Gary Neville has warned Jurgen Klopp that a lack of quality depth in attack could prove costly for Liverpool this season.
The Reds’ star trio of Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are widely accepted to be one of the best forward lines on the planet, but despite all that firepower, Liverpool are without a goal in their last three games, the most recent of which was Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Manchester United.
That dry spell has seen Liverpool fall to fourth in the Premier League table, and Neville insisted on Sky Sports‘ Monday Night Football that Klopp is too scared to rest his tired front three because of the lack of quality alternatives.
“To me I feel like it’s under control at Liverpool. They’ve played non-stop for three years and the fourth year is always the burn out year,” he said. “For three years they’ve been unbelievable. This year we’ve seen a dip and that’s natural.
“He could potentially give them a rest, but they don’t get a rest. The two or three players underneath that front three – [Xherdan] Shaqiri, [Takumi] Minamino and [Divock] Origi – are not good enough.
“I would say the problems for Liverpool are not the front three, it’s [Diogo] Jota’s injury, the season being 100mph and the three beneath them are not good enough to give them a rest as City have pushed them.”
The trio of Shaqiri, Minamino and Origi are rarely afforded starts, but in their limited minutes, they have managed just one Premier League goal between them. Last season, that number was five, four of which came from Origi.
While Neville’s focus was on the reserves, co-pundit Jamie Carragher took the opportunity to question Firmino, admitting he is concerned for the Brazilian’s future at Anfield.
“Bringing others into the game has dropped off and the counter-pressing and winning the ball back has dropped off,” Carragher said. “I’m not just saying this season, I am going back to last season when Liverpool won the league.
“I was worried then, wondering could [Firmino] turn it around. He is the one I am worried about more and if there is one to be phased out before the others, I probably think it would be Firmino. Sooner or later that front three will have to be broken up.
“The goals have been steadily going down. What stands out as well is his possession numbers. It is a massive drop off. When he was not getting the goals and assists he was doing the other stuff, but it is a massive drop off.
“He is the one I am worried about. Whether it be a lack of form or that slow decline as you get older, which is natural for any attacker when you get to the late 20s because they do not play as long as other players on football pitches.”