Jurgen Klopp’s attacking headache: Who should start up top?
Since the arrival of Jurgen Klopp back in October, the main focus at Anfield has been high pressing intense football. The German has tried to introduce gegenpressing to the squad; the idea being that when his side loses the ball, instead of dropping back covering gaps, they push up to try to win it back in the opposition’s half.
This change in tempo has also meant a change in personnel. Klopp is now aiming to bring in players that will run their socks off for 90 minutes, no matter what. Last season saw him change to a 4-3-3 formation, playing Roberto Firmino up front with Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana behind. Lallana has come on leaps and bounds under Klopp’s supervision, and the trio’s work ethic helped the Reds reach the Europa League final.
However, with a big reshuffle at the club over the summer so far, Klopp has a lot to think about when it comes to going forward. A headache he would prefer to have is one that the fans aren’t used to in recent years, with the likes of David N’Gog or Andriy Voronin playing back up. Now, Liverpool’s forward players going into the new season include: Daniel Sturridge, Firmino, Christian Benteke, Mario Balotelli, Coutinho, Lallana, Divock Origi, Danny Ings, Sadio Mane, Georginio Wijnaldum, Sheyi Ojo and Lazar Markovic.
The seemingly never-ending list is exciting for fans, and it leaves all 12 players fighting for what will probably be three starting places. The Reds face up against Arsenal in their opening game, where Klopp’s men will have to be on the front foot throughout to upset Arsene Wenger’s tidy, patient side.
With the news that Sturridge is out injured, Klopp must start with Firmino, Coutinho and Mane up front. Sturridge is an immense talent, and one of the best finishers in the league on his day. His absence will be a big miss to the side, but his pace will be replaced by new signing Mane.
Firmino deserves his starting spot purely on the basis of last season. He adapted brilliantly in Sturridge’s absence, playing as a number nine rather than his more familiar number 10 role. The Brazilian scored a cracker against the Gunners at Anfield, so he should beat an out-of-favour Benteke to the number nine position.
There isn’t much I need to say about Coutinho. The 24-year-old was the star man for us yet again last season, with some fans amazed we still have him despite not qualifying for the Champions League. Coutinho can link up well with Firmino, as was shown so many times last year, especially at Manchester City.
The final attacking spot should be taken up by new signing Mane. His pace and trickery are what caught Klopp’s eye, and that’s exactly what he’ll have to use to unlock the Arsenal backline. With the service of Firmino and Coutinho, Mane can be released on the break to get in behind Arsenal, and his finishing looks sharper after a full pre-season under the German’s watchful eye.
One man who’s unlucky to not get a starting spot is Origi. The Belgian endeared himself the Liverpool fans with a hat-trick against Southampton, and a header against Everton. At only 21, he already has a great deal of experience and he is only going to get better. Give him time and opportunities and Origi will respond in style.
The variety of attacking options means exciting times are in store for Liverpool fans. And with potentially more money coming into the club through transfers (£30 million for Benteke and £10 million for Balotelli), there may be more flair players added before the window closes.