Under manager Jürgen Klopp, Liverpool have become a more aggressive side, pressing opponents high up the pitch in an attempt to force turnovers. It’s been a shift from the more patient approach favoured by former manager Brendan Rodgers, and one the players have largely seemed to embrace.
Former Liverpool defender John Arne Riise, though, is convinced the balance of the squad is wrong. That this is a team that despite Klopp’s best efforts still lacks the necessary passion and intensity to take the game to the opposition, and he believes the side is set for a major summer overhaul that will focus on aggression.
"In football, you need players to smash the opposition," the Norwegian fullback told FourFourTwo this week. "The fans love to see aggression and passion. When I played for Liverpool, no team liked to come to Anfield because they knew they would be in for a tough game where there would be plenty of aggression.
"That level of intensity and passion is coming back, and it comes from the influence of the manager, but Liverpool also need to bring in new players. Yes, you need the creative players like Firmino and Coutinho, but you also need people to get stuck in and smash the opponents like [we] did when I was there."
As for where that aggression should arrive, Riise points to the spine of the team not being strong or physical enough. Goalkeeper, central defender, midfielder, striker. From one end of the pitch to the other, Riise believes the middle needs a complete overhaul if the Reds are to be consistently successful in the coming years.
"The core needs to be stronger," he said. "They need a new goalkeeper, a new centre back, a new central midfielder, and a striker. We once had players like Gerrard, Fernando Torres, and Xabi Alonso who were footballers at the top of their games. We need those types of players at Liverpool again."
Few would argue Liverpool need improvements, or that many of the players currently at the club don’t measure up to the level of Gerrard, Torres, and Alonso. Torres and Alonso at least were hardly known for smashing the opposition through intense, aggressive play, though—certainly no more so than Coutinho or Firmino.
Yet as a larger point, it’s hard to argue too much with the idea that Liverpool need to sign a player or two who can make an instant impact, and that the spine of the team could use some work. Or at the very least that the club could use a few quality players who won’t spend half the season on the injured list.