John Aldridge: Jurgen Klopp might be forced to drop one of his key men after an alarming dip in form
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Liverpool goal scoring great John Aldridge believes Reds manager Jurgen Klopp may have to consider a shake-up in his forward line, as he believes Roberto Firmino is not justifying his place in the starting line-up.
Firmino was a key player in Liverpool's dynamic front three completed by Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane as the club reached last May's Champions League final, but the Brazilian has struggled to click into top fear this season and Aldridge believes Klopp could consider a change in his forward line.
"Roberto Firmino was a passenger once again against Arsenal on Saturday and this has been a theme over the course of this season," states Aldridge. "I don’t know what has happened, but Firmino is not the same player who was so important to this Liverpool side last season.
"Salah and Mane need Firmino to link their dynamic attacking combination, with his pace, movement and intelligence shining through time and again last season.
"The display at Arsenal was not the first below par performance of the season and we have reached the point where Klopp needs to consider leaving him out and trying something different up front."
Xherdan Shaqiri has not traveled with Liverpool for their Champions League class against Red Star Belgrade on Tuesday amid fears the Kosovo-born star would have faced a hostile reception from Serbian supporters, yet Aldridge believes he could be a good option for Klopp to turn to in future games if he looks to freshen up his forward line.
"Shaqiri has looked threatening when he has come off the bench and maybe it is worth trying him on the wing and Salah up front, even if that is a little harsh on Firmino after all the good work he did last season," he added.
"Liverpool still look like the second best team in England, but the gap between the top side and the rest is still big, even if the chasing pack have got a little closer this season."
"Champions Manchester City have raised the bar to such a high level that anyone with ambitions to finish ahead of them this season need to win every game to stay with them because they will not drop too many points over the course of this season.
"To have 27 points on the board after just 11 Premier League games would normally be enough to be clear at the top, but one team has changed the rules of normality in the race for top spot and Liverpool will struggle to maintain such a fierce pace.
"This is why I believe City will be champions once again, as they are a winning machine that have plenty of margin for error in most games they play. Away games against top six rivals will be a test for them, but they will beat the rest of the Premier League sides with ease and it leads the rest have to reach improbable heights to compete with them."