14 Oct 2015

He's Out: After training fail, £32m Liverpool 'monster' to miss Spurs. Boost for Sturridge/Ings?

On Monday, Liverpool-duo Philippe Coutinho, and Dejan Lovren returned to full training after recent injury issues, which means that both may be in contention for Saturday's trip to Spurs. The Reds still have injury worries, though, and it looks increasingly like summer signing Christian Benteke will miss Jurgen Klopp’s first game as Liverpool's new manager.

According to the Liverpool Echo today:

* £32m Benteke - hailed by Dietmar Hamann as a monster striker - will almost certainly miss the Spurs game as he is 'yet to resume training' after sustaining a hamstring injury against Norwich.

* On the plus side, Robert Firmino is 'making progress' following his back injury, and is 'close' to a return to full training.

I'm a fan of Benteke, I repeatedly highlighted his injury history over the summer, and it's concerning that he got injured again just seven games into the new season.

This is now Benteke's 5th injury in two years, during which time he's spent 240 days on the sidelines, and missed 25 games.

Luckily, Daniel Sturridge is fit right now, but if there's anything inevitable about Liverpool, it's that Sturridge will get injured at some point in the near future. If Sturridge stays fit, though, it could spell problems for Benteke.

* Based on his time at Dortmund, Klopp's favoured formation is 4231, which means that there's only room for one striker in the starting line-up.

* It's possible to play a second striker just behind the main striker (ostensibly as a number-10), but neither Benteke, nor Sturridge have experience of playing that role.

* Additionally, using Benteke or Sturridge in a deeper role (as part of the attacking three) will mean that one of either Coutinho, Firmino, or Lallana, will regularly miss out.

* Of the two, Sturridge is more suited to the role. Example formation:

---------------- Mignolet
Clyne ------ Skrtel - Sakho ---- Moreno
------------ Milner - Hendo
--- Coutinho -- Sturridge ---- Firmino
---------------- Benteke

This lineup is a possibility, but Sturridge is most effective as a central striker, and there's no sense in playing Liverpool's most prolific goalscorer out of position.

Playing Benteke as a number-10 is (or should be) a non-starter, and when both are fit, Sturridge should undoubtedly be Liverpool's number-one striker.

If Klopp agrees - and continues to play 4231 - then Benteke may find himself stuck on the bench for most of the season. Unless, of course, Liverpool's manager-elect decides change his approach, and utilises a system that fits the squad.

Unfortunately for Benteke, he got injured at the wrong time, and whilst he's out, Sturridge and Ings will have time to cement their places in Klopp's team, which may make it hard for the Belgian to break back into the side.

Author: Jaimie K


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