Liverpool and their January priorities 4

Angus Taylor gives a fan’s perspective on Liverpool’s priorities in the Winter transfer-window…

Eleven games into the Premier League season, and the strengths and weaknesses of the squad can be seen; thankfully for Liverpool fans, it’s the former which are most prominent. In Suarez and Sturridge Liverpool are blessed with the best strikers in the league,seem to have a genuinely reliable GK in Mignolet and when Daniel Agger is sitting on the bench you know you have some decent defensive depth.

However, when tested against the very best in the division, the weaknesses became more pronounced. Weaknesses that need to be fixed in January if Liverpool are to finish above two of Arsenal, Chelsea, City, United and Spurs, which is what they will have to do to finish in the top-4 or make a genuine title-challenge.

And you can bet that the squad will be strengthened. That £20m forward that Rodgers was trying to sign in the summer is still out there and I would like to think that he would look to do business on top of that too. Thankfully, one £35m striker aside Liverpool seem to be very good at making signings in January. Since 2006, they have signed the following in the mid-season window: Coutinho, Sturridge, Carroll, Suarez, Maxi, Skrtel, Mascherano, Arbeloa, Fowler and Agger. If that doesn’t get you excited I don’t know what will.

There is one position that I was surprised Liverpool didn’t strengthen in the summer, and then astounded when it was weakened. I’m talking about the right-back position. Johnson is a fantastic player, he’s always been confident and effective on the ball and the view that he is poor defensively is outdated. But look beyond him and what do you have? Jon Flanagan. The youngster wasn’t actually that bad against Arsenal, but he is simply not good enough to be a 2nd choice right-back for a top-4 team which is why he must be improved upon. Andre Wisdom, I believe, is a more solid, reliable, and positionally-dexterious option, which made the decision to loan him out quite baffling - he’s not the standard of right-back that the club needs, but he is a preferable option to Flanagan.

So number one, another RB is needed, one that is fairly experienced and can also play RWB. If Liverpool are to play with wing-backs in the second-half of the season then that would be a sound investment. It would also keep Johnson on his toes; the one criticism you could make is that at times he plays as if he knows that there is no competition for his place.

A new left-back would also be welcome, even if it’s less likely. I have not been impressed with Cissokho at all, he offers little going forward and is weak in the tackle defensively. He looks like a player with no confidence or aggression, and while Jose Enrique is a much better option, he’s still not a satisfactory one. He is competent at playing as a left-back in a four-man defense, but his game is too limited to really excel as a wing-back. I would like us to sign a more capable LB: one who combines the attacking strengths of Johnson with the defensive capabilities of Enrique.

Finally, the forward who the club failed to capture in the Summer now needs to be secured. I would rather Liverpool signed a forward who is capable of playing wide as well as centrally. Players like Andriy Yarkemel and Yehven Konoplyanka have been mentioned, but the public pursuit of Henrikh Mkhitaryan gave a clear indication of the type of player Brendan Rodgers craves. I don’t believe an out-and-out striker is that necessary, even if beyond Sturridge and Suarez we don’t really have any options - because should one of the ‘SAS’ become unavailable, Rodgers could simply play with one striker. Against Arsenal, I think we saw the need for a midfielder capable of scoring goals: Coutinho is a very creative player but he is not a goalscorer and none of Liverpool’s other midfielders come close to looking like they could score 10 goals+ a season. Rodgers has talked about “flipping the triangle” before, referring to potentially using two attacking rather than holding-midfielders. If Liverpool could sign a goal-scoring midfielder to add to the Coutinho, Suarez, Sturridge mix, then a lethal attack could be further sharpened without sacrificing too much defensively - honestly, I don’t believe that Lucas and Gerrard offer that much without the ball as a combination. With another attacking-midfielder, Rodgers could pick and chose a midfield-three tailored for every situation within every game, if more energy is needed Henderson plays, or if we need to close a game out Allen can be introduced.

January is a big month for a Liverpool, and a real opportunity to both accentuate the squad’s strengths and remedy a few lingering frailties.

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