Three areas Liverpool must strengthen to secure top-four finish
Kieran Beckles takes a look at three areas Jurgen Klopp must address if Liverpool harbour top-four ambitions
Competition for Mignolet
Simon Mignolet may have signed a new five-and-a-half year deal earlier this month, but the Liverpool goalkeeper’s future is still far from certain. Speaking on BT Sport on Saturday, Glenn Hoddle and Steve McManaman appeared to suggest that Mignolet’s contract was purely to add value to the shot stopper with his previous deal running down. Liverpool have conceded 32 times in 23 Premier League games and have the worst record at defending corners in the Premier League. While Mignolet would surely point to his clean sheet record in 2015 in his defence, Klopp must at the very least acquire a goalkeeper who can push the Belgium international for a starting spot. Whether Danny Ward can provide such competition and allow Klopp to avoid spending transfer funds on a new goalkeeper won’t become apparent until the Wales international gets some first-team action. Adam Bogdan clearly isn’t a marked improvement on Brad Jones.
Another factor behind Liverpool’s poor defensive record is the lack of an established centre-half partnership. When fit, Martin Skrtel is an automatic starter but who partners the Slovakia international? Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho are both prone to an untimely bout of nerves. The Croatian is a better passer of the ball, but Sakho is a more commanding centre-half. Neither, thus far, have convinced and Klopp may need to sign a new centre-half if he wants to strengthen the spine of the side. Although Steven Caulker’s loan move has provided a temporary solution for Klopp, the Queens Park Rangers defender has made his only two appearances as an unorthodox striker.
A striker that fits Klopp’s vision
The former Borussia Dortmund manager either doesn’t fancy Christian Benteke or the Belgium striker isn’t doing enough to prove that he can fit into Klopp’s vision for Liverpool. The 25-year-old summer signing was left on the bench for their trip to Norwich City and didn’t get amongst the goals in the 5-4 win despite his late appearance. Liverpool’s pursuit of Alex Teixeira suggests Klopp wants to persist with his front-line containing nifty attacking midfielders but not out-and-out striker. Although running in five goals suggests Liverpool don’t need to bolster their numbers up front, the Reds have struggled to convert their dominance into goals in recent months, particularly at Anfield.