Liverpool’s late collapse at Bournemouth provided clear indication of the transfer business Jurgen Klopp needs to target in January.
It is often said more is learned from defeat than victory and this proved true as Liverpool’s 15-game unbeaten run ended in brutal fashion on the south coast.
Klopp will have absorbed plenty from a display seemingly confined to past Reds teams – including how additions will be crucial to maintaining the title charge into the New Year.
Though Klopp has expressed January business will be avoided where possible, the need for reinforcements was clear as his depleted side twice surrendered the lead in an ill-timed defeat.
With the impact signings could make to Liverpool’s season, January provides an opportunity Klopp must take.
Squad Depth & Quality Exposed
A key issue uncovered as Liverpool capitulated was the lack of quality and depth at Klopp’s disposal.
Though injuries to Joel Matip, Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge have unluckily come at once, this only exposed how ill-equipped Liverpool are to deal with multiple key absences.
Without Matip, a composed and leading figure to organise was sorely missed as Bournemouth upped the pressure sensing the Reds’ fragility.
It’s no coincidence both defeats this season have come when Klopp’s men have been without the colossal Cameroonian.
Neither the deputising Lucas – preferred to specialist back-up Ragnar Klavan – or Dejan Lovren provided this assuredness required; both shrinking into their shells as panic set in.
That Liverpool crumbled without Matip again illustrated not only his importance, but the unsuitability of back-ups and the liability Lovren can be without his influential partner.
Though keeping goals out rather than scoring them proved the problem, absences of key attackers, Coutinho and Sturridge, were equally felt.
A bench featuring teenagers Ovie Ejaria and Ben Woodburn as two of the three impact options alongside recently-returned Adam Lallana meant Klopp had precious little to utilise to alter momentum.
No surprise, therefore, that Lallana was the only introduction, replacing a limping Sadio Mane which presents further concern and reason for acquisitions.
Injuries to key players have been poorly timed and such absences would unquestionably shake any team.
But the performance without them showed Liverpool lack necessary quality and quality to compensate, making January signings vital.
Areas to Address
Klopp has already stated he may bolster his wide options next month, but more activity is required with a defensive addition and an ideal partner for Matip needed.
Lovren’s struggles without the stabilising Cameroonian at Burnley and Bournemouth provide little comfort for future instances without the towering centre-back, which isn’t good enough for a starting Reds defender.
Where Klopp finds the ideal signing in a window notoriously difficult to find value and quality remains to be seen, but one option is another St Mary’s raid for Virgil Van Dijk.
The Dutchman seems a near-perfect fit both physically and tactically, and recent tentative reports suggest he has a release clause which could tempt Klopp into exploring a move.
With injuries and absences stacking up and the impact becoming visible, Klopp seems increasingly likely strengthen his forward line, recently assessing, “the more injuries we have, the more you have to think about it.”
But a new attacker is now essential with Liverpool to be without Coutinho and Mane at the turn of the year, the need to rotate to avoid further injury and the seeming lack of trust in youngsters for the Premier League stage.
Recruiting a pacey winger would be ideal, with Borussia Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic seemingly the prime target.
Whether the American is attainable is doubtful, with BVB sporting director, Michael Zorc, stating “It’s not worth the effort for Liverpool.”
Klopp could therefore rekindle interest in versatile attacker, Quincy Promes, who, reports suggest, is poised to leave Spartak Moscow in January.
Another unimpressive display from Loris Karius, Klopp’s chosen man ahead of failed experiment, Simon Mignolet, has also seen calls for a new goalkeeper.
But while the shot-stopping department is a legitimate concern, Karius is working towards providing a long-term solution making patience crucial as he adapts.
A new ‘keeper isn’t a priority but a centre-back and attacker is.
Finding adequate options could prove crucial to the success of the campaign.
January Window of Opportunity
Sitting third in the table, four points off top spot, optimism should not be short supply as bad as the capitulation was.
Such a defeat could prove the cliched blessing in disguise, providing clear evidence that work is required on and off the pitch as January approaches.
Indeed, the manner of defeat provided a warning that current promise could count for nothing if the squad isn’t adequately supplemented next month. There’ll also be more of a reaction to a defeat, than if it had ended in a 3-3 draw.
Failure to utilise the January window has proved costly to title dreams before – most obviously in 2008/09 when a match-winning forward to turn costly draws into crucial wins never arrived.
Entrenched in the title race again, Liverpool have a huge opening in front of them this season – and Klopp should heed warning of previous missed January opportunity to avoid a heart-breaking repeat.
A window as productive as one of Liverpool’s best ever which brought Coutinho and Sturridge to Anfield four years ago would be most welcome. This shows value can be found, and similar signings who can impact on arrival and fit with the long-term profile would be ideal.
Liverpool’s title dreams potentially hinge on the utilisation of January’s window, with additions key to addressing squad shortcomings and keeping the title charge alive.