Palace 7-0 in the Premier League.
There have been several theories as to why that is – with the forwards, Virgil van Dijk’s injury and bizarrely Trent Alexander-Arnold being hit with the blame.
But Sky Sports’ Paul Merson has seemingly hit the nail on the head with his latest assessment of the situation at Anfield.
Our No.23, Merson says, isn’t going to put in the big tackles the Reds need in the centre of the park and is better suited playing off the ball.
“This team was the best team in the world without the ball Everybody knew their jobs,” he said. “When one went, they all went, they suffocated teams and won the ball back quickly.
“When you have to make changes and players aren’t fitting like van Dijk and you have to put Henderson back or Fabinho. Shaqiri, I like him he’s a good footballer, but he’s not going to win you the ball back. And that was Liverpool.”
He makes an excellent point – with Henderson and especially Fabinho taken out of midfield, the Reds are lacking the steel typically employed in the heart of the team.
In the absence of van Dijk and Joe Gomez, Jurgen Klopp has been forced to get creative with his team selections and it’s seen many centre-back partnerships thus far.
Liverpool take on Manchester United in the FA Cup this weekend, where we’re likely to see one of Fabinho or Joel Matip partner either Rhys Williams or Nat Phillips.