Saturday 7 December 2019

5 things Jurgen Klopp needs to help Liverpool finish season on a high

Liverpool need Daniel Sturridge fit and firing
Liverpool need Daniel Sturridge fit and firing

Liverpool's inconsistent season suffered another downturn as they were knocked out of the FA Cup in a fourth-round replay at West Ham, 2-1 after extra time.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at five things manager Jurgen Klopp needs to ensure a positive finish to the campaign.

1. Get Sturridge on the field

Daniel Sturridge has had an injury-ravaged two seasons and taken plenty of criticism in the process, with some questioning his desire. Manager Jurgen Klopp has even said the England striker needs to learn the difference between "serious pain" and "only pain". But his talent is not in doubt and when fit and on form, the former Chelsea man dramatically increases Liverpool's attacking threat. His goals have been sorely missed and he needs a good run of games.

2. Keep Coutinho fit

Philippe Coutinho also showed how much he has been missed over the last month as he hit the post and scored a clever free-kick. It was an impressive return to action. The Brazilian playmaker looked sharp and Klopp needs him to stay that way. Coutinho is a key figure for Klopp having been instrumental in their two best performances under him - the away wins at Chelsea and Manchester City.

3. Tighten up the defence

Klopp fielded an unfamiliar back four in this tie and maybe it gave him food for thought as some of his senior players have struggled of late. Mamadou Sakho and Alberto Moreno have been particularly erratic while Kolo Toure has not been convincing either. And, penalty shootout heroics aside, the reliability of goalkeeper Simon Mignolet remains a concern.

4. Win the Capital One Cup

The quickest way to lift spirits would be to beat Manchester City at Wembley on February 28. Klopp really needs a pre-season to start getting his claws into this Liverpool squad but it would be a significant help to get a trophy under his belt as soon as he can. Predecessor Brendan Rodgers failed to win any silverware and that weighed heavily against him as patience began to run out.

5. Put energies into the Europa League

This one may be debated but, with the top four positions in the Barclays Premier League drifting further away and the FA Cup now gone, it might be time for a reassessment of priorities. The Europa League is a long slog but, if Klopp can successfully see his side past Augsburg into the last 16, it might be worth starting to take the competition seriously. He has the tactical nous to succeed and the possible reward of a Champions League place for going all the way provides some incentive.

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