Liverpool cannot spend their way out of this mess

When the 2022-23 Premier League season started, it started FiveThirtyEight Club Football Prediction Model It gave Liverpool the second best odds of winning the title. More than five months and 20 weeks into the game, the Reds are ninth in the table, behind players like Brentford, newly promoted Fulham and Brighton & Hove Albion, and the form gives them less than a 1% chance of achieving domestic glory.

At the same time last season, Liverpool sat in third place, nine points behind eventual champions Manchester City, but with a game in hand. Preferred model Seti then – He was eventually acquitted – But Liverpool played almost flawless football from that point on, buoyed by the signing of former Porto striker and Colombia star Luis Diaz during the winter transfer window. Diaz’s signature was, by and large, One of the great main hits In Premier League signing history: goals expected without penalties plus assists expected every 90 minutes (npxG + xAG / 90) He finished ninth in a tie (with Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez) among players with at least 11 starts.

Of course, the Reds ultimately failed agonizingly in their quest for a record-equalling 20th Premier League title – Thanks to the collapse of Aston Villa – but their impressive winter transfer business gave them a huge opportunity.

The same cannot be said this season, even if they have recently courted Dutch striker Cody Gakbo – one of the most exciting young attacking talents in Europe, and one of the superstars of the 2022 World Cup – Away from Eindhoven Eindhoven. As great a Gakpo as he is now (and as world-class as he may eventually become), it’s too little, and it’s too late. Besides, Liverpool’s problems don’t lie in their attacking line – they lie (mostly) in their midfield (and Inability to prevent opponents from scoring first).

To be clear, Liverpool’s midfield is a mess. It’s a miserable mishmash of existence Very Old And very wounded. Club captain Jordan Henderson – whose existence at Liverpool was both (unfairly) fraught and decorated at the same time – may never have been meant to play as many minutes as he did in his 32-year-old season. The same goes for maestro Thiago Alcantara and destroyer Fabinho, both on the wrong side of the 29th.

A year ago, these three would have made one of the best midfielders in world football – a combination that (one way or another) brought Liverpool to the unprecedented quadruple brink. As such, they have each played over 2,300 minutes in all competitions, which is a lot of minutes for any player, let alone players in (or approaching) their 30s. It’s impossible to know what manager Jurgen Klopp was thinking at the start of the season, but it’s a little unreasonable to think he planned to play the statesmen’s biggest role in midfield as much as he’s been forced into this season. However, long-term injuries to Curtis Jones, Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and loan shark Arthur have given Klopp precious few options to win back.

Signing a midfielder during the transfer window (which ends on January 31) would make sense – perhaps more sensible than signing a striker, even with Diaz and fellow striker Diogo Jota sidelined by long-term injuries – but up to this point, Liverpool haven’t dipped their toes. Introduce it to the market to improve its fortunes. And it may be so Liverpool can’t be fixed (at least not this season). When a team relies on strong pressing – that is, when a team relies on defending from the front (Diaz and Jota are great strikers to press forward, but they have been out for months) – and you break the pressure, it makes the midfield work, the back line work, much more difficult.

So, is Liverpool’s season over? not exactly. The league title is almost certainly out of reach, and the same can be said for a fourth-place finish, which would be disastrous financially – Champions League qualification is worth tens of millions of dollars that clubs can use to reinvest in squad and facilities, making them even more attractive for deals. potential future. But the Reds are still alive in the FA Cup and Champions League. Klopp’s teams have always been beasts of knockout tournaments – Liverpool have reached the final in three of the past five Champions League seasons, winning one, winning the FA Cup last season – so silverware is still a possibility. But without signing a midfielder (or two or three), that possibility is diminishing by the day.

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