After a difficult 2022-23 season saw Liverpool struggle with injuries, poor form, and the fading legs of an aging midfield core, the start of the 2023-24 campaign has seen a rebuilt and revitalized group rediscover their winning ways.
Better play and results have gone hand in hand, and a renewed belief has helped the Reds record victories both from behind and down a man. Depth, increasingly, has also been a talking point. In that, all of a sudden Liverpool seem to have a lot of it.
“One of the biggest lessons of the last few weeks,” noted captain Virgil van Dijk, “has been the importance of having a squad made up of players who are ready to make a contribution whether they start games or come on off the bench.”
That depth means that while Van Dijk is unlikely to start against Leicester City in Liverpool’s League Cup bow, it won’t be a team made up entirely of youth players getting the call as the Reds take on the top side in the Championship later today.
There may be a smattering of youngsters mixed in, but even they are likely to be names most fans are already well aware of—players like Srtefan Bajcetic and Ben Doak and Harvey Elliott—mixed in amongst a few more experienced heads.
Forwards like Cody Gakpo and Diogo Jota who haven’t been first choice in recent weeks will be expected to start, and in midfield Wataru Endo will need minutes as the screening specialist continues to adjust to life in the new league.
“In all of the fixtures we have played so far this season one of the biggest features has been that it doesn’t matter who starts and who finishes,” Van Dijk added of the growing confidence in the side’s depth. “Everyone has a part to play.
“It is also something that we are going to need because we are in four competitions and each one of them brings its own challenges, [and] whoever is fortunate enough to be given a shirt has to live up to the standards that are already being set.
“The work that has been done up to this point allows it to be like this. That is not to say that everything has been perfect so far—far from it. But the attitude and commitment have been real positives and long may this continue.”