Jurgen Klopp has called it ‘Liverpool 2.0’, but the Reds are still in the middle of their revamp.
That was evident in their performance against Luton but there is no need to panic just yet. Jamie Carragher claimed the showing at Kenilworth Road proves the Reds are not yet ready to challenge Manchester City for the title.
We can accuse pundits of getting overly excited after one good performance, but maybe the former Reds defender was a tad bit negative after just one poor display. But what needs to change to make them title challengers again? Not a lot. So don't rule out a title challenge just yet despite Carragher’s fears.
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The Reds summer business centred around midfield, but the failure to land Moises Caicedo despite the arrivals of Dominik Szoboszlai, Alexis Mac Allister, Ryan Gravenberch and Wataru Endo led to concerns about the No 6 position. Fabinho headed for Saudi Arabia in the summer, but the Brazilian looked ready to be replaced in the role anyway.
Kop boss Klopp is still not sure of his best midfield despite some impressive performances in there this season. And the feeling is that Mac Allister as a makeshift No6 may not be the way forward.
The Argentina ace has so much quality on the ball but defensively he has vulnerabilities. That leaves question marks over why Japan international Endo has not been used more regularly.
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Klopp gave glowing accounts of the summer signing from Stuttgart when he arrived but the 30-year-old midfielder seems to be still acclimatising to the Premier League and life at Liverpool.
“With Endo just because of the age people think, 'Why is he not like that?'" said Klopp last week. “He is a different character to the other boys and you can see the steps he is making. He has another five years of top football in his legs. He has a lot of potential and never played on this level before, but now consistently I am really happy with him.”
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Klopp has been known to give players plenty of time to settle in. Fabinho didn’t feature regularly for the first couple of months of his time on Merseyside, while Andy Robertson was another who was slowly introduced.
It’s an area that does need to be addressed if Liverpool are to ensure they’re ready to challenge City. The loss of Robertson until the New Year is a huge blow in defence.
Joe Gomez stepped in out of position at left back at Luton but does not offer the same dynamism going forward, even if he was competent at the back. Kostas Tsimikas has bundles of enthusiasm but maybe not the defensive nous of his team-mates. But Robertson will return soon.
Klopp may feel he’s short a central defender to ease the burden on Virgil van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate, but when all four first-choice defenders are fit, Liverpool have a back line to match most.
Sunday’s draw at the Premier League new boys was a surprise, but it felt like they just didn’t click into top gear as they needed Luis Diaz's late header to cancel out Tahith Chong’s opener and rescue a point. The Liverpool boss seemed surprised and disappointed in their lack of pressing against Luton.
“What I didn’t like particularly was the first half we had 0.0 counter-pressing,” Klopp said. “That’s something I take personally, to be honest. I told the boys it’s not okay.
“I knew they actually wanted to do it, the question is why they didn’t do it. I have to figure that out, but I will. That’s not rocket science, probably. I’ll have to watch it back.”
When Klopp does watch it back, he will see that this was a performance just lacking the usual Liverpool intensity, rather than one which was of huge concern. Klopp knows better than anyone that to catch City you have to be perfect. They’ve been so-close to it in the past and still fallen short of Pep Guardiola’s side.
This Liverpool side is not perfect yet. It’s still a work in progress. Yet the rebuild is far enough underway that it could be ready for a title challenge this season. They just need to make sure performances like the one at Luton are rare while Klopp puts the finishing touches on his Liverpool 2.0 revamp.
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