The World Cup is reaching its final stages, with only a few Liverpool players still out in Qatar and helping to sports-wash the reputation of a murderous, oppressive regime. England’s exist at the hands of France means that Ibrahima Konaté remains out there, but Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson have returned home and will enjoy a short break before meeting back up with Jürgen Klopp and the rest of the team, with the same being true of Virgil van Dijk thanks to Argentina’s defeat of the Netherlands. That’s the good news, whilst the setback to Luis Diaz’s injury recovery is, as Klopp himself put it, a ‘real smash in the face’. Though Diogo Jota travelled with the squad out to Dubai, he has been doing recovery work and hasn’t been working with the rest of the team. It means that we’re looking a little bit lighter in attack than many would be happy with, though the chances of the manager wanting to dip into the market to help are slim to say the least.
Massive blow with 2 of our most potent attackers out for at least the next 2 months. Awful timing with it being the busiest time of season too. We have a chance to help ourselves in January though. #LFC
— Grizz Khan (@GrizzKhan) December 10, 2022
Many people will always point fingers at Fenway Sports Group when it comes to Liverpool’s transfer strategy, but the reality is that the manager has always suggested that he wants to work with a small squad. The reason the players are willing to run through metaphorical brick walls for him is that they feel as though he’s got their backs and he’s always willing to find ways to help them get their game time. The fact that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remains a Liverpool player is testament to that, for example. As a result, he’s unlikely to bring someone in if it would mean that the playing time of others might be limited. With Mo Salah, Darwin Núñez and Roberto Firmino all fit and firing, with the latter reportedly being offered a new contract, what good would bringing in a new forward player do when Diaz and Jota both return? Add in Fábio Carvalho and you can, at the very least, understand the manager’s thinking, even if you don’t agree with it. The question is, what does success now look like for Liverpool this season?
Top Four Is A Must
When it comes to transfer targets, everyone’s eyes are on Jude Bellingham. That the Borussia Dortmund midfielder excelled for England at times in the summer doesn’t help the chances of any transfer fee remaining low, but it is clear that he is Liverpool’s top target. There is a belief from some quarters that we won’t get him if we finish outside of the top four, but I’m not convinced that that’s the case. The decision of his family, who represent him, to send the player to Germany when big money offers were there from the likes of Manchester United back when he left Birmingham City suggests that his long-term future is their major concern. Whilst joining somewhere like Real Madrid might be his eventual goal, I don’t believe that he’s in a rush to get there and I think that his family will encourage him to make more sensible decisions. As long as Jürgen Klopp is at Liverpool, it makes perfect sense for Jude Bellingham to head to Anfield to keep improving as a player.
Despite being utterly shit somehow we are still in the top four shout. Spurs and United have lost as many as us and Chelsea are in free fall. Ok Arsenal are running away and City still have a lead but start well post the World Cup and we can climb quickly. #LFC
— Rahul Puri (@rahulpuri) November 13, 2022
Realistically, though, top four is a must for Liverpool. Whilst scraping into the top four wouldn’t have been seen as an achievement at the start of the season, we have had to adjust our sights because of what has happened in the campaign so far. Manchester City and Arsenal look like locks for top four places, meaning that there are almost certainly only going to be two left to share between us, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Newcastle United. Chelsea’s form of three losses and two draws in their last five gives us the upper hand, but Graham Potter is a good manager and he’ll have been working with a core of the players for the past few weeks so can’t be discounted. The Newcastle sports-washing project is working well but ahead of schedule give the top four challenge they’re mounting, so getting ahead of them could be really important to allow us to stay ahead of them. It isn’t a great aim to have for a club that’s hit the heights we have, but top four is a must.
A Trophy Isn’t Out Of The Question
Last season was a thrilling one and the fact that the Reds came closer than any other side has ever managed to achieving a quadruple has been largely forgotten thanks to how poorly this season has started. Though we ‘only’ ended up with the FA Cup and League Cup to show for our efforts, lifting trophies is never a bad thing. We have a tough draw against Manchester City in the League Cup, but given the fact that some big names have already gone crashing out if it, victory at the Etihad could see the draw really open up for us. It is a competition that I’ve always had a fondness for, though the fact that there are still two-legged semi-finals in normal seasons, let alone one as truncated as this, means that I suspect the manager won’t be devastated if we end up getting knocked out. The FA Cup hasn’t even started yet, but a home tie against Wolverhampton Wanderers feels very winnable given the form that they’re in so far this season and who knows what happens from there.
Jordan Henderson in the last few years has captained his club to every trophy he could win. Yet some think he shouldn’t play for England. Make it make sense. Superb captain #lfc #eng
— Jay Dorrian (@jaydorrian93) December 5, 2022
The big one, of course, is the one that evaded us last season. There will be a desire amongst many in the Liverpool team to right the wrongs of what happened in Paris when we take on Real Madrid in the last sixteen of the Champions League. There is a chance that winning the thing is our best opportunity to ensure that we’re still in it next season, with many thinking that the winner of our tie will become de facto favourites to make it to Istanbul. It will not be easy to take on the defending champions, especially considering the fact that the second-leg is in Spain. Real are two points off the top in La Liga and have only lost once so far, also losing a single match in their group and finishing it top. The only bit of good news is that Barcelona failed to get out of their group and they’re two points in front of Real in the Spanish league, suggesting that all is not perfect for Los Blancos. It hasn’t been a good season for the Reds, but we’re still well-positioned to emerge with some silverware.