Liverpool analysis – Naby Keita still struggling to catch fire as defensive problems mount – Liverpool Echo

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Liverpool analysis – Naby Keita still struggling to catch fire as defensive problems mount – Liverpool Echo

Keita struggles

It was a big chance for Liverpool’s No.8 to stake his claim.

Naby Keita, for all his endearing qualities, has so far struggled to catch fire as a Liverpool player.

A start at Molineux then gave him a chance to take flight as a £52million all-action midfielder.

It was one that passed him by.

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Liverpool v Wolves

Too often the Guinea international went quiet, rarely seeing the ball or exerting any considerable influence.

One moment in the first half showed exactly what he was capable of as he cut the Wolves defence apart with a laser-guided through ball – one that Alberto Moreno would have been on the end of had he not strayed marginally offside.

It’s early days for Keita and he has all the tools to become a top midfielder in this upwardly mobile Liverpool team. But more will be needed over the coming months.

(Not so) Up for the Cup

For all his exploits and accomplishments since taking charge at Anfield, Jurgen Klopp‘s FA Cup history is chequered.

Already dispatched by West Ham, Wolves and West Brom, the Reds manager can now add the Midlands side to that list once more.



Liverpool Manager Jurgen Klopp and Fabinho look on after losing the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool at Molineux
Liverpool Manager Jurgen Klopp and Fabinho look on after losing the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool at Molineux

It’s lustre and allure has dimmed considerably over the years, but the FA Cup remains an presentable opportunity to end Liverpool’s wait for silverware.

A wait which stretches into its seventh-year next month. Plans of an eighth FA Cup win will have to wait another 12 months however after a makeshift side wilted to an impressive Wolves outfit.

There’s no shame in that of course. Nuno Espirito Santo’s men on their home soil of course. Wolves have been a breath of fresh air in the Premier League this season and an unfamiliar Reds lineup was always going to have a tough examination.

See how we rated the Liverpool players after 2-1 defeat to Wolves – HERE

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Klopp will lament the loss, of course, but not for long.

In the grander scheme, Liverpool have bigger fish to fry.

Bayern Munich in the Champions League will be Liverpool’s next taste of cup competition next month, but in the meantime, Klopp’s Reds have the small matter of trying to extend their four-point advantage at the top of the Premier League.

Klopp’s patchy FA Cup form goes on, but no-one at Anfield will losing too much of their sleep.

A case for the defence



Dejan Lovren receives help before leaving the pitch injured during the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool at Molineux
Dejan Lovren receives help before leaving the pitch injured during the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool at Molineux

In years to come, it will be the answer to a quiz question.

Just who finished the game as Liverpool’s back four in their FA Cup defeat at Wolves?

Dejan Lovren’s early injury meant 16-year-old Ki-Jana Hoever was thrown into the fray for his first taste of senior action.

He looked to his right and seen Rafa Camacho, the 18-year-old Portuguese who was operating out of position.

To his left, Fabinho – the Brazilian international midfielder who infrequently plays as a right-back but never at centre-back.

Only Alberto Moreno was something of a regular at the back and he was making just his fifth appearance of the campaign.



Liverpool's Ki-Jana Hoever during the Emirates FA Cup, third round match at Molineux, Wolverhampton.
Liverpool’s Ki-Jana Hoever during the Emirates FA Cup, third round match at Molineux, Wolverhampton.

Klopp claimed before the game he would not be delving into the transfer market to ease a centre-back crisis as Joel Matip and Joe Gomez near a return.

An injury to Dejan Lovren however might force him into a re-think.

Liverpool simply can’t allow for injury-prone centre-backs to derail their Premier League title charge. When fit, the Reds have four defenders who range from good to great, but only Van Dijk stays consistently free of problems.

Top-class operatives are rarely available in the January market, but Liverpool don’t need one at present.

They might, though, need an able deputy as the treatment room threatens to become overrun by centre-backs.

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