Five things Liverpool must do to turbocharge Premier League title bid - including big Darwin Nunez call
Liverpool are currently just one point behind Premier League leaders Manchester City.
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Fans expected an improved run of form after their positive end to last season but a shot at the title perhaps wasn't expected by many. But there they are — the Reds challenging at the top of the table once again, piling the pressure on Manchester City.
Usually, the table at Christmas time paints an idea of how it will look at the end of the season. Can Liverpool keep this momentum going and end Pep Guardiola's reign? We've highlighted five key things Jurgen Klopp and co must do between now and the end of the season to keep their title charge alive.
Revisit their search for a No.6
Liverpool's entire summer transfer window was laser-focused on plugging the gaps left by the five midfielders who left the club. In among the exodus was the captain and vice-captain, as well as Klopp's no-nonsense, ever-reliable first choice No.6.
Since Fabinho's exit, the Reds have struggled to bring in a like-for-like replacement and seriously dropped the ball with their attempts to sign number one target Roméo Lavia. While Wataru Endō has settled in nicely and fans are already fond of him, his transfer seemed more of a panicked decision rather than a tactical approach.
The Japanese international was expected to slot straight into the starting lineup but he has started just one Premier League match this season, and was left on the bench on four occasions in favour of the more attacking-minded Alexis Mac Allister.
Prior to the summer exodus, Liverpool had a number of senior players they could rely on in the defensive midfield role. Now, options are limited and while their attack might be on fire, the Reds need an equal balance in defence too. They've already highlighted some potential targets for January and bringing one of them is probably at the top of their priority list.
Explore new full-back options
The injury to Andy Robertson was undoubtedly a major blow for the Reds and the Scot is not expected back until 2024. Kostas Tsimikas has stepped up to the plate but there is now no back-up on the left. Equally, Trent Alexander-Arnold is currently the only fit right-back on the roster, with the recently integrated Conor Bradley also out of action.
Robertson and Alexander-Arnold have been such a formidable duo but there is always the fear of injury striking. Klopp can't afford for any of his remaining full-backs to take even a minor knock, as that could expose a serious weak point within the team. A priority in the January window should definitely be a man for the left or right — ideally both — side of the back four.
Consider a James Milner 2.0
James Milner divided a few opinions during his final years at Anfield, with many groaning every time he took to the pitch. But the versatile midfielder often came up clutch for his side with his ability to play almost anywhere on the pitch.
During his time with Liverpool, Milner played across pretty much every position in the midfield and operated at both left-back and right-back during an injury crisis. The veteran is the fourth oldest player to ever feature for the Reds and his fitness levels never seemed to struggle either. While he became far from a first choice at Anfield, Klopp knew if he needed a reliable man to get the job done in an unfamiliar position, Milner would give it his everything.
Players as versatile as Milner aren't too common but if the Reds could invest in someone of his calibre, it could help ease concerns around injuries.
Address depth and rotation
That brings us onto Liverpool's depth. While Klopp's attack is nicely stocked, there are still some concerns in other areas. We have already highlighted how the Reds are one full-back injury away from a real problem but some recent injury updates have also raised the concern over rotational options.
Sadly, fitness issues are no new surprise for Liverpool. Over the years, the Reds have had torrid luck with recurring injuries, with the likes of Adam Lallana, Daniel Sturridge and Naby Keïta just a few players who never seemed to stay fit for too long. Last season, a worrying stat emerged revealing that Liverpool had the worst injury record in the whole of the Premier League.
Recent fitness issues within the squad saw Klopp without a number of usual names on the team-sheet to face Brentford. Ibrahima Konaté, Joe Gomez and new signing Ryan Gravenberch were amongst those absent from the team. While these problems have only been reported as minor, it's still clear evidence that injury can strike at any time, and it can also arrive in abundance too. January will prove to be a great opportunity for Liverpool to bring in some more fringe players to avoid unexpected injury harming this potential title run.
Continue to trust Nunez
Since his arrival, Darwin Núñez has come under a lot of scrutiny, often directly compared to the high-flying Erling Haaland who is simply devastating for Manchester City. We recently took a look at how Núñez could be following a pattern from his time at Benfica, which saw him register an impressive debut campaign but paved the way for a real dominant 34-goal season after that.
Núñez is quickly becoming the reliable striker Liverpool have been needing. The Reds' winger game has always been devastatingly strong, but they have been without a typical No.9 for some time now. After his game-changing brace from off the bench against Newcastle United, the Uruguay international switched into a gear that has delivered 13 goal contributions in 17 appearances across all competitions so far this season.