Date: 18th July 2011 at 8:00pm
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Kenny Dalglish’s focus on improving Liverpool’s midfield this summer has seen three new midfielders arriving at Anfield already. Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing and Charlie Adam join nine senior midfielders on Merseyside and whilst they will no doubt be a clear-out of some of the existing unwanted players, is variety in the midfield a selection headache for Kenny?

One of the clichés of modern football is that it is a squad game, the ability to give a rest to the tired and freshen up the team if things are not going your way. Liverpool’s small squad was often stretched last season and Dalglish has clearly recognized the need to add more bodies in the midfield.

Henderson, Downing and Adam join Steven Gerrard, Raul Meireles, Joe Cole, Maxi Rodriguez, Jay Spearing, Lucas, Christian Poulsen, Jonjo Shelvey and Alberto Aquilani as Dalglish’s senior midfield options. I wouldn’t be surprised if a handful of these are sold (the obvious candidates being Cole, Poulsen and Aquilani) but that still leaves Dalglish with a variety of choices in the middle of the park. He will also have various young academy players pushing for a breakthrough, though their opportunities could be limited as Kenny continues to invest.

The rumoured departure of Meireles is a perplexing one. Whilst he has confirmed that he is looking to stay, interest in his services has been building all summer. The Portuguese midfielder enjoyed an impressive first season at Anfield and whilst Henderson and Adam play in similar positions, Dalglish should keep hold of the former Porto man. If Dalglish is looking for variety, Meireles is the perfect player to have amongst your squad.

With a lack of natural width Dalglish’s tactics have often concentrated on the centre of midfield, where the likes of Lucas and Spearing can sit and hold whilst Gerrard, Dirk Kuyt, Maxi and Meireles offer support to the strikers. In this respect Dalglish has made two perfect acquisitions with the creativity and energy of Henderson and the passing range of Adam adding to the Reds’ midfield. But all these options may cause some sleepless nights for Dalglish as he works out how best to fit his new big money stars around the established squad. Henderson’s £20 million price tag means he can’t simply be a squad player whilst Adam’s ability would be wasted on the bench. Dalglish must find a formation that suits Liverpool’s style of play and balances their attacking guile and defensive responsibilities.

But whilst Dalglish has a variety of players for one position, a lack of width always hindered Liverpool. Maxi and Kuyt are crucial players for the Reds as they can occupy the flanks but neither are your typical running at defenders wingers. Liverpool’s capture of Aston Villa’s Stewart Downing will address that problem. In Downing Dalglish has a player that is willing to run at defenders down the flanks and deliver the telling crosses for the likes of Andy Carroll.
Dalglish’s summer transfer policy has meant that the Liverpool boss has plenty of variety in midfield and whilst balancing all these players may give Dalglish the occasional headache, it is a headache worth having in the Reds’ push for success next season.

If you want to read more of my bite size, 160 character views and thoughts follow me on Twitter @jennyk5

Article courtesy of Jenny Kerwood at Football FanCast


11 responses to “How Dalglish is going to solve the midfield puzzle”

  1. Dan says:

    Why do people keep harping on about this? We’re finally building some squad depth and the answer is quite simple.

    Adam, Gerrard, and Lucas will be the lynchpins. Downing can operate on either wing. Henderson can deputise in the middle or play right. Cole and Aquilani are playmakers that give us something different in the middle – or can fill in for Suarez behind the main striker. Maxi and Mereiles can also play up front or wide in a front three.

    Spearing and Shelvey will be loaned out to get experience.

    We may sell Poulsen and one or two others but don’t expect a mass clearout. Dalglish, Clarke, and Henry are all singing the praises of Aquilani – and Cole appears to be getting another chance.

  2. njanja says:

    I believe Dan completely!

  3. luke says:


    Where is Kuyt in all this, people dont realise he is one of the main parts of the liverpool squad, 15 goals last season.

  4. Imran says:

    Dan, couldn’t agree more. Am amazed at the moaning I am hearing about this. Seems couch managers are up in arms and suddenly know more the Kenny who’s actually been there, done that. Matches are won or lost in the middle of the park. Finally we get some strength in depth yet there are complaints. Let stick to what we are good at and let Kenny stick to his. YNWA

  5. Chuky 64 says:

    I would love to see kuyt alongside suarez. I prefer him to Andy. The midfield should be Gerard, Lucas Adam and Downin.

  6. Mikey76 says:

    Really, really disagree that Aquilani is among the most likely to be sold. The guy is a top player and can create and pass through the eye of a needle.

    You also have to remember, bearing in mind his age and injury problems (and playing for England still), Gerrard is not going to play every game. Suarez will be cup fatigued and miss the start of the season. Shelvey will probably go on loan (as may Spearing?) and Poulsen will probably be sold. Cole is a difficult one to call, but I would not be surprised if Redknapp comes in for him when Modric goes to Chelski.

  7. jonah says:

    king kenny knows best. There can be some kind of rotation

  8. magic says:

    With the new tune being pass-and-go; why on earth sell the Aquaman?

  9. Dan says:

    Magic, plain and simple MONEY, they can’t sound until they sell, who else can fetch 12 mill plus. I hope they don’t he made a huge difference on the weekend and turned the game around completely even if people say it was against a week side, but the first half was against the same side so why didn’t we score as many As in the second half

  10. sai says:

    with the strenghthening of midfield we are strenghtening defense too..
    midfield options could could provide players that could also play defense..
    with formation we are getting a defensive with counter type attack which will be opted mostly by the king..
    also 4.4.2 formation gives a flexibilty in the wings which can provide option for downong and maxi to provide crosses..
    i believe purchase of adam with his diagonal passes could benefit downing alot.

    plyers chosen has their style of play which could provide flexibiltiy in style of play in the game itself. for eg;
    adam is an offensive fast player while aquilani will be opted for slow play.
    henderson will be a hard worker along side adam/ aquilani.
    choice will be lucas/henderson.
    i believe it will be poulsen/cole who has to be outcasted.
    but by the attitude of cole shown in games he could make a comeback upto some extent..
    maybe he must be loned to some teams other than in bpl… anyway kenny knows everything..
    we will be a headache for man.U.. hehe