January is when titles are won or lost. It’s what separates the wheat from the chaff. Last summer brought an entirely new midfield and new leadership in the squad. Most fans thought at the time that the squad were still short of being able to compete for a title. Short a center back, and a CDM. However, by all accounts Klopp’s LFC 2.0 is ahead of schedule. The mighty Reds were 1 point off the top at Christmas and if not for some incomprehensible fuckups by the dildos at the PGMOL would be 4-5 points clear. Still as we enter the new year and face the nuevo-riche Newcastle at Anfield on Monday many questions remain.
How will the reds cope without Salah and Endo?
After the visit by the Magpies the Egyptian King will be off to AFCON and Wataru Endo off to the ASEAN cup. The absence of Mac Allister has seen Endo quietly, but effectively assert his position at the base of the midfield. He’s not the flashiest and at times risks being caught on the ball but his performances have improved substantially and he’ll no doubt be missed. Replacing Salah’s goals looks a more pressing problem. So far Mo has carried the scoring load with Darwin, Gakpo, and Diaz all being hit or (more often) miss so far this season. Jota is back from injury and we’ll need him and the other forwards to step up in Mo’s absence or the hard graft of the first half of the season could unravel. Darwin had an exquisite finish against Burnley, Cody had one ruled out again by the sheer lunacy of Paul Tierney and VAR, and Jota banged in the 90th minute clincher in a surprise cameo to raise hopes that the goals won’t just dry up. A now more prolific midfield can also help ease the burden.
Will Klopp dip into the market?
With Robertson not yet back from injury, the loss of Matip and Tsimikas to season ending injuries has seen our back line suddenly look thin. Matip looks to have played his last game in Red. One of Klopp’s few managerial faults has been his tremendous loyalty to players. Sometimes this has been to his detriment. Will he have the necessary ruthlessness to make the move for a permanent Matip replacement in January? So far Gomez has done amazingly well filling in all along the back line but his own injury record, and that of Konate don’t instill tremendous confidence for playing 90’ game in game out. Quansah, the surprise of the season, hasn’t looked one bit out of place on the big stage and will no doubt save the club millions. But he is still a kid and we should expect growing pains along the way. However, most still see us as one defensive injury away from catastrophe or at the least a world-beater CDM away from the bossing the league. We’ll be linked with every player under the sun in January, we are the kings of clickbait generation. Klopp will face some hard choices and he’s been reluctant in the past to bring new players in January. But the league is there for the taking and no doubt our fellow chasers will look to strengthen. Such opportunities have passed us by in years past. Will they do so again?
Can we keep our League (and FA) cup running over?
January brings a two-legged Carabao cup semifinal clash with the Cottagers. The Reds will be favorites to reach Wembley, but Fulham have proven a bit of a sticky wicket and will no doubt put their best foot forward in search for a very rare bit of hardware for Craven Cottage. We also pay a visit to the Emirates for a top of the table clash in the FA cup, one of two away trips to Arsenal in the coming weeks. Mo will miss at least the first if not both trips to the Arse. If nothing else these high-profile cup matches could put strain on an already depleted squad.
Will we see Thiago, Bajcetic, and Robertson in January?
Thiago and Baj have both been huge absences. The former’s experience and quality on the ball could have paid huge dividends in games against bus parkers, potentially turning 1 point results into 3. Klopp clearly views the later as a central element of LFC 2.0, which explains the move for the journeyman Endo in the summer. Yet Baj’s injury woes have seen him miss the entire season so far. Robertson can’t get back soon enough. We have missed Robbo both going forward and in defense. Not that Tsimikas has been poor per se, he’s mostly done well enough. But Robbo just brings a level of quality, grit, and shithousery to the table that the Greek scouser lacks. Getting Thiago, Baj, Robbo, and Alexis back into the fold would substantially boost our silverware credentials.
But first come the barcodes. They have their own injury crisis and after a cracking start they have looked more than a bit weary of late. However, they always give us a game and it took two bangers from Darwin for a 10-man Liverpool to steal the points on Tyneside. Expect Howe’s men to come to Anfield with conviction. It’s a big month with big questions. If Klopp and the boys can get the right answers then Klopp’s LFC 2.0 can get off the mark with a bang.