- The Premier League is only one point behind Liverpool at the international break in November
- Reds to return in action at home against current champions Manchester City
- Confusion remains over Jurgen Klopp’s best midfield combination
Liverpool’s 2023/24 campaign has started in a somewhat unusual way.
Although they did not blow away many opponents as one might have expected given the high-quality players available to Jurgen Klopp, the Reds still felt that they had more to give and entered the international break in November just one point ahead of Manchester City.
Under Klopp, there is hope for another Premier League championship. While they’re right at the top of their table at this point, they need to improve if they want to surpass Man City and stay ahead of other teams.
Three areas Liverpool should focus on to return stronger from the break.
Prepare for Man City’s clash with perfection
After the break, we can move on to the big picture. But Liverpool has the toughest game on paper of the entire season.
On Saturday, 24th November at a very early time slot Klopp has complained about on numerous occasions. It’s not all bad news, though. Klopp has more time to plan the game than if it were three days following a Europa League match.
Melwood is not a training ground for many of the best players, so he must focus his efforts on theory. He can also work with those squad members that are present.
Liverpool’s victory will put them not only two points in front of Pep guardiola and his team, but it will also be the strongest message to send out about their ambitions for the title. If they lose, suddenly City will be four points ahead of them. City tends to improve with each passing season.
The best midfield combinations
The focus of the pre-season talk was on the rebuilding of Liverpool’s midfield.
The club lost an almost entire core of central midfielders in the summer, and brought on a new group. A number of the existing players were also injured. There was concern about the quality they could return to once fit.
Klopp has experimented and rotated his midfield a lot in the Premier League’s first 12 games, as he was dealing with European commitments. In the 18 matches of this season, Klopp has played a three-player midfield in ten different ways.
Alexis Mac Allister has started all four of his games with Dominik Szoboszlai, Curt Jones and Alexis Mac Allister. Klopp also uses Cody Gakpo on occasion as his most advanced midfielder.
Szoboszlai is almost unstoppable following a fantastic start in Liverpool. He has adapted well to the Premier League. Mac Allister has been playing the role of deep lying midfielder, but things are less smooth. Wataru endo, a surprise signing from summer, is also still used in rotation.
Klopp must decide which midfielders to play in the future, as Liverpool has had a lot of success with a defined starting line-up. He may prefer this rotation, with players such as Ryan Gravenberch and Curtis Jones occasionally starting. However, he has Stefan Bajcetic, and Thiago returning from injury.
The midfield trio that Klopp prefers for big matches will be revealed when Liverpool takes on Man City in the Etihad Stadium.
Jurgen Klopp wants you to be aggressive.
Under Klopp, Liverpool has always had a very aggressive team. However, it appears that the coach believes this aggression may have slipped over recent weeks. After the Europa League loss to Toulouse, Klopp was vocal in his criticism of the lacklustre performance.
We have proven that we can be an excellent team. Klopp adds, “But I want it right now.” We cannot allow what happened in Toulouse to happen. “We were not aggressive.” This was so simple.
I want to us learn from this. We can lose a game. I don’t know. We have to take it as a lesson to do the right thing. You need to be aggressive in order to win football games.
It is a similar situation to a few draws Liverpool has had in this season, as well as some victories which could have gone a little smoother. In the Premier League the Reds were accused of being too passive in their draws against Luton Town, Brighton, and Toulouse. These are fixtures that Klopp probably would have preferred to win.
Klopp will be looking to instill ruthlessness into his team as quickly as possible.