5 things Jurgen Klopp needs to help Liverpool finish season on a high
Jurgen Klopp needs to ensure these five things happen to turn around Liverpool's inconsistent season, which suffered another downturn as they were knocked out of the FA Cup in a fourth-round replay at West Ham after conceding in the final minute of extra time.
The German, who fumed following his side being dumped out of the competition in a 2-1 defeat, needs to make these five things happen to ensure a positive finish to the campaign:
1. Get Sturridge on the pitch
Daniel Sturridge has had an injury-ravaged two seasons and taken plenty of criticism in the process, with some questioning his desire. Manager Jurgen Klopp has even said the England striker needs to learn the difference between "serious pain" and "only pain". However, his talent is not in doubt and when fit and on form, the former Chelsea man dramatically increases Liverpool's attacking threat. The striker has scored a goal every 72.5 minutes this season – while his appearances stand at a paltry seven, this is still an indication of his lethal finishing power. His goals have been sorely missed and he needs a good run of games. Klopp has also dismissed any question of the forward leaving the club.
2. Keep Coutinho fit
Philippe Coutinho also showed how much he has been missed over the last month as he hit the post and scored a clever free-kick in the defeat to the Hammers. It was an impressive return to action. The Brazilian playmaker looked sharp and Klopp needs him to stay that way. The 23-year-old is a key figure for Klopp, having been instrumental in their two best performances under him - the away wins at Chelsea and Manchester City. The diminutive Brazilian scored twice against Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea while weighing in with a goal and an assist at the Etihad.
3. Tighten up the defence
Klopp fielded an unfamiliar back four in the fourth round replay, which may have given him food for thought as some of his senior players have struggled of late. Mamadou Sakho and Alberto Moreno have been particularly erratic while Kolo Toure has not been convincing either. And, penalty shootout heroics aside, the reliability of goalkeeper Simon Mignolet remains a concern. The Anfield outfit have conceded 36 times in the Premier League this season, seeing them placed at 15th in the ‘goals against’ table.
4. Win the Capital One Cup
The quickest way to lift spirits would be to beat Manchester City at Wembley on February 28. Klopp really needs a pre-season to start getting his claws into this Liverpool squad but it would be a significant help to get a trophy under his belt as soon as he can. Predecessor Brendan Rodgers failed to win any silverware and that weighed heavily against him as patience began to run out.
5. Put energies into the Europa League
This one may be debated but, with the top four positions in the Barclays Premier League drifting further away and the FA Cup now gone, it might be time for a reassessment of priorities. The Europa League is a long slog but, if Klopp can successfully see his side past Augsburg into the last 16, it might be worth starting to take the competition seriously. He has the tactical nous to succeed and the possible reward of a Champions League place for going all the way provides some incentive.