Jurgen Klopp’s First-Choice Liverpool XI Has Never Played Together This Season
Liverpool are 20 games into their Premier League title defence - but Jurgen Klopp has never at any point been able to select his first-choice XI.
Injuries have struck the Reds badly, particularly in central defence, with Virgil van Dijk's ACL injury in October putting him on the shelf. But even before that potentially season-ending injury, Klopp was never able to pick his best side.
Football journalist Andrew Beasley's stats show that the Reds have had 16 different centre-back combinations this season. He suggests the best of the lot (Van Dijk and Joel Matip) have spent just 11 minutes minutes together on the pitch - and that was with Adrian in goal, because Alisson was injured.
Liverpool have now had 16 centre-back pairings in 2020/21, and perhaps the best of them all has played 11 minutes. pic.twitter.com/z2xaeJzJR7- Andrew Beasley :blue_heart: (@BassTunedToRed) January 28, 2021
Even if you think that Van Dijk and Joe Gomez are Liverpool's best centre-back pair (they were the most frequently used last season), they have only played together four times this season. And due to various absences around them, it's never been a full-strength side.
Last season's first-choice Klopp team was: Alisson; Trent-Alexander Arnold, Van Dijk, Gomez, Andy Robertson; Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, Gini Wijnaldum; Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane.
That XI hasn't started a game together this season. Even if you think Wijnaldum should be swapped with, say, Thiago Alcantara as first choice this season - well, sorry, it still doesn't make for an XI (see below) that has played together in 2020/21.
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Injuries have hit Liverpool hardest in central defence, with Gomez and Van Dijk long-term absentees. The Reds scored an impressive 3-1 win at Tottenham on Thursday, to end a winless five-game run in the league.
But there was a price paid as Matip came off injured at half-time, while Fabinho - a midfielder filling in at centre-back already - missed the match entirely. The likes of Rhys Williams and Nathaniel Phillips have been unexpected regulars this season, with captain Henderson also filling in at the back (as he did against Spurs).
Klopp has admitted that the club will be looking to obtain defensive cover before the winter transfer window closes on Monday.
Mad to think Gomez and Van Dijk are our 3rd most used CB partnership this season https://t.co/2gZzKW3YSQ- Mike Kent (@mikekent90) January 28, 2021
Here is the reason we won't win the league. Never known anything like it. One position to be completed decimated. I've also not seen everyone & I mean everyone agree we need to sign a CB - even the FSG cheerleaders. https://t.co/k8YDhxYhkI- Kevin :trophy:x19 (@KDLFC14) January 29, 2021
What's for certain is that Liverpool will have to play their forthcoming games without their three best centre-backs. So clearly Klopp won't be able to pick his best team any time soon (possibly for the rest of the season).
Are Liverpool's injury woes the main reason they are currently fourth in the table and four points behind Manchester City? Let us know in the comments.
Featured image credit: PA Images
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