Liverpool have to buy proven class in January to stay in top-four hunt
Liverpool have withstood moments without certain star players this season. Prior to the recent defeats at Manchester City and Chelsea, Liverpool had took 10 points in the five Premier League games that Luis Suarez missed, had won four of the six league games without Daniel Sturridge and both without Steven Gerrard.
Aside from Sturridge and Gerrard, Liverpool are also now without defenders Mamadou Sakho, Sebastan Coates, Jose Enrique and John Flanagan, alongside Joe Allen in midfield.
Throw in that Jordan Henderson isn’t fully fit and the squad is slightly more than stretched. Sakho and Allen picked up their knocks in the Chelsea defeat and Brendan Rodgers was already forced to name 16-year-old Jordan Rossiter and young Australian Brad Smith on the bench, with the latter needing to come on.
The problem for Rodgers is not only that inexperienced, young players are being forced onto the substitute’s bench, much of the first team are being forced to play every 90 minutes.
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini wasn’t best impressed with the Xmas fixture list in the Premier League, despite having the luxury of making six changes from the victory over Liverpool to that which beat Crystal Palace, both of which were played at home.
Maybe Pellegrini should spare a thought for Rodgers, who had two of the toughest away games in the period, with a far shallower squad depth to select from.
The two defeats have resulted in Liverpool falling to fifth in the Premier League, despite going into Xmas on top of the table. What a difference a week makes.
Key now for Liverpool is not only getting more numbers into the squad in January, but buying players that are already proven, even if these are on loan or short-term deals.
Henderson is a fine example of a player that has improved substantially over time and young players with potential have been the bedrock of Liverpool’s recent transfer activity.
However, Liverpool could see their top-four aspirations die for another season if continuing this transfer policy in January, as the time is not there for players to have 10 games to adjust to the speed and physicality of the Premier League.
The reported loan signing of Barcelona youngster Cristian Tello threatens to be promising, but he by no means is certain to prove an instant success. A look across Merseyside has shown the benefits Everton have found in pacing the emergence of Gerard Deulofeu into the first team.
At least Tello is three years older and far more experienced at having received first-team experience.
Ghana’s Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu is another player linked from Udinese and some more cover in central midfield would be beneficial, while Mohamed Salah from Basel looked a big threat when scoring in both Champions League showdowns with Chelsea this season.
After their back-to-back defeats, Liverpool’s odds are now 10/1 to win the Premier League and 10/11 to finish in the top four.