3 things we learned about Liverpool before the international break

Dan Vassie
10 months ago

Liverpool go into the first international break of the season unbeaten after four matches and third in the league, but what have we learned from the first chunk of the 2023/24 season?

All things considered, Reds fans will be going into the club football hiatus feeling positive and optimistic. Jurgen Klopp and his side have picked up three wins and one draw, scored nine goals, while ticking off tough away trips to Newcastle and Chelsea in the process.

After the disaster that was the 2022/23 season, the minimum goal is for the club to get back into the Champions League places, but after such a positive start, dare I say that a title charge could be on...?

READ MORE: Are Liverpool title contenders once again?

Here are some things we've learned from Liverpool's opening four Premier League fixtures.


NEW SIGNINGS HIT THE GROUND RUNNING

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 19, 2023: Liverpool's Dominik Szoboszlai during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and AFC Bournemouth at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Perhaps the most exciting part of Liverpool's season so far has been just how well their new singings have adapted to Klopp's system.

For years now, Reds fans have been crying out for creativity and goals from midfield – you could argue that it is the only thing Liverpool have missed throughout their most successful period in the Premier League era.

However, with the acquisitions of Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai, Liverpool now have just that in abundance.

The pair look like they've been playing in red their entire careers. They've added pace, energy, tenacity and at the ages of 24 and 22 respectively, Klopp could have the duo to depend on for years and years to come.

Szoboszlai already recorded his first goal for the club against Aston Villa (and what an unbelievable strike it was). Meanwhile, Mac Allister has been thriving – picking out pass after pass, despite being deployed in a deeper defensive midfield role primarily so far.

We've seen a lot less from Wataro Endo, but the Japanese captain played well as the six against Newcastle. However, fans will have to wait until at least Saturday, 16 September to see Ryan Gravenberch in action.

Liverpool's fourth and final signing wasn't registered in time to feature against Aston Villa, but the Dutchman has incredibly high potential and fans will be keeping all fingers crossed that they'll see him in action against Wolves after the international break.

READ MORE: Why Ryan Gravenberch signing makes more sense than traditional number six

At the beginning of the transfer window, the Liverpool hierarchy promised a midfield rebuild and with the club getting rid of seven players from the middle of the park and signing its new midfield quartet for around £145m, it's safe to say the midfield is certainly rebuilt.

DARWIN COULD LIGHT THE LEAGUE ON FIRE

Darwin Nuñez

By far the best moment of the season thus far (or should I say, two moments) was Darwin Nuñez's electric brace to win Liverpool's away clash with Newcastle 2-1, despite being a goal down and playing with 10 men for over an hour.

From the moment he entered the field, the Magpies just didn't know what to with Liverpool's number nine. Making bursting run after bursting run, Nuñez demonstrated that his best position by far is as a striker running in between the lines with his blistering pace.

While this isn't an unknown attribute of the Uruguayan, the ruthlessness in front of goal is certainly something that Liverpool fans weren't expecting.

Last season, Nuñez often did everything right apart from the finish. He made the right runs, was in the right space at the right time, but was getting disastrously unlucky with his finishing – but even then, the forward still managed 15 goals in all competitions last year.

However, his performance against Newcastle was quite the opposite. He had two clear-cut chances late in the game and buried both of them in devastating fashion, leaving thousands of Newcastle fans shellshocked inside St. James' Park and Jason Tindall questioning his life choices.

If he is allowed to play to his strengths and he's given the minutes this season – which is no guarantee, considering the quality of Diogo Jota and Cody Gakpo – Nuñez could truly light the league on fire for Liverpool.

The quality and potential the striker possesses, albeit currently quite raw, is there for all to see and after demonstrating he can be clinical too, the sky is the limit.

READ MORE: Why Darwin x Salah partnership gives Liverpool unpredictable danger this season

LACK OF DEFENSIVE COVER

© Proshots - Trent Alexander-Arnold

Despite Liverpool recording their first clean sheet of the season last weekend against Unai Emery's Aston Villa, one thing that has stood out over the past four matches is the lack of defensive cover Klopp has to call upon.

While the club recruited four midfielders this summer, zero defenders walked through the door.

Many fans have highlighted how incredibly naive it was to decide against bringing in defensive reinforcements, with the club already light on numbers and ongoing injury problems only enhancing the issue.

READ MORE: Injuries and suspensions point to coming defensive storm at Liverpool

Liverpool's starting four defenders when everyone is fit are Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ibrahima Konate, Virgil van Dijk and Andrew Robertson. Going into the Wolves game after the international break, two of the four are injured, the captain is awaiting news regarding if his red card suspension will be extended and Robertson remains the only player currently available.

To add to that, centre-back deputisers Joe Gomez and Joel Matip may have played an excellent game against Aston Villa, but the pair are both also very injury prone and there have been question marks over their ability to adapt to Liverpool's new system.

Then in regard to Liverpool's cover at full-back, Conor Bradley is currently sidelined, while Kostas Tsimikas remains fit but has seen very limited game time so far this season.

After Nat Phillips' temporary departure to Celtic, that leaves Jarell Quansah as the only other recognisable defender at the club, and to rely on the 20-year-old with extremely limited first-team experience would be incredibly dangerous, despite his impressive cameo appearances.

Even with Liverpool's strongest back four available, the Reds have only managed one clean sheet in four games, and while the current availability issues are only short-term, if a long-term injury or two was to hit Klopp's backline, the side could be in serious trouble due to a lack of reinforcements brought in in that department.

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