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Liverpool not ready to win Premier League title

Wednesday 7th December 2016
Liverpool have played some great attacking football up to now this season, but the defeat against Bournemouth highlighted the frailties in Jurgen Klopp's side. Despite a strong start to the Premier League campaign, Liverpool still need to improve in certain areas.
Liverpool sit third in the table, just four points off the top; Klopp's side regularly excite and entertain with their free-flowing style, which has seen them score 35 times this season in the Premier League, the highest amount of any team. Before their astonishing capitulation against Bournemouth, Liverpool were unbeaten in 11 league games, but their loss against Eddie Howe's side reiterated the need for Liverpool to address their weaknesses. As until they do so, points will be needlessly dropped, which makes winning the title extremely difficult. If not impossible.

This Liverpool side is reminiscent of the Arsenal teams of the past decade. They play attractive football, score goals for fun, and win games by big margins; however, when it comes to significant moments in a season, Liverpool are likely to come up short, just like Arsenal have become famous for. The spine of the Liverpool team needs strengthening before they can challenge for major honours.

Arsene Wenger addressed his problems by signing goalkeeper Petr Cech, central defender Shkodran Mustafi, midfielder Granit Xhaka, and converting Alexis Sanchez into the main striker. Klopp must also improve his squad in that regard: Loris Karius is the first choice goalkeeper, there's a lack of defensive backup, no world-class holding midfielder, and a makeshift striker. Can Liverpool win the Premier League title with that spine to their side?
Karius became Liverpool's number one keeper after Simon Mignolet's persistent unconvincing displays. Karius is still only 23-years-old, he has potential, but the young German has looked uncertain in his debut season. Bournemouth's late winner presented itself when Karius fumbled the ball; it's not the first time he's made mistakes this campaign. However, David de Gea took time to adjust to English football, so Karius shouldn't be written off just yet, but the Liverpool shot stopper must improve, quickly, as Klopp's side require a reliable presence between the sticks.

Liverpool are renowned for having defensive vulnerabilities, but the signing of Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren's return to form have slightly eased Klopp's worries. The pair has formed a solid partnership. However, if injuries occur, Liverpool face a problem. Matip was missing against Bournemouth and it was a major factor in the side's self-destruction. There's no adequate central defensive cover: Mamadou Sakho is out of favour, Ragnar Klavan is unproven, and Lucas isn't a natural centre-back. The attacking focus is admirable, but is it to the detriment of the defence?

To win the Premier League title, a team requires an effective holding midfielder. Liverpool have Jordan Henderson, a player who has rapidly improved under Klopp and was made club captain, but his best position is as a box-to-box midfielder. Emre Can can also play in a defensive midfield role; However, does the German international offer as much as the likes of Fernandinho and N'Golo Kante? Not yet he doesn't, which leaves Liverpool vulnerable at the back. Every successful side needs a Kante type of player to win back the ball, but Liverpool haven't found their own version.
The final piece that completes the spine of a side, the striker. Liverpool have one of the best goalscorers in the Premier League in Daniel Sturridge, but due to persistent injuries and not fitting into Klopp's system, he's only started four Premier League games this season. Instead, Roberto Firmino has established himself as the main striker. The Brazilian is a talented player who has scored five league goals this season. However, Alexis Sanchez and Diego Costa both have 11, and Sergio Aguero has 10. Can Firmino compete with the best strikers in English football?

The most recent Premier League champions, Leicester City, were strong down the centre of their team: Kasper Schmeichel, Robert Huth, Wes Morgan, Kante, and Jamie Vardy. Liverpool are deficient in this respect. So while Klopp's side will continue to score heavily, with contributions from Sadio Mane and Philippe Coutinho, unexpected defeats will occur due to a lack of solidity.

Either Liverpool's existing first team players and defensive reinforcements - Karius, Can, Firmino, and Klavan need to reach a higher level, or Klopp must strengthen his squad in the transfer window. As things stand, Liverpool are unlikely to win the Premier League title this season, and although the club's future looks bright under Klopp, the current team isn't ready to fulfil its potential.
Danny Glendenning

Passions include reading, sport, and nights out with friends. A football fanatic whose writing career began in May 2016. Now 30 years old, lives in South Yorkshire - local team is Doncaster Rovers, although heart lies with Arsenal. Contributing editor for It's Round And It's White. Current claim to fame is an interview with Ron Atkinson. Always looking for work, either editing or writing. Contact via email: Dannysg1988@outlook.com. Or Twitter: @DannySG1988.



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