Liverpool recorded an impressive home victory over champions Leicester City to mark the opening of the new main stand at Anfield. They have had a mixed start to the season, but will be happy with seven points from a tricky first four matches. It has been clear that the players are much more comfortable with Jurgen Klopp’s style of play, which requires high work rate from all eleven on the pitch. The midfield three of Jordon Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum and Adam Lallana have performed well so far this season, which creates a problem for the German head coach, as Emre Can is set to return this month.
Some sections of the Liverpool fan-base consider the German as their most complete midfielder and hope that he is re-integrated into the side. His versatility has hindered him since arriving at Anfield, as he hasn’t been able to make any one position his own. He can play as a holder, box-to-box or playmaker, while he can also be used at centre-half or full back. The 22-year-old’s versatility is an asset, but he now needs to be given a single role to learn. If he is provided with that, he could breakthrough as one of the best midfielders in the league.
He can play any of the three central midfield roles in the Liverpool team, but he would be best suited to the deep role. This will allow Henderson to move to the box-to-box role, linking the defence and attack, while Wijnaldum can move to the more advanced position. Although this will mean that the in-form Adam Lallana will lose his place in the first eleven, this midfield is more balanced and a better fit for the style of play.
The German midfielder is excellent at winning the ball and then distributing it effectively. He can also carry the ball from deep areas, pushing his side further up the pitch and launching counter attacks quickly. Henderson has been playing that role, but he isn’t suited to it and making that change will significantly improve the transition phase.
Last season, he averaged 2.6 tackles and 2.1 interceptions per game in the Premier League, which shows his tenacity when off the ball. He is a perfect fit for a Jurgen Klopp midfield as he presses well and is a quick thinker after winning the ball back. His average foul count of 1.2 per game and total of nine yellow cards suggest that he needs to improve his discipline, but that will come with experience. Despite being at the club for two seasons, it was only after the appointment of Klopp that he was given a settled run in his favoured position. He was still adjusting to the league.
Emre Can has good mobility and can physically dominate opponents with his strength, another reason why he is an upgrade on Henderson. His pass accuracy of 81.3% was good for a team that looks to play on the break and his decision making on the ball is improving. His return will also enable Henderson to move to a linking midfield role, which suits him as it will remove some of his defensive responsibilities. He has exceptional work rate, but isn’t as good as his German counterpart at retrieving the ball.
The 22-year-old could be back for Friday’s match against Chelsea and it will be interesting to see where he fits in. Klopp is likely to be cautious and slowly reintroduce him to the first team, which means that he is probably going to start on the bench. However, as he approaches full fitness, it is difficult not to see him breaking into the first team. He is the most talented midfielder at the club and suits the manager’s style of play.
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