Midfield remains Liverpool’s great concern


Gakpo will be keen to get among the goals. — Reuters

THERE is so much pessimism among Liverpool fans right now.

Off-the-field matters, especially the proposed takeover or incoming offers for the club, have gone quiet, leaving the squad with little to no investment or support during the just concluded January transfer window.

As an injury-laden Liverpool side travels to face Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Molineux Stadium, things could get ugly.

Wolves will certainly smell blood and will be baying for it, having narrowly lost 1-0 to the Merseyside club in the FA Cup third round replay last month.

Injuries to key players and the shambolic failure to bring in proper reinforcements have certainly made it harder for the Reds to get a result against any team, let alone climb up the league table.

While Cody Gakpo was brought in due to the injuries to Luis Diaz, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota, he is not a midfielder where fresh legs are truly needed.

Both Fabinho and Jordan Henderson are out of sorts, both physically and mentally, and there is only so much Thiago Alcantara, Harvey Elliot, Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Curtis Jones and Stefan Bajcetic can do.

In facing Wolves, Jurgen Klopp will most certainly retain Thiago, Bajcetic and Keita in the middle of the park.

The trio brings stability to the team, as shown in the first half of the FA Cup fourth round match against Brighton and Hove Albion last week, before things went downhill in the second half and ended in a 2-1 defeat.

Klopp will be hopeful that all three can last the entire 90 minutes, if not at least 70, to gain control of the game.

Thiago and Keita have been brilliant when called upon, but there is still a concern that it is just a matter of time before one or both get injured yet again – if they are to continue playing without any rest.

Bajcetic is just 18, and having him shoulder the burden and responsibility of running the midfield, which should be the job of senior players, could either burn him out physically or prove a masterstroke by Klopp.

Klopp will want to manage his game time carefully, but the lack of options may leave him with little or no choice.

Still if Barcelona’s rising star Gavi, also 18, can start regularly, there is hope that Bajcetic can do the same.

Both Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jones are talented, but are injury-prone, and Klopp can no longer rely on them.

In defence, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are expected to start, following Ibrahima Konate’s hamstring injury.

Up front, Darwin Nunez may be recalled to the starting line-up, alongside Elliot and Mohamed Salah – at the expense of Gakpo, who will be keen to get among the goals if given the opportuinty.

As for Wolves, they have certainly shown more ambition than Liverpool by snapping up several exciting players, including Brazilian young talent Joao Gomes from Flamengo.

Unlike Liverpool, they do not have any injury concerns and all their departments are well-stocked with options.

Having also lost dismally to Manchester City two weeks ago, Julen Lopetegui will want his team, which is hovering above the relegation zone, to make a good game of it and help keep their Premier League status alive.

Both teams, however, are struggling to find the back of the net and a goal fest is not expected.

The most likely outcome is a one-goal victory or a dull draw.

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