With time running out in the January transfer window, it is looking less likely with each passing hour that Liverpool are going to attend to many of their major needs, especially since manager Brendan Rodgers intimated that defensive reinforcements were not on his agenda.
While most supporters have been crying out for a defensive midfielder, the latest positional regeneration of Steven Gerrard—not to mention the altered role for Philippe Coutinho; see Matt Ladson's break-down for more—means that there are at least numbers and different skill-sets for the boss to pick from in that area.
Numbers, if not exact roles, should be filled.
However, that is at least partly dependent on Liverpool adding another name into the front three group. It appears that Yevhen Konoplyanka is the new favourite to be that name, as per Chris Bascombe in the Telegraph.
Alterations and Rotations
Konoplyanka's ability to play on either flank gives Liverpool not only the chance to rotate players a little more as needed, but also to have a stronger impact player on the bench when games aren't going their way.
It would not be unreasonable to think that Konoplyanka could be that sub, at least at first, given the recent form of regular starters Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling.
But, as Liverpool move into the final two or three months of the season, the games will come close together, especially if they continue their FA Cup run. As much as having different types of players can be of benefit, Rodgers may also appreciate being able to change like-for-like without losing quality.
A switch of Konoplyanka and Sterling down the right, for example, would not see the Reds lose their width, pace or threat to break infield behind the full-back.
Pressure for Places
It's visible in other areas of the pitch: competition for positions can lead to increased performances.
A lack of competition, however, can often be a contributing factor in performance levels dropping off significantly.
Liverpool's team is not so strong all-round that they can afford for the attackers to drop off as they move into the critical home stretch of the season; they must keep creating chances and outscoring others at times to take points.
Another established quality international to keep those already performing well at that level can be no bad thing for the Reds.
The other aspect to consider is end product in the final third—and most pertinently, where goals would come from if Suarez and Sturridge were unavailable. After 23 and 13 league goals apiece for those two, Steven Gerrard is next-highest on six—and the header against Everton was his first in open play in more than a year.
Konoplyanka could arguably be expected, even with some appearances off the bench, to contribute an additional four or five goals in the last 15 league matches. The wide forwards have to be able to contribute in this way if the push for the top four is to be maintained.
Playing for fourth-placed Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk at present in Ukraine, Konoplyanka has five goals in 16 games, a significant improvement on last season's haul of just two.
By himself, it would be unreasonable to expect a new entrant to the Premier League to have the blistering kind of impact that, say, Andrey Arshavin had after arriving some years ago.
But if he helps others already at the club to flourish over the final months, Liverpool's attack could well get them over the finish line in fourth this season. And, of course, Konoplyanka himself will be hoped to have a far more long-lasting impact than Arshavin managed.
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