6 Sept 2015

Lawro insists: 'World-class' £20m Everton star is better than 'outstanding' Liverpool signing at 'going forward'

It's only four games into the new season, but Liverpool's fatal lack of width is already a glaring issue for the club, and after failing to address the issue in the summer transfer window, Brendan Rodgers' (unsatisfactory) answer to the problem seems to be playing Alberto Moreno as a makeshift winger. In the modern game, full-backs are often used to provide width, but so far, Clyne and Gomez have offered little in that department, and LFC legend Mark Lawrenson has warned that Clyne in particular is not an attacking solution for the club.

In his Saturday column for the Liverpool Echo, Lawro explained:

"We are making it harder for ourselves by not having enough width in our team. Nathaniel Clyne has been steady but hardly in the mould of Seamus Coleman going forward, who makes something happen all the time".

Alas, Lawro appears to be right with this contention. When it comes to attacking contribution, there's a stark difference between £20m-rated Coleman and Clyne (who, according to Rodgers, is 'outstanding'):


* 37 goals/assists in 189 apps for Everton (Goal/assist every 5.1 games)

* Last season: 34 chances created in 35 league games.


* 8 goals/assists in 137 apps for Southampton (Goal/assist every 17.1 games)

* Last season: 22 chances created in 35 league games.

In comparison to allegedly 'world-class' Coleman, Clyne's attacking impact is poor. His focus is clearly on defending, and given Liverpool's defensive woes, that's fine, but it's clearly a mistake to rely on Clyne to provide a consistent attacking threat.

Rodgers must've surely seen Clyne's attacking figures prior to the deal, which makes his failure to sign a dedicated wide player even more confusing.

When a team has defenders incapable of providing an attacking threat, then it's even more imperative to have midfielders who can pick up the slack, and the vastly inexperienced Jordon Ibe aside, Liverpool don't have a single dedicated wide player in the first-team squad.

This is a major problem, and it will inevitably to one (or all of the following)

* Rodgers will repeatedly play Ibe to give the team width, which will lead to increased pressure, expectation, and, ultimately, burnout for the 18-year old. The pressure shouldn't be on Ibe to be Liverpool's main attacking outlet on the wing, but given Rodgers' failure to address the issue, it's possible that will happen.

* Rodgers will revert back to a 352 in a bid to introduce width, with Moreno and Clyne as wing-backs, and (possibly) Ibe, and Origi roped in at some point to be makeshift wing-backs.

* Rodgers will play Coutinho, Firmino, or even one of Sturridge or Benteke out wide, which will neuter their effectiveness.

* As Lawro puts it: "Teams have sussed us out already. Pack the central areas, stick the foot in and you’re likely to give Liverpool a hard time". This is already the pattern this season. Opposing teams know Liverpool have no width, and with players like Lallana, Firmino, Coutinho et al constantly coming inside, LFC's narrow approach is easy to deal with.

In January, Rodgers needs to sign one or two *fast* attacking players capable of providing width, but until then, my solution is this:

---------------- Mignolet
Clyne ----- Skrtel - Lovren ----- Gomez
--------------- Lucas
------ Hendo --------- Moreno
------------- Coutinho
------- Firmino
------------- Benteke

It's not ideal, but at least there will be one player in the team (Moreno) capable of adding genuine width. Unfortunately, there are so many problems to consider, especially when everyone is fit:

* Rodgers will play Milner in every single game, so the team will have to accommodate him, even at the expense of more suitable players.

* What happens when Sturridge is fit again? Who is going to make way?

* There's no possible way to fit Lallana, Can, Milner, Hendo, Coutinho, Sturridge, Firmino, and Benteke in the same team.

* If Benteke and Sturridge play together, one of either Firmino or Coutinho will almost certainly stay on the bench (Unless Rodgers plays one of them in central midfield)

The squad is so ridiculously unbalanced it makes my head hurt to think about it.

Author: Jaimie K


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