First came the injury to Virgil van Dijk to send shockwaves through Merseyside and the world of English football. How would Liverpool cope without the imperious Dutchman? Surely they wouldn’t. But they did. In came Fabinho, almost replicating the work of his now injured teammate. But then came his injury blow.
So, the question arose again. How would Liverpool cope without their best defender and now seemingly the next best thing? Surely they wouldn’t was the answer. But, again, they did. Up stepped Joe Gomez; up stepped his previously unseen leadership qualities, replicating the work of his now absent teammates, and Liverpool rose to second in the league, on course for another season of potential success.
Problem solved; Liverpool had found the man, next to even the inexperienced likes of Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams, to solidify their defence once more, until he suffered a season-ending injury, of course, to take that solution and throw it to the surrounding pack of wolves who now look readier than ever to pounce and feast on Liverpool’s recently reclaimed Premier League throne.
Yet, Jurgen Klopp won’t see this as a moment of despair, but rather instead an opportunity; a challenge; a chance to reinforce Liverpool’s mentality monsters tag which now, more than ever, must be proven to those eagerly watching on.
Liverpool Must Channel Mentality Monsters Tag Now More Than Ever
Jurgen Klopp is currently one of football’s most creative of minds; week in week out, he sets up a Liverpool side who look more tactically astute than almost every team in the world. But now he must become more creative than ever, not just tactically, but when looking for players to perform that tactical knowledge itself.
He has already proven his ability to adapt to the injury blows this season, too, by turning Fabinho from defensive midfielder to star centre-back with the flip of a switch, and utilising the Liverpool academy almost expectedly so.
Joe Gomez’s potentially season-ending injury puts a whole new spin on things in Merseyside, however. The Englishman looked certain to become better than ever in the absence of Virgil van Dijk before the Liverpool injury plague inevitably struck, adding to a list which already includes Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Thiago Alcantara and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
It looked as though Klopp’s problem had been solved, but, when your luck is out, it’s out. And Liverpool’s seems to have been evaporating since the lifting of their first-ever Premier League title.
The question, for the third time this season, will be posed to Klopp of just how Liverpool will cope. Previously, they’ve answered the question resoundingly. On this occasion, however, the answer may come out with a slight stutter as they search for solutions with just one fit senior centre-back to their squad who, even himself, has an injury-prone nature.
The fact is, the Reds must turn towards the academy with optimism. Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams must step up; must use this crisis as an opportunity in similar ways to how the likes of Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez rose to Anfield stardom. A crisis could become a career-maker for the two defenders should they excel when undoubtedly given the opportunity amid a congested fixture list.
January Transfer Window Can’t Come Soon Enough
With the arrival’s of Thiago, Tsimikas and Diogo Jota in the summer, many Liverpool fans were left satisfied, even without the addition of a central defender. Since the summer, though, things have significantly changed. Liverpool no longer have the safety net of van Dijk’s seeming immortality, accompanied by at least two other centre-backs. Now, they are down to one, maybe two, if midfielder by trade Fabinho, counts.
And, even then, Joel Matip is far from reliable on the injury front himself having only just recovered. Yet, here he stands or likely limps knowing Liverpool’s recent luck, as the last man standing in central defence. And, that will be the biggest worry for Jurgen Klopp who will know that, should any incident occur, a Matip injury will probably follow, going by the former Schalke man’s record.
And they can’t just wrap him up in bubble wrap, send him out to slalom forward in classic Matip style, and pray that injury never occurs. Liverpool must turn to the transfer market, though still two months away, and once again open their ever-heavying wallets to solve their defensive crisis.
The man they could turn to, according to Jan Aage Fjortoft, is RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano. The young defender has a release clause of just £42 million, a number easily within the Liverpool reach, and would instantly end their backline errors, potentially giving them the currently unexpected edge in the title race once more.
Liverpool Have Proven Mentality Monsters Tag in More Difficult Times
Jurgen Klopp’s rightfully named mentality monsters have more than proven their worth for the title in the past- in far more seemingly inescapable situations. They ran riot all the way to Kyiv before Loris Karius dropped the ball and any Reds hopes of reclaiming their European throne in the process.
Most sides would have endured the worst of mental hangovers after that fateful night. Liverpool didn’t wake with a headache and a sudden need for a glass of water, however. Instead, they only grew stronger; only improved. And, by the next year, they were lifting the Champions League in Madrid having completed the most miraculous of comebacks against Barcelona to reach the final itself.
They guided themselves past the impossible without Roberto Firmino, without Mohamed Salah and, for the second-half, without Andy Robertson. Players stepped up. The mentality monsters, with one corner taken quickly, rose from the ashes to reach the glory ending final in Madrid.
Now, players must step up again. The mentality monsters must prove their title and live up to it amid the most unexpected twists of the season so far. If any squad is capable of doing it, however, it is the one led week in week out by Jurgen Klopp; it is the reigning, defending, Premier League champions.
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