Adam Brown – @ScouseAdamMV
Saturday’s Champions League final further uncovered a missing element to this Liverpool team, an element which has been missing since Gerrard’s departure, a ruthlessness in the midfield – a nastiness.
It was difficult to watch the cunning antics of Sergio Ramos, but it was even more difficult to see that there wasn’t any notable aggression shown towards him after his foul on Salah or more indisputably, the elbow to Loris Karius.
What perhaps angers fans most about the Real Madrid captain, is not necessarily what he does, but the sly manner in which his actions are carried out. Liverpool were too nice – there was no retaliation.
Of course, that doesn’t mean Liverpool should adapt a Wimbledon approach and start flying into challenges at every opportunity, but it’s vital to recognise the balance. Liverpool can play excellent attacking football, but Klopp musn’t allow opponents to take advantage of kindness.
In the Premier League this season, Liverpool recorded the 19thmost yellow cards. As well as one of the fewest numbers of cautions, the Reds also tied for the least number of red cards – just one across the whole Premier League season. While this is generally a positive, it highlights a potential weakness in games where opponents will try to unsettle and upset the flow of play.
Naby Keita’s disciplinary record may alarm some, but the Guinean midfielder’s addition to the side is much needed and, it will bring back some of the edge that left with Steven Gerrard.
Whether it’s going through Fellaini at Old Trafford or heavy tackles against opponents, it’s a side to Liverpool’s game which has been missing. This isn’t to advocate ruthless and foul play, but it shouldn’t be comfortable to play against the Reds. More importantly, opponents shouldn’t be allowed to get away with applying such methods against Liverpool.
What is most promising about Naby Keita, is that aside from his aggression, the 23 year old midfielder is technically brilliant. With 9 goals and 7 assists for Leipzig this season, from predominantly less advanced midfield areas, Keita can make an instant impact at Liverpool.
In many ways, the Guinean is the ideal box to box midfielder. With quality in both attacking and defensive elements of his game, as well as a clear aggression, almost chip on the shoulder type of mentality, Klopp’s acute acquisition last season looks set to be one of the most vital final pieces of the Liverpool jigsaw.
Under Jurgen Klopp’s guidance, the Reds new number 8 could be the ideal successor to Gerrard, not least because of the potential to flourish in a team of growing, world class players. Whilst opponents could limit Keita in a Leipzig side with only Timo Werner as their other significant threat, teams in the Premier League can only afford to limit the Guinean at the cost of providing more space to Mane, Salah and Firmino.
The Reds will be back next season, even stronger after summer acquisitions and most importantly, back with an edge in midfield. Liverpool’s appearance in cup finals is about to get much more frequent.
Adam Brown – @ScouseAdamMV
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