EPL 2016-17: What's Jurgen cooking at Anfield?

Klopp will be eager to build on his good start at Liverpool
Naveen Ravi Joseph

They say all good things must come to end and that is what is happening at one of Europe's most decorated football clubs. The Great Bill Shankly build a legacy with historic nights at Anfield and Wembley. His pupil, Bob Paisley OBE, honoured the tradition by bringing European glory thrice at Rome, London at Paris. Others like King Kenny and Rafa gave some more nights to remember but somewhere in the new millennium a grim reaper was waiting for the mighty reds and it went by several names a la Roy Hodgson, Tom Hicks and George Gillet.

The reapers couldn't suck the life out of Liverpool as angels arrived in the form of Fenway Sports Group. There were some highs in 2012 at Wembley followed by a remarkable title race in 2013/14 which ended in vain but the club slipped to new lows in battles at Britannia Stadium, Selhurst Park, Wembley and even Anfield.

However, there is still some lease on life for the Reds as a crazy, funny and charismatic man from the land of beers and cars has stepped in and turned doubters into believers.

Also read: 5 reasons why Jurgen Klopp is the perfect choice for Liverpool

It didn't take long for Klopp to make an impact at Liverpool. He displayed what the Reds are capable of with some spectacular wins against the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, Southampton, Villarreal and Everton. However, consistency has been an issue. All the good work Klopp did during his first bout with Liverpool was undone after two cup final heartbreaks.

Ingredients for Klopp's special Anfield recipe

Alberto Moreno is yet to win the support of majority of the Liverpool fans

Klopp hasn't wasted time in bringing new faces to the club. Four first team players have arrived already while as many as nine players have bid adieu to their Liverpool careers and the latter number could double come September.

There have been some alterations behind the curtains as well. Jurgen Klopp has got back at Bayern for taking his Dortmund players by roping in nutritionist Mona Nemmer and fitness coach Andreas Kornmayer from the Bavarian outfit.

The Gaffer has already addressed all areas of the pitch. His compatriot and the promising young goalkeeper, Loris Karius, might provide respite from the goalkeeping errors that has plagued the club in recent years. Another Bundesliga star, Joel Matip, has landed to shore up the defence. The midfield is bolstered with the arrival of the 6ft 3in tall Serbian prodigy, Marko Grujic, as he is a welcome change to the midfield of last season which had an average height of 5ft 10in.

For the forward department, Klopp followed in the footsteps of his predecessor, Brendan Rodgers, and raided St. Mary’s for some of their treasures. This time, the loot was Sadio Mane and his arrival is a breath of fresh air as he brings some much-needed pace and directness to the Liverpool attack.

There are still some issues to address. At the back, Alberto Moreno can be an asset in some games and a liability in others. This trait of his is very dangerous and there have been calls from the fans to either replace the player or bring an able backup who can step in do the job at ease. German international, Jonas Hector and Leicester's teenage sensation, Ben Chilwell, have been linked for months but nothing has happened so far. The current backups for Moreno are Brad Smith and Jon Flanagan.

Also read: Thank you Martin Skrtel

In the heart of the defence, Joel Matip will act as a direct replacement for Martin Skrtel but Liverpool might still be one man short in that area. As Kolo Toure was released despite a promising display towards the end of last season, Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip and Mamadou Sakho are Liverpool's experienced defenders. There are other options like Tiago Ilori and Joe Gomez but the former's future might be away from Anfield while the latter is yet to return from an injury he picked up in early parts of last season.

In addition, Sakho's career is still in the Limbo as WADA is considering an appeal on UEFA's ruling which dismissed the doping case in his name. He has also picked up an injury which will keep him out until the start of the new season. Chances are that we will either see a promising young defender or an experienced veteran arrive as a backup before the window slams shut.

In midfield, there is a big question on the future of Joe Allen who was one of the outstanding performers from the recently concluded European championship. The last remaining player from the Benitez era, Lucas Leiva, might also pack his bags with Turkey calling. If Lucas does leave, then Jon Flanagan becomes the seniormost member of the first team squad and a new central midfielder might finally arrive after months of speculation regarding Mahmoud Dahoud and Piotr Zielinski.

The Reds are beefed up in attack with Daniel Sturridge, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Divock Origi and Danny Ings. Hence, it is very likely that misfits like Christian Benteke and Mario Balotelli will be sold to the highest bidder.

In short, Klopp just needs to make a couple of defensive signings and a central midfielder to address all areas. However, there is a lot of deadwood to clear.

How will the German serve his dish?

Sturridge or Origi will be a question that many fans will raise throughout the course of the season

Despite the departure of nine players, Liverpool have incredible depth in all areas of the pitch. The team has at least two or three players in all areas of the pitch and the personnel for each position can be seen from the formation image used below.

Klopp has a huge squad at his disposal.

Liverpool currently have the manpower to field three different starting lineups at the same time after excluding some big names like Christian Benteke, Mario Balotelli and Luis Alberto.

Between the sticks, there is a healthy competition between Karius and Mignolet. The former has announced that Klopp asked him to opt out of Olympic participation so that he can attend the entire preseason and be available for selection for the opener against Arsenal at the Emirates.

The one player who has nailed down his spot in the Liverpool squad is Nathaniel Clyne. Unless Jon Flanagan or Joe Gomez does something spectacular, Clyne will continue to be one of the first names on the team sheet. In the heart of the defence, Lovren and Matip are likely to be the starting pair due to Sakho's injury. Although, one should keep an eye out for a seasoned campaigner who could join the ranks.

If anyone has a point to prove during this preseason, it is Alberto Moreno. The Spaniard was guilty of some glaring mistakes last season including some in the Europa League final. It looks like Klopp still has faith in him but he has his work cut out.

Also read: 5 games that defined Jurgen Klopp's first season at Liverpool

In midfield, Emre Can is likely to be a sure starter leaving Henderson, Milner, Grujic and Allen or a new face competing for one or two places. If Henderson won't be a regular starter, then the rumour of the armband going to Dejan Lovren might turn out to be more than a rumour. The manager has the option to play a three man midfield or a two-man pivot with the players at his disposal.

In the more attacking midfield areas, there is plenty of pace, skills, flair, goals, assists and magic. The likes of Coutinho, Firmino, Mane, Lallana and James Milner offers Klopp a lot of variety options. He can now bring on game changers from the bench if things are not working out well on the pitch. This is the most balanced part of the Liverpool squad right now.

In the goal scoring department, Klopp is likely to have some welcome headaches. For a couple of months towards the end of last season, Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi gave each other a run for their money to become the first choice striker. The return of Danny Ings will add more flavour to this competition. In addition, Klopp also has the option of using Firmino up front in the worst case scenario.

This, however, spells doom to two souls - Christian Benteke and Mario Balotelli and it is no secret that Liverpool are actively looking to find suitors for these strikers.

Can Klopp become the master chef?

T for Title?

With just three competitions to play this season, Klopp can rotate his side smartly and keep players fresh in order to get the best out of his unit.

Former Liverpool boss, Brendan Rodgers, has come out and spoken about a title challenge from Reds this season, However, it's too early for such notions. The competition in the Premier League in the coming season is more than ever before as the likes of Leicester, West Ham, Southampton and Everton have added fuel to the fire.

Also read: Rating each signing made by Reds manager Jurgen Klopp

A realistic target should be finishing in a Champions League spot accompanied by another cup run with a positive outcome this time around.

Klopp is training one of the youngest squads in the Premier League. The oldest member of the squad is James Milner (30) followed by Lucas (29) and Simon Mignolet (28). The lack of experience is a matter of concern but the German managed a similar young squad back in Dortmund and won them two league titles.

Brace yourself for the hot and spicy dish Jurgen's cooking at Anfield.

Edited by Staff Editor


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