Red Letter: Liverpool’s best XI – No Lucas or Lallana

Date published: Friday 19th February 2016 10:21

In his weekly Liverpool blog, Dave Tindall lists what he believes to be Jurgen Klopp’s strongest XI when everyone is fit.

With a Wembley final on the horizon, it’s surely time that Klopp now knows his strongest starting XI.

To be fair, it’s one thing knowing it and another thing being able to pick it given how many injuries Liverpool have suffered this season.

But in this latest week of extremes – we’re now the Premier League’s top scorers in 2016 (16 goals) having started the year with the least amount of goals (22) in our history from the opening 20 games – it seems that Klopp has settled on his best team.

The point was underlined when, for the first time in his reign, the German picked the same XI in successive games – the 6-0 drubbing of Aston Villa followed by the 0-0 draw in Augsburg.

It’s a game we all like to play so I sat down after the hugely enjoyable Villa romp and picked my own. As you can see, I’m very much on the same page as Klopp. Are you?

Simon Mignolet

I’m probably more understanding and hopeful about the Belgian than most, despite him testing my patience repeatedly this season. The downsides are obvious and, as well as the flapping at corners, his shot-stopping is also now under scrutiny. He’s without doubt the club’s No.1 goalkeeper – the hapless Adam Bogdan has ensured that – and part of me still thinks that Mignolet has the component parts to be a strong goalkeeper. However, it’s a position that could certainly be upgraded in the summer.

Nathaniel Clyne

Just fine. Nothing to see here. Great energy, reliable, consistent and takes his defensive duties seriously. His end product in the final third is still frustrating, but if that improved he’d be a hell of a player. Clyne has two goals this season from rebounds in the penalty area, but we need to see more of it. He’s good on the ball and only one Liverpool player has made more passes (1176) in the Premier League this season so he can link the play well.

Alberto Moreno

A total enigma. He’s created more chances (46) than any other Liverpool player (compare it to just 15 from Clyne on the other wing) and has also put in nearly twice as many crosses (119) as Clyne (67). But it’s all come at a cost. Moreno goes walkabout too often and, in the final analysis, is it really worth it given the amount of goals he’s responsible for giving away at the other end? With no league goals and just a single assist, an obvious answer is no. Brad Smith is emerging as a reliable understudy while fit-again Jon Flanagan may be the best solution of all. The local lad looks far more dependable and would provide the added bonus of bringing a solid Scouse heartbeat to the team. For now, Moreno gets the nod, but he’s on thin ice.

Mamadou Sakho

Yes, he can have his moments, but it’s very much a matter of perception with the Frenchman. Fans and commentators should see through the so-called crime of being a bit gangly and looking awkward and look at the numbers. Time and time again, Sakho emerges at the end of 90 minutes as the team’s most accurate passer, while he’s second this season in total clearances with 105. With an extended injury-free run, I’d pencil him in as our first-choice centre-back.

Dejan Lovren

I expect to be pencilling Joel Matip into my starting XI when he arrives in the summer. I’m also tempted to put in Kolo Toure given recent performances. It’s not unusual for centre-backs to still be effective in their mid-30s and the Ivorian is a leader on the pitch – and you can never have enough of those. Speaking in his native tongue (French) with Sakho probably helps them gel too. However, a fully fit and functioning Lovren clearly has a greater upside and he gets the vote. Lovren is built like a commanding centre-half, reads the game well but just needs to stop thinking he needs to be Alan Hansen. Row Z will do sometimes. Keep it simple.

Emre Can

There are times when Can looks as though he could develop into something special. There are also times when he looks an average player in an average team. I like to think of him as a future thoroughbred running green so will forgive the midfielder the follies of youth. Just one goal from 19 shots shows he has work to do as an attacking force, but he’s created as many chances (28) as Adam Lallana and leads the total passes count by a mile. Can has made 1474 in the Premier League this season, which is 298 more than any other Liverpool player. He adds power and a physical presence too as our midfield can often look lightweight.

Jordan Henderson

The skipper has been held back by injury this season and it’s still hard to shake off the idea that he’s more Spock (ultra-reliable assistant) than Captain Kirk. The biggest problem though is his heel injury. Take out the relentless energy from Henderson’s game and you’ve stripped him of much of his powers. A good lad and all that, but he needs to be playing at 100% otherwise we have a problem.

James Milner

My chief worry for the midfield is that it lacks a big star/big presence. Milner is a great foil for more luxurious players around him but isn’t ever going to be a dominant force. You could say the same of Henderson. That said, Milner is worth his weight in… let’s say bronze rather than gold as it sounds more fitting. Milner’s tally of six makes him our joint best assists maker in the league alongside Firmino and he’s chipped in with four goals too. There probably isn’t a better penalty taker in the club either. As long as we can field some elaborate talents around him, I’d find a place for Milner. I think!

Roberto Firmino

I’ve liked the Brazilian from the start even though it took a while before he made an impact. Not that it should have come as a surprise as the silkier foreign players often take a while to adapt. His numbers on the stat counter are now turning over at rapid speed and Firmino has become our joint top scorer in the league (6) and also joint top in assists (6). Five of those goals have come in the last six games. By comparison, Adam Lallana has just two goals and four assists from virtually the same number of appearances.

Philippe Coutinho

If he’s fit, the little maestro is one of the first names on team-sheet. He can suffer lean patches and from poor decision-making (i.e. cutting inside and trying to score a worldy far too often), but he can come up with the big goals as highlighted by his double at Chelsea and early strike at Man City. Overall, his tally of five goals and five assists is less than Firmino, but imagine all that FIFA-style ‘chemistry’ he adds when playing with those on the same wavelength – i.e. his mate Firmino and Daniel Sturridge. Talking of which….

Daniel Sturridge

He adds so much to this Liverpool team even though, as one fan said on social media, he’s made of crisps. His lethal finishing and clever movement open up so many more avenues of danger and it’s absolutely no coincidence that he’s been heavily involved in our two big away-day goal-fests – the 6-1 at Southampton (he scored the first two) and the 6-0 at Aston Villa (Sturridge got the opener). We’ve hardly seen him this season, but he’s still managed three in his six league games. Liverpool’s best striker by a country mile.

The Bench – 7 allowed in Prem/Europa League

Danny Ward – I’ve watched him in the reserves. He has talent and speaks well too, giving off that aura of confidence which is important in a goalkeeper. Has moved ahead of Bogdan.

Kolo Toure – There’s even a hashtag #KeepKolo doing the rounds now and you can see why. Dependable back-up and great in the dressing room.

Lucas Leiva – Still our best defensive midfielder and I’d probably wheel him out for the big games – perhaps even against Man City at Wembley. Adds balance to the side and can even fill in at centre-back where possibly his future may lie.

Christian Benteke – Very much the Plan B which isn’t acceptable when you fork out £32.5m for a supposed star striker. Makes the bench look impressive I guess, but I’d still sell him in the summer.

Adam Lallana – Ultra-willing and obviously talented, but still his end product is lacking. I sometimes think he would have been a great 80s Liverpool player but lacks the speed and athleticism needed to stand out in the modern game.

Divock Origi – An ideal back-up striker to have in the squad. Young, hungry, quick and willing to learn. Looks to be developing nicely.

Jordan Ibe – Ibe appears to be running down too many blind alleys or simply just running the ball out of play. Clearly, there’s plenty of talent there, but he remains a work in progress. Klopp will enjoy shaping him though so let’s keep the faith.

Oh, I wanted to put Jon Flanagan in. And what about Joe Gomez when he’s fit? This isn’t easy is it!

** Do you agree with Dave? Let us know your first-choice LFC side.

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Home Forums Red Letter: Liverpool’s best XI – No Lucas or Lallana

This topic contains 14 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  redrob 10 months, 3 weeks ago.

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    Mark Holmes

    In his weekly Liverpool blog, Dave Tindall lists what he believes to be Jurgen Klopp’s strongest XI when everyone is fit.

    [See the full post at: Red Letter: Liverpool’s best XI – No Lucas or Lallana]


    Sean the sailor

    At the moment that is our best team. Moreno and Can have everything in their locker to be really good players. Moreno just cant defend. He is to static when people make runs in behind him. What impresses me about him though is the speed at which he can recover sometimes but he severly lacks football intelligence. He is caught out of position at to many times.

    Can fits into Klopps stle of play. He has regressed over the last few games but he has done ok this season. He needs to control games better nad not give the ball away as much.He tackles well but him and henderson together is very flat. Hnderson is not fit. He is struggling at the moment. Weres his forward runs gone? Hes dropping back thin king he is alonso. He is our captain and really needs to step up more.

    I dont like Couhtino out wide and it limits him. Firminio is doing ok but maybe they could interchnage a bot more. Lalanna just does not do enough. He doesnt create or score enough goals.Lucas has done nothing wrong this season. Done a great job when filling in at centre back and is good to have in reserve. Ibe needs to pick up his game. He is just not doing enough. Constantly running the ball out of play. he is still only young though

    we need 4 new players now we have brought in Matip in. A goal keeper, a proper commanding central midfield player, another wide player and maybe a centre forward. I think we have some decent options up top but sturridge cant staty fit. I thought benteke would have fitted in but he hasnt. Origi and ings are decent chocies as backups. So we need a striker as benteke wil go in the summer



    Absolute nonsense Dave do you actually get paid for this ?
    The last two games show how ineffectual Can Hendo and Milner are together.
    You can’t leave Lucas out – whether at DM or even CB.
    His ball winning and reading of game are top class.
    Jordan “StevieG – NOT ” Henderson can’t pass when it counts, shows no leadership and is a poor ball winner.
    Can plods around and can’t handle being pressed.
    Lucas was out with injury and Joe Allen has done more than Hendo and Can in reent games.



    Redrob Agree. Lucas is a vital part of our midfield. He does a great job in there,and doesn’t get the credit he deserves most of the time. The likes of Hendo,Can and Milner don’t cut the mustard. Very little creativity with those 3. I’ve never been a huge fan of Allen,but he’s started to win me over. I like what I saw from him before he was dropped



    The best XI should be picked on form – apart maybe for Gk where Ward is one for the future.

    Clyne Lovren? Sakho? Smith/Flanno ?
    Milner Firmino Can Coutinho

    It’s a really tough call – Lovren Sakho are maybe’s.
    Smith/Flanno contribute just as much as Moreno going forward and perhaps more at the back
    Milner puts in good crosses and Ibe is just off his form at present.
    You could put Ilori in at the back for his pace in place of Sakho who looked slow last night.
    Lallana, Allen and Skrtel not fit. Neither is Hendo and doesn’t merit a place on his current form.
    Teixeira , Stewart and Brannagan deserve a shot at it.
    Benteke doesn’t deserve a starting place as he’s not scored but wouldn’t bet against him next season.

    How might we have done had Ings and Gomez not had bad injuries?

    Next season could be a very different lineup!


    Sean the sailor

    Lucas is to slow and he’s not creative. Who else have we really got apart from Henderson and can to play in there? We badly need a dominant central midfielder



    Too slow?
    He’s not a winger or CF !
    Can looks a LOT slower
    Good players use the ball and do do well – very obviously missing in Augsberg!
    Win it, give it, keep possession
    , find space, etc etc
    Lucas hits better balls than Hendo with eyes shut!!


    Sean the sailor

    Can has a burst of pace in him. I’d say a lot of Liverpool fans think Lucas is slow to cover the ground. He’s a holding player. I think Lucas is decent. Ah come in red rob, Henderson shooting has been off but when has Lucas even hit a shot that has troubled a goal keeper recently?we need a commanding imposing midfielder



    Sean – agree totally on Lucas shooting or threatening the goal – it won’t happen.
    He will however play a more vital role in stopping opposition play and defensive roles whwre he’s better than anyone we have at present – in DM or even I hope in a new future role at the back.
    My dig at Hendo is that he wastes chances he should not and is too ambitious.
    I’ve no problem with him or Can in an attacking role but they just don’t have the nous to do good job in picking ball up from defence – Hendo nearly always goes sideways or back (or loses it) after picking the ball up so in that case why give it to him in 1st place?
    He might run fairly quickly but uses ball too slowly so we are always closed down or he doesn’t see the early ball.
    Milner has worked well with Firmino recently as does Coutinho. Lucas also understands his fellow Brazilians and plays well with them!



    I agree 100% with his selection and concerns, i too share the same opinion of him on Moreno and noticed a much improved defensive display from the back 4 with brad smith in there as he adds much needed height for the set plays. the west ham game comes to mind where smith made a significant amount of clearing headers from corners taken from our left side, something i feel Moreno lacks.

    with regards to the goalkeeping situation i would be tempted to give Ward some game time in the league as he was doing extremely well for aberdeen before his recall. for me we aren’t going to get top 4 and providing we win the league cup well be in europe again so i cant see much harm in giving him game time what the worst that could happen that we’ve not seen from Mignolet and Bogdan.

    in terms of his write ups on each individual player i agree whole heartedly on Lallana and weather he is good enough to take Liverpool Further for me he just isn’t good enough.

    with regards to Henderson if his ankle injury is anything similar to Ashtons (which is what ive heard) then we will need to replace him which i think why Gurcic was signed.

    Can 100% spot on however i would like to add his ridiculous game time he’s endured under Klopps tenure which i think no 20 year old has gone through.

    Milner again spot on..

    i also think we’ve not mentioned the Potential in Chirevella and Brannigan as they may have a say in the later stages that could influence the transfer Plans of Klopp.

    For me taking the development of chirevella and Brannigan if we get Ter Steggen, Another CM and a Marquee in the summer then we will see some huge improvements especially in regaining those CL spots.


    Emre C Coutinho

    Nay it’s not nonsense. Milner has been decent and if you want to be more attacking then Can Hendo and Milner is our best bet at the moment. Lucas can come in and replace Milner when we are up against stronger opposition and want to be more robust in defense.

    If i may suggest i think Coutinho could actually do a very decent job in center-midfield which would allow us to play another attacking midfielder higher up the field with Firm and Studd. Maybe Ibe or Lala. This would really help our attack. And Cout can pick a pass from deeper and he puts in his fair share of defending too as we all know.

    Hendo Can Cout

    Firm Studd Ibe



    Lucas has been a good player for us and probably is our best defensive midfielder however for me his time has come unless willing to be a squad player. He does some good work but recently I’ve seen him being bullied off the ball and his movement has been a little more static with people going past him (not sure if this is injury, age, klopps demands for pressing or something else).

    I think Allen has done well but would look to move him on also. Henderson, Can, Grujic and Milner can then battle it out with hopefully another top midfielder coming in.

    Again though, I would be tempted to integrate Couthinho further back in mid as we look too static in some games and need more in there than 3 conventional mids. That would also allow us to play another attacking player in the team especially against teams who part the bus.



    The centre midfielders need to protect the defence as well as to support the attack, Coutinho might not be suitable there as he could be easily pushed off the ball. Besides if we move Coutinho down to midfield and we play 4 across the middle instead of 3, we won’t be able to field another attacking player unless we remove another.



    Gabara, depends what way you look at. Do we really need 3 such centre mids in midfield …. Other top teams don’t have such a setup. Plus we would retain even more possession and create more with Couthino dropped in a little deeper.

    I am not suggesting playing another cm as well. So we could play Origi still.

    The mids we have are not creative enough to warrant a regular place imho.

    As already mentioned when we play other ‘top’ teams we could easily bring one of the more traditional cm back in.



    So would anyone here like to change their mind after yesterday’s match ????

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