Peter sits down and talks all things LFC with Stu Wright from The Anfield Wrap.
How would you sum up Liverpools season so far?
For me ‘par’ would be 2pts per game to keep us in a strong position for a champions league place. This should be our base level of expectation, a place from which we can mount a challenge if we hit a hot–streak mid season. So at this point on 19pts after 11 we’re 3pts below par and that sounds about right as the season is yet to live up to our expectations going into it. It feels like we’ve never quite gotten into our stride so far, with too many annoying issues preventing us from getting into our rhythm. Coutinho’s absence, Mane’s red card and subsequent injury, Lallana, Clyne and a summer chasing a much needed centre-back who never showed up have all caused disruption to the manager’s planning. There have been explosive performances at home to Arsenal and Hoffenheim followed by implosive self-destructions away to City and Spurs more recently. Since Spurs the manager seems to have imposed a more controlled style upon the team, with us showing more of the patience needed to grind teams down. This could be an important step forward and to be honest it has felt somewhat of a relief to show we are capable of some routine wins rather than just relying on heavy-metal football that at times can be a little kamikaze if everyone isn’t 100% on their game. All that said, recent results mean we are handily placed going into the most intense period of the season. Now we just need that hot-streak…
Who has been the best performer for Liverpool in your opinion?
No brainer – Mo Salah. There have been other good performers such as Firmino, the resurrection of Albie and the development of both Gomez and Trent as genuine defensive options. Mane and Coutinho have been great when available – but nobody can match Mo for consistency, numbers and the Benny Hill goal against Arsenal. But it’s not just his speed and goals that have impressed me – his technique and work-rate are of a much higher standard than I anticipated. He’s a team player and seems to have integrated into the group with ease. We all love it when an exciting new signing hits the ground running (couldn’t resist that pun) and if he maintains his current trajectory we could have a really special player on our hands.
Which has been the best LFC performance this season?
The first half at home to Hoffenheim and the Arsenal game are probably the moments when everything has clicked we looked unstoppable. Unstoppable. This team is truly capable of living up to that description – a runaway train careering at its opponent head on.
Which has been the LFC worst performance?
Unfortunately we are learning a runaway train can also run off the rails. Spurs – and I’m not ready to talk about it!
Do you think Klopp will address the defensive problems by making signings in January?
Dear lord I hope so! But to be honest I’m not holding my breath. Klopp seems to have been reluctant to do too much business in January over the last couple of years, with the loan of Caulker the only one we’ve gotten over the line. This is almost certainly because the manager understands the demands he puts on his players, both in terms of fitness and tactical understanding – it takes time for players to get up to speed without the intensive work that can be done in a Klopp pre-season. So even if we were to get someone in, there is no guarantee they would force their way straight into the first team unless it was a special player or there were exceptional circumstances. I also think that our style of play means that even the great Franco Baresi would have looked exposed at times in this team as we put more emphasis on attack than defence. That said I still believe we can upgrade on what we’ve got. I’d love us to sign at least one centre-back but if we do and the manager gets the defender he wants, as a fan base we should try to resist any firm judgements on anyone we do sign until next season.
What are your hopes and expectations for the rest of the season?
At this point it looks like City will be tough for anyone to catch. Therefore it’s so important that we consolidate our position as a team who qualifies for Champions League football – prospective recruits need to look at Liverpool and feel confident that they’d be joining a team who will play in that competition every year. An exciting run in the knock out stages of the Champion League is also possible now our injured players are returning and on our day we’ve shown we can beat anyone. More than anything I’d love to win a trophy so we can that monkey off the manager’s back. And we all like a good day out in May.
Who would you sell/buy in January to strengthen the squad?
Don’t sell anyone – what’s the point?
I think there’s an argument that the whole spine of the team could do with strengthening but the priorities must be at centre-back and a keeper. As I said before though, I can’t see much happening but if we can get anyone in you’d expect it to be Van Dijk. It’s unrealistic to think that he would fix our defensive problems but at the very least he should be an upgrade to what we’ve got. Looking at his recent injury record though, don’t be too surprised if we splurge £70m on a player who’s hamstring pops within a month as he adjusts to Klopp’s demands. He would be a much-needed addition but I wouldn’t expect to see the best of him until next season.
Big thanks to Stu for giving us his thoughts on LFC