The last pre-season friendly is won, the first real match beckons, and football season is officially here. In just one week's time we'll be ringing in the new campaign watching Liverpool play Southampton, so that means it's time to look at the squad's depth once more.
This certainly seems like a much deeper group than it ever did last season, and that's without Adam Lallana in the lineup via injury. Plug him back in, and a 4-3-3 becomes more of a 4-2-3-1 again, with an attacking midfield band so versatile and dynamic that it will put most defenses in to a cold sweat just thinking about it. Without him, things are still perfectly fine, with a midfield trio that turns the focus a little more control-oriented, with more long passes from deep and supporting runs from the midfield.
Lallana would, in theory anyways, replace Joe Allen, who then heads to the bench as a reserve to Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson. Emre Can is also capable of filling the same role as Allen, but it seems likely that Allen would be preferred to start, for now, as Brendan Rodgers is more familiar with him and would want to bed Can in a little more before heaping too much responsibility on his plate.
On a whole, this is a much better balanced side with far better depth than we ever saw last season. Losing Luis Suarez hurts, obviously, but with the additions that have been made, this might be a better team than it was before, with the side working as a single unit to achieve its goals rather than "get it to Luis, put bodies around him in support, and see what happens." It will take a little time before this team gets up to full speed, especially with Lallana out for at least the first three matches, but this could be a damn exciting team once everything is said and done.
Note: The graphic was prepared in advance of the friendly before seeing Manquillo's performance against Dortmund. With that in mind, I would likely put him over Kelly were I making it now. The chart below reflects that change.
|Key: Starter (Bold), U21/Academy (Italics), Injured (Orange), Suspended (Blue), On Loan (L)|
|Goalkeepers||Central Defenders||Fullbacks||Central Mids||Attacking Mids||Strikers|
|Simon Mignolet||Martin Skrtel||Glen Johnson||Steven Gerrard||Raheem Sterling||Daniel Sturridge|
|Brad Jones||Mamadou Sakho||Jose Enrique||Jordan Henderson||Adam Lallana||Rickie Lambert|
|Lawrence Vigouroux||Dejan Lovren||Jon Flanagan||Joe Allen||Philippe Coutinho||Fabio Borini|
|Daniel Agger||Javier Manquillo||Lucas Leiva||Lazar Markovich||Lazar Markovich|
|Kolo Toure||Jack Robinson||Emre Can||Suso||Jerome Sinclair|
|Sebastian Coates||Martin Kelly||Adam Lallana||Fabio Borini||Samed Yesil|
||Tiago Ilori||Emre Can||Philippe Coutinho||Oussama Assaidi|
|Martin Kelly||Ryan McLaughlin||Joao Teixeira||Jordon Ibe||
|Kevin Stewart||Marc Pelosi||Jordan Rossiter||Kristoffer Peterson|
|Lloyd Jones||Kevin Stewart||Jordan Lussey||Joao Teixeira|
|Andre Wisdom (L)||Andre Wisdom (L)||Jack Dunn||Jack Dunn|
|Rafa Paez (L)||Brad Smith (L)||Sheyi Ojo||Luis Alberto (L)|
For new readers, or those of you who haven't seen 3XI in awhile, here's a quick refresher of how this works:
- This is a project that takes a regular look at the current state of Liverpool's depth chart, projecting starters and reserves at each position.
- The graphic shows each of the eleven positions on the field with a starter and two reserves (hence the name "3XI"). Each player is shown in their primary position in the given formation (generally selected based on recent formations used by Liverpool), so only appears once on the chart no matter where else on the pitch they may be involved in for depth purposes. Injured or suspended players are not included here, with exception of injuries believed to be very short-term in nature.
- The table below the chart is a more broad-strokes look at the depth. Each position group is more generalized, and we see players listed in each group they are involved in. This is also where injured, suspended, or on-loan players are listed for reference.
- Thanks as always go to Dave Clark of Sounder at Heart for coming up with the 3XI concept and format and allowing me to use and modify it for use at The Liverpool Offside.
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