Van Dijk And Now Gomez: Liverpool’s Defensive Crisis Makes January Signing Essential For Klopp

Van Dijk And Now Gomez: Liverpool’s Defensive Crisis Makes January Signing Essential For Klopp

The Reds’ bottom line has been decimated by injuries this season, which means they must surely dive into the market in the New Year.

And to think that some people call this “the international break”.

Certainly there is no rest for Jurgen Klopp, who must wonder if he ran over a black cat or 10 at the start of this season.

Good luck Liverpool? Yes of course. The news from St George’s Park was grim. Another defender, another injury, another bad one, it seems.

Poor Joe Gomez. If any player deserves a bit of luck, it’s him, but the noises from England’s pitch are far from positive after the 23-year-old suffered a knee injury during a training session on Wednesday morning.

Gomez, manager Gareth Southgate confirmed, had collapsed in agony with no other player near him. “I didn’t like that element,” admitted the England manager, although he understandably declined to speculate on the exact nature of the injury. “You have to wait for the scanners,” he added. Gomez, meanwhile, has returned to Merseyside, where he will be treated by Liverpool’s medical team.

For Klopp, it’s another headache, although he’s gotten used to it in recent weeks.

Since the start of the campaign, Klopp has lost Virgil van Dijk to a season-ending knee injury, has seen Fabinho, the emergency center-half replacement, fall with a hamstring problem and be without Joel Matip for five of the Reds. eight league games due to muscle problems.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, meanwhile, has not been seen since pre-season training camp in Austria due to a knee problem, with no deadline for the midfielder’s return at this stage.

Klopp has seen two of his new signings, Thiago Alcantara and Kostas Tsimikas, test positive for coronavirus and then suffer injuries. Sadio Mane, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri have also had run-ins with Covid-19, while Alisson Becker missed games, including the 7-2 blitz at Aston Villa, after a freak collision with a teammate in training.

On Sunday he lost Trent Alexander-Arnold to a calf strain that will keep the side for up to four weeks, and three days later he learns that Gomez, his most used center-back this season, will join him at the treatment table.

Those are three of his four sidelined first-pick defenders, and perhaps six of his strongest XI.

And it’s only November.

The fact that Liverpool are where they are, one point from the top of the Premier League table and in their Champions League group, is a testament to the mindset and team that Klopp has built at Anfield.

The Reds have become adept at dealing with adversity, taking setbacks in stride and coming out the other side. The way players – Rhys Williams, for example, or Nat Phillips – can step in and step up speaks volumes.

It looks like those two will be needed again in the next few weeks. Liverpool, like all clubs, face a congested November and a diabolical December.

They will play 12 games between November 21 and January 2, facing teams like Leicester City and Tottenham, the current top two, as well as Ajax, Atalanta, Wolves and Southampton, among others.

Klopp, then, will have to juggle like never before. It should rest and rotate, itch and change. He must trust and cajole, give opportunities to younger and marginal players. He will probably have to be creative, certainly as a center back, but also in midfield and as a winger.

There may be tweaks to the system, we saw one at Manchester City last weekend, and surprise picks. Liverpool cannot afford to cross their fingers and hope for the best. Not this season.

And when January rolls around, the champions are sure to be active in the transfer market. A new center-back is needed, whether Gomez is fit or not.

Liverpool, make no mistake, took a risk for this campaign. They bet they could get by with just three specialist senior central defenders.

They allowed Dejan Lovren to go to Zenit St. Petersburg and never replaced him. Fabinho, they estimated, could cover in case of crisis. Otherwise, they would turn to a young man.

And yes, they like what they see of Williams and Billy Koumetio, but asking a 19 or 17-year-old to do a man’s job as a central defender, at the top level, is unfair and unrealistic.

Koumetio has yet to establish himself at the U23 level, let alone the senior. Williams has done well when asked, but was playing at the sixth level of English football in March. The jump is huge.

Phillips is a solid character and performed admirably against West Ham recently, but Liverpool were set to sell him a month ago, and his suitors were clubs in the Championship.

Sepp van den Berg, who signed with top flight experience in the Netherlands a year ago, appears to be far from taking a first-team spot at the moment, and the Reds sold their other promising Dutch youth defender, Ki-Jana Hoever. , to the Wolves in September.

We have seen how difficult it is to find real and first-rate centrals. It’s not a position where obvious solutions come up, just ask Manchester United.

But a solution is what Liverpool must find, one way or another. Van Dijk will be out for the long haul, and even then it might take a while to get back to his best form. Gomez is out, Fabinho is out as well, and Matip’s track record suggests he will miss games sooner rather than later.

Klopp has always insisted that the club will not buy players just because people want it or because fans and experts believe they should. “That would not make sense,” he said in the summer, noting that the club has been quite successful doing things its own way in recent years.

He’s right, of course, but sometimes events force you to reassess. Sometimes plans have to be rebuilt or advanced. That is soccer.

Liverpool probably needed a new center back next summer in any case. Now, they must catch it in January if they can.

It could well be the difference between success and failure this season.

source: – target

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