If you were looking to criticise an aspect of Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool team over the last two seasons, you'd be looking for quite a while. 


Since the start of last season, they have scored 109 Premier League goals and conceded just 28. They've won 38 out of 46 games, drawn seven and lost one. 


Only a marginally more formidable Manchester City side prevented them from winning the division at an absolute canter, and while it's early yet, it's beginning to look like even they may have no answer to them this time around. Put simply, it's the best ​Liverpool team in recent memory by some distance. 

Andy Robertson

But if you were to hold them up to the meteoric standards they've set for themselves and give them no leeway whatsoever, then some surface analysis would suggest that creativity from midfield is where they are lacking. 


It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see why. The vast majority of their goals are created either by the marauding Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold and the redoubtable front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, those five between them assisting 38 of the Reds' 89 league goals in 2018/19. Their midfielders, conversely laid on nine.


In terms of goals scored, it's a similar story. Just 12 of their goals over the course of the 2018/19 season came from midfield players, accounting for just 13% of their league goals. ​Manchester City, meanwhile saw 24% of their goals come through midfielders.

David Silva,Kevin De Bruyne

It makes you wonder what sort of damage the Reds could do if they had a midfielder capable of carrying a consistent threat in between the lines, with the engine to play week in week out, that could - if given license to - take some goalscoring pressure off the front three.


Georginio Wijnaldum might have something to say about that. 


The perception of the version Wijnaldum that plays for Ronald Koeman's Netherlands is drastically different to that of the one that plays for Liverpool. While the player that turns out at Anfield is a consistent workhorse, efficient at regaining possession and masterful at holding onto the ball, it's rare that he will step out and make an impact in the attacking third. 

Georginio Wijnaldum,Ricardo Pereira

He scored five goals for Liverpool last season, and that's as many as he's scored for his country in their six Euro 2020 qualifiers. For the Netherlands, he is an attacking machine. 


His latest goalscoring exploits came in a 2-1 win over Belarus, as he scored both of his side's goals in the first half. Though the Netherlands were far from their fluent, Wijnaldum showcased a range of attributes he is rarely able to while playing at Anfield. 


His movement in the area for the opener looked more like that of ​Sadio Mané than the Reds' understated number five, feigning to run to the near post before peeling off into the space between the centre-back and the full-back and leaping like a salmon to direct a header beyond the keeper.

Georginio Wijnaldum

And then his second goal, stopping his run half a yard short, checking the space before receiving the ball and then arrowing an effort into the far corner; seemingly straight from the Steven Gerrard textbook. 


All in, it was the kind of form he shows regularly for his country but only notably replicated once for the European champions last season - albeit when it mattered most against ​Barcelona. That was a ferocious display teeming with attacking determination, and an excellence of execution to go along with it - although the latter part is nothing new. 


It should be noted, of course, that he is asked to play a different role with the Netherlands than he is with Liverpool. Joining a midfield that usually includes Frenkie de Jong and one of Donny van de Beek or Marten de Roon, he's given a clear responsibility to get forward and influence the game. He rarely has to be mindful of what is happening in the full-back areas, with Joel Veltman and Daley Blind far less likely to hit the byline than Alexander-Arnold or Robertson. 

Daley Blind

With Liverpool, he forms part of a usually rigid three that acts as the gravitational centre of the team, providing the base for the trio of attackers to do what they do. In other words, any attacking muscle he could carry is sacrificed to allow the more prolific players to do their thing. 


This all harks back to the topic question: why aren't Liverpool creating goals from midfield proportional to their attacking brilliance? 


Perhaps that's because they're so relentlessly effective at scoring goals through other avenues that they don't need someone in between the lines making things happen. Maybe if Wijnaldum was to play in the final third all the time, he'd stand on Firmino's toes when he drops into those positions to get the team going. 

Georginio Wijnaldum,Roberto Firmino

However, if we're asking the midfield to step forward and pull their weight in terms of goals and assists, then let's put Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to one side for a second. There's a player in the engine room well capable of getting himself up the park, dictating the tempo and chipping in with an undercurrent of goals. 


Whether Liverpool can find the tactical equilibrium to draw it out of him is another matter, but if they can, it may just prove to be the stroke of genius that kicks their title challenge up a gear.  


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