After a frustrating 1-1 draw with Aston Villa in the Premier League, Liverpool fans will no doubt be left wondering where things went wrong. One area of concern that has been highlighted in the aftermath of the game is the midfield, which appeared to struggle in the latter stages of the match.
The match saw Jurgen Klopp opt for a new-look midfield, with Thiago Alcantara dropping deep to play alongside Fabinho and James Milner. The trio initially showed promise, with Thiago’s range of passing and Fabinho’s defensive solidity helping to control the game.
However, as the match wore on, it became clear that Liverpool‘s midfield was struggling. Fabinho was increasingly forced to drop deep to deal with Villa’s counter-attacks, leaving Thiago and Milner with less space to operate in. The lack of mobility in the midfield also made it difficult for Liverpool to press and win the ball back high up the pitch.
The most worrying aspect of Liverpool‘s midfield performance, however, was their inability to create chances. Despite having plenty of possession, the Reds struggled to break down Villa’s deep block and create clear-cut opportunities. Thiago, in particular, was guilty of giving the ball away on several occasions, while Milner and Fabinho offered little going forward.
This lack of creativity is not a new problem for Liverpool. The departure of Georginio Wijnaldum in the summer has left a hole in the midfield, and Klopp has yet to find a solution. Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Curtis Jones have all been given opportunities this season, but none have impressed consistently.
There have also been calls for Liverpool to sign a new midfielder in the summer. Names such as Youri Tielemans, Renato Sanches and Nicolo Barella have all been mentioned in the media, and it is clear that Klopp needs to strengthen in this area if his side is to challenge for major honours next season.
Of course, it is important not to overreact to one result. Liverpool are still in the top four and have a Champions League quarter-final to look forward to. However, the performance against Villa was a reminder that there are still areas of the team that need improvement.
The midfield, in particular, will be an area of focus for Klopp in the coming weeks and months. Whether he chooses to stick with the existing players or bring in new faces remains to be seen, but it is clear that Liverpool need to find a solution to their midfield problems if they are to continue to challenge for honours.