Another one bites the dust. Ukrainian winger Yevhen Konoplyanka joins a long list of targets Liverpool have missed over the last two years, Clint Dempsey, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Diego Costa, Willian and Mohamed Salah. This time though, it was not Tottenham or Chelsea stealing the Dnipro attacker, nor was it much-maligned Managing Director Ian Ayre being too stingy, instead it was Dnipro’s multi-billionaire owner seeing no reason to sell and just downright refusing to sign the paperwork.
Further pessimism could be felt amongst Liverpool fans as well, since no defensive midfield cover was signed nor any cover for the full-back positions. Basically, the January transfer window that has just passed us by yielded nothing in terms of new players.
However, optimism should still be plentiful at Anfield. After that crushing 4-0 defeat of city rivals Everton at Anfield on Tuesday night, Brendan Rodgers’ men are seven points off the top, three points ahead of fifth place Spurs and four ahead of the Blues from Merseyside.
The full-backs position doesn’t look as worrying as some make it out to be. Jon Flanagan has returned to fitness and is looking to nail down a permanent right-back position. Glen Johnson, suffering poor form for most of the season so far, may now have to settle for a place on the bench upon his return from injury. Martin Kelly’s gradual reintroduction into the first-team could also see him play on either side of defence, though such is the flexibility and adaptability Flanagan has shown this season before his injury, Kelly would provide a solid option at right-back should Flanagan need to deputise on the left.
Aly Cissokho had a solid game up against Steven Pienaar and Kevin Miralles in the derby, and will hope to continue his solid defensive work for the next couple of games, with Flanagan breathing down his neck now too. Jose Enrique is probably a month away, but his return will come just in time for the crucial run-in from March onwards.
Joe Allen’s return for this weekend’s fixture away at the Hawthorns provides Rodgers with another body in the midfield area. With Rodgers likely to stick with the team that beat Everton so convincingly, Philipp Coutinho will continue in his favoured central position, while Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge share the responsibilities at left-wing. Captain Steven Gerrard’s continued transition into holding midfield player looks on track, and with Allen capable of playing as a defensive midfielder as well, Liverpool should be able to cope till Lucas returns, hopefully in time for the run-in.
Still, one can only hope no one else gets seriously injured while Rodgers wait for his walking wounded to return. None more so than Jordan Henderson, whose boundless energy in midfield is probably the biggest clog in Rodgers’ really offensive line-up. One can also hope that Luis Alberto will start coming into his own in the next few weeks – sooner or later, one of Henderson or Gerrard will need a break. Also, missing out on Salah and Konoplyanka could see more of a look-in for Jordon Ibe in the second-half of the season?
And for further optimism, why not Liverpool fans hope that Iago Aspas can come off the bench and start hitting the goal trail?