Liverpool FC: 5 Positions the Reds Must Get Stronger at Next Season
While Stewart Downing turned in his best performance in a Red shirt and deservedly claimed the Man of the Match award, the result was very much because of a team collective rather than any individual brilliance.
Indeed, over the course of a very profligate season thus far, we have learned that significant strengthening must take place this summer for Liverpool to truly compete in the English Premier League once more.
Here are five positions Liverpool must get stronger in next season, along with my two cents on potential signings—and feel free to suggest yours in the comments below.
Yes, Lucas Leiva is currently on his way back from a long-term injury. And yes, he has been one of the most improved and important cogs in the Liverpool machine.
But in his absence, Liverpool haven’t truly been able to find a natural replacement. And to step down from Lucas to the likes of Jay Spearing, Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson (with the latter two not specialist DMs) does the Liverpool game plan significant damage.
Of course, even when Lucas is at full fitness, there is still a minor contingent that suggests he is not truly world class at his position.
Whether or not that holds true, Liverpool would do well to find a like-for-like, and perhaps even better, replacement in the defensive midfield role.
And who’s to say that Lucas can’t play with a well-rounded midfielder as the base of a midfield five in a 4-2-3-1?
Vince’s picks: Yann M’Vila (Rennes), Cheick Tiote (Newcastle), Lassana Diarra (Real Madrid)
This is slightly different from the DM position, and I approach this with a straight 4-4-2 formation in mind.
Liverpool’s current central midfielders alongside Steven Gerrard are the aforementioned DM alternatives, Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson. And while both are comfortable and competent at the center of the park, they are not well-rounded enough to be considered a surefire starter.
Gerrard himself is on the wrong side of 30 and can no longer carry the team all by himself as he did in the old days.
Not to mention Gerrard's best position isn't in the center but further forward.
One or two further options must be considered if Liverpool are to push on as consistent Top Four challengers. Dynamic box-to-box midfielders with passing range, tackling ability and a goal threat don’t grow on trees, but they’re out there.
Dirk Kuyt might still be reliable as ever, but his powers are secretly on the wane. This is obvious to Kenny Dalglish, who has opted for Henderson and Downing as options out on the right.
But neither are specialist right wingers. Far from it.
Dalglish’s reluctance to use Gerrard in his highest goalscoring position leaves a serious lack of creative attacking outlets on Liverpool’s right wing, leaving right-back Glen Johnson as their most threatening attacking option down the right flank.
Contrast this with their left-sided options, and there is a strong need for reinforcements on the right wing.
Vince’s picks: Eden Hazard (Lille), Adam Johnson (Manchester City), Iker Muniain (Athletic Bilbao)
Liverpool’s attacking threat mainly comes from the left, with Jose Enrique mirroring his colleague on the opposite flank in providing quality attacking support, Craig Bellamy providing pace, creativity and finishing, and Stewart Downing seemingly coming into form.
But once we consider that Bellamy does not have the knees to be playing week in, week out, and that Downing still has the tendency to be completely anonymous in matches crying out for a creative spark, we can see that more support for Enrique is needed.
The need for a goal threat from the wings is ever more important now, and Downing does not provide this either.
Even if he doesn’t start every match, any potential winger, especially in a squad as deep as Liverpool's, should be one that strikes fear into opponents’ hearts when his name comes onto the fourth official’s board.
Vince’s picks: Lukas Podolski (Koln), Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid), James Rodriguez (Porto)
With an impeccable defensive record and a staggering number of total chances created, the only thing separating Liverpool and a lofty league finish is their finishing.
This has been a well-documented problem in Liverpool’s season.
For all of Luis Suarez’s creativity and dribbling ability, he is one of the Premier League’s most profligate finishers.
Andy Carroll has not been consistent enough, and while he has shown encouraging improvement in 2012, he has yet to replicate the stunning form he displayed to such excitement at Newcastle.
A world-class goalscorer is needed at Anfield if Liverpool are to live up to their increased expectations next season.
Vince’s picks: Falcao (Atletico Madrid), Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid), Edinson Cavani (Napoli)
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