Liverpool Roundtable #2: Early Season Thoughts

After a poor first game of the season away to Watford, Liverpool recorded their first three points of the year, grinding out a scrappy 1-0 win against Crystal Palace on Saturday. Jürgen Klopp’s side have continued to look as threatening as ever going forward, but early questions have been raised about their defensive capabilities. Writers Aidan Semple, Vesko Trajkovic, James Plumb and William Frost give their thoughts on mixed start to the season for Liverpool.

Liverpool Roundtable #2: Early Season Thoughts

Following a solid debut from Andrew Robertson on Saturday, who should Liverpool start at left-back going forward? 

Aidan: Liverpool still have the options of James Milner and Alberto Moreno at left-back, but going forward the 23-year-old is an exciting prospect to be the number one choice. Robertson was fairly solid defensively on Saturday and looked excellent when contributing in attacks. His distribution and in particular his crossing were impressive.

Vesko: There is no doubt whatsoever that Robertson has shown a lot more promise than Moreno. Milner is needed in midfield, so he deserves the chance to nail down the starting spot.

James: Moreno has no place in this Liverpool side; his occasional offensive threat does not make up for his lack of defensive ability. Robertson, on the other hand, barely put a foot wrong against Palace at the weekend and knows when to attack and when to stay put. He should start for sure.

William: Robertson should be Liverpool’s starting left back. Klopp has said that Milner is the “new midfielder” for the squad and therefore won’t be the first-choice left-back. Whilst Moreno may have saved his place at the club in pre-season, he should stay on the bench.

Would signing Virgil Van Dijk solve the Reds’ defensive woes, or do the problems run deeper than that?

Aidan: The problems do run deep with Liverpool defensively, but don’t underestimate how big an impact Virgil Van Dijk could potentially have. The problems at set pieces are caused by poor organisation through zonal marking, and finding a solid, consistent centre-back partner for Joel Matip is essential. Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan have failed to offer that, and Van Dijk may be the missing piece, as he is one of the best defenders in the Premier League.

Vesko: No, not all of them anyway. Van Dijk is a terrific player and his presence would greatly strengthen the defence, but Liverpool’s style of play is such that the defence is often exposed. Shaky moments will occur, even with van Dijk at the back. As for the set-pieces issue, it’s more about organisation than players’ quality, but the 26-year-old might help by using his commanding personality.

James: Signing Van Dijk would certainly improve the situation, but the defensive flaws are in the system, regardless of who plays at centre-back. Signing Van Dijk would only go someway to improving it.

William: IHaving a competent defensive partner alongside Matip would certainly do wonders to tighten the back four, but the mentality within the side which has caused the Reds to struggle since Daniel Agger left. Van Dijk can be the catalyst to changing that mentality, but if Moreno is still playing it would be much like treating a gunshot wound with a plaster.

Trent Alexander-Arnold looked impressive in his first two games. Could he realistically take the starting place from Nathaniel Clyne this season? 

Aidan: Expect to see Nathaniel Clyne and Trent Alexander-Arnold both get opportunities at right-back. Clyne is Klopp’s first choice, but the 18-year old will have more opportunities to impress this season, as Liverpool have a congested schedule to manage. His performances so far have been composed and professional, particularly against Hoffenheim in the Champions League qualifier, but he still has a lot to learn.

Vesko: Alexander-Arnold shows lack of experience in certain moments, but with game-time it’ll get much better. He’s fast, strong, clever, responsible, good on the ball, and a good set-piece taker. Clyne will have to come back guns blazing even to think of keeping his spot.

James: There is no doubt that the youngster is an exciting prospect, but with equal talent already available in Clyne, there is no need to rush him into the team. Without doubt, however, he deserves to play a large part in the campaign.

William: Chances will come for him to prove that he deserves the starting spot, but he has been caught out of position too many times early on for him to have nailed down that spot in Clyne’s absence. There will be little comparison when he has matured.

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