Liverpool To Win The Premier League? Why The Next Steven Gerrard Can Launch Reds To Title Glory
Liverpool head to Watford this weekend unbeaten in the Premier League and as many people's pick to chase Man City down to the wire in the race for the Premier League title.
The mood amongst the Anfield faithful should be one full of optimism but that hasn't been the case in recent weeks with a series of limp displays undermining that impressive tally of points.
Jurgen Klopp has indeed turned this Liverpool squad from mid-table also-rans to genuine Premier League contenders in the last three years, but there is a sense that his job is far from done as he looks to claim the holy grail.
The attacking triumvirate of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino tick all the boxes in the goal scoring department, while the defence is now amongst the best in the world thanks to the additions of man mountains Virgil Van Dijk and Alisson to shore up a traditionally leaky back door.
Why so then, is there still a worry about the quality of this squad to mount a serious challenge for top honours come April and May?
Well, the answer is simple...the midfield.
There has never been any doubt about the engine room at Anfield with James Milner, Gini Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson terrific players in their own right but none of them are able to impact the game in an attacking sense on a regular basis.
The addition of Fabinho is unlikely to change that, even if he does finally settle in, given his defensive qualities and with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out injured and Adam Lallana showing that he is no longer up to the task, the cupboard does look bear.
For others? Not so much.
Xherdan Shaqiri has arrived and made an instant impact in around a variety of positions but the reasons why Nabil Fekir was a key target for Jurgen Klopp in the summer are now becoming abundantly clear.
The last minute medical issues which stopped the World Cup winner joining Liverpool were brushed off at the time but the need for a player with the ability to go past his man and create something out of nothing has been stark of late.
All of that leaves the German manager looking to his other big midfield signing from last summer to produce the goods...step forward Naby Keita.
The former Leipzig man arrived in the Premier League to much fanfare with an ability to just about do everything proven during his time in the Bundesliga but so far, the 23-year-old has not produced the expected level of quality.
The Ivorian has shown glimpses of his undoubted talent and should of course be allowed time to settle in, especially after picking up an injury, but there is a growing sense of urgency for the player to step up to the plate.
Not since Steve Gerrard have Liverpool had an all-round midfielder who can not only put his foot in a tackle but also create and or score a goal out of nothing. Keita has that talent in his boots, he has proven it at a high level and it is crucial for Liverpool that he starts to show it on a weekly basis.
James Milner has chipped in with his fair share of goals in a Liverpool shirt but most of those have come from the spot and there is a serious lack of penalty box threat in general from the usual suspects in the middle of the park. Relying on Wijnaldum, Henderson and Fabinho to create and score goals is not going to work, they all have their uses of course, but Klopp desperately needs to be able to add a sprinkle of stardust to that area of the pitch.
At his best, Keita is a glorious sight with the ball at his feet as he drives forward between the lines and if Liverpool genuinely have hopes of winning the Premier League this term, they are going to need that player to emerge, and quickly.
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