Liverpool

How Liverpool Can Make The Top Four Without Injured Lallana

 • by Sam McGuire
Share:facebooktwitteremail
news now

Liverpool’s hopes of finishing in the top four this season have been dealt yet another blow with Adam Lallana being ruled out for up to a month with a thigh strain.

Lallana, who arrived in the summer of 2014 for a reported £23million, is having his most successful season in red. He’s seen his fine form – seven goals and seven assists in the Premier League – rewarded with a new contract worth £110,000-per-week.

He is now set to miss matches against Everton, Bournemouth, Stoke City, West Brom, Crystal Palace and Watford. Upon his expected return he would have just the three matches to impact Liverpool’s season, that is if they’re still in contention for a top four finish.

READ MORE: WHY ADAM LALLANA HAS TO PLAY IN THE LIVERPOOL MIDFIELD AND NOT AS PART OF THE ATTACKING TRIO

A series of injuries has threatened to derail their promising early season form and the ex-Southampton midfielder is the latest player to fall victim. Jürgen Klopp’s men now head into the second Merseyside derby of the season without the services of Lallana and captain Jordan Henderson – two thirds of his first-choice midfield.

The latter is on close to returning to action but it’s unlikely he’ll be risked against Everton. Had he been fit, it would have been a simple switch with Henderson replacing Lallana in the starting eleven.

The midfield would then have a rejig with Gini Wijnaldum playing the supporting role in attack and contract rebel Emre Can partnering the No.14 in a withdrawn position. 

READ MORE: IS JORDAN HENDERSON’S FUTURE AS A BOX-TO-BOX MIDFIELDER?

The former Borussia Dortmund manager has had to cope without the injured duo for a sustained periods of time throughout the campaign but never at the time time. It will be a real test for the remaining midfielders if they’re to replace the high energy both players bring to the starting eleven.

It’s a predicament with no obvious answer but one that Klopp is paid the big money for to come up with answers to. We’ve taken a look at the possible ways the Liverpool midfield could line-up.

Lucas

In the Anfield HQ report which broke the Lallana news, it suggests that Lucas could start in midfield. It would be a brave decision by Klopp to start the 30-year-old midfielder in what’s expected to be a high intensity derby.

The Brazilian has never been the most agile and with age his boots have become even more heavily laced in lead. The Everton midfield of Idrissa Gueye, Morgan Schneiderlin and Tom Davies has the potential to run rings around a flat-footed Lucas.

In a defensive set-up, Lucas as the deepest midfielder may not be the worst idea but this match looks set to be open and you need to fight fire with fire – movement and power vs movement and power.

There’s a reason he’s looked much better in a centre-back role this season.

Philippe Coutinho

Since his return to fitness in January, Coutinho has been lukewarm at best. He looks like a completely different player to the one who tore up the Premier League earlier on in the season and looked destined to finish the campaign with double figures in both goals and assists.

READ MORE: CAN LIVERPOOL’S BRAZILIAN MAGICIAN REDISCOVER HIS FORM?

He’s scored just once, against Leicester City, and assisted just the one goal, against Plymouth, since his return and although he looked the part while away with Brazil he’s yet to do so in red.

His best performances since the turn of the year have come in a central midfield role, usually when playing in a 3-4-3 system. The more involved he is in central areas the more chance there is of something special happening.

He’s showed in the past he has the physicality to play in a deeper role. He even excelled there during the 2013/14 season and put in one of his best performances in a 4-0 win over Saturday’s visitors.

Klopp has been reluctant to use him there but his hand may now be forced.

Roberto Firmino

Now here’s a bit of a wildcard.

Firmino has played as a false-nine and a as a left-winger – of sorts – at times this year to varying degrees of success. The former was a success story whereas the latter seemed to nullify him.

He thrives when in central areas. Playing the Lallana role, which is a hybrid of a centre-midfield and an attacking midfield role, may suit the former Hoffenheim man.

WATCH FOOTBALL WHISPERS TV – THE SCIENCE OF FOOTBALL HERE

The Brazilian started life as a defensive midfielder, he’s one of the best defensive forwards in the world and he’s one of the best pressers in the Liverpool team. He’d be able to replicate Lallana’s high energy performances as well as his goal threat from a slightly deeper role.

Ben Woodburn

Thought you couldn’t think anymore outside of the box than playing Firmino in centre-midfield? Think again.

Woodburn, as the tweet alludes to, has played in a midfield role this season for not only the Liverpool U23’s but for the first team too against Burnley during the 2-1 win recently. He was certainly operating in central areas against Sean Dyche’s men.

He’s creative, good on the ball and has the ability to carry the ball forward. However, the derby will see the centre-midfield take centre stage and it may be a little too much too soon for the 17-year-old. People did say that about Mario Götze though and it never stopped Klopp…

READ MORE: WHY LEANDRO PAREDES IS THE PERFECT SIGNING FOR LIVERPOOL

related
content