Liverpool’s bright start to the Premier League season has hit a slight bump in the road, knocking them off the pace of leaders Chelsea at the top.
The Reds were matching Antonio Conte’s men stride-for-stride, but errors at the back that have cost the club in recent years have reared their head once again.
One of the biggest decisions Jurgen Klopp made over the summer was to turn down the opportunity to sign Joe Hart after the England number one was deemed surplus to requirements at Manchester City by new manager Pep Guardiola.
Instead the German bought Mainz keeper Loris Karius, although at the start of the campaign he insisted that incumbent Simon Mignolet was his starter between the sticks.
Mignolet was solid for the first two months of the campaign, but his last game came when the Reds overcame Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in a 2-1 victory.
Good start, but frailties slowly get exposed
Klopp’s men kicked on from their win – although Karius replaced the Belgian – winning six of their next eight matches to leave themselves in a promising position at the start of December.
However, a second-half collapse against Bournemouth highlighted the frailty of the Liverpool backline, and more importantly Karius, whose late mistake cost the Reds a point in the fixture.
The German was again at fault for West Ham’s opener and hardly covered himself in glory for the Hammers’ second goal in their 2-2 draw at Anfield.
Karius has come under-fire from pundits, and although Klopp has fiercely defended his keeper, Liverpool can ill afford further setbacks in their bid for the Premier League crown both now and in the future.
Must move for another keeper — maybe Joe Hart?
The Reds are currently backed in the latest Premier League betting odds at 7/1 to win the top-flight title, but their struggles between the sticks should prompt their manager into a move at the end of the season as both their keepers do not seem to be long-term solutions to their issues.
Hart has been solid since his loan move to Torino, albeit one early mistake into his career in Serie A.
The England keeper would relish a move back to a Premier League contender to prove a point to Guardiola that he is still one of the best in his position in the world, especially in the light of Claudio Bravo’s struggles with the Citizens this term.
The 29-year-old is a vocal presence at the back and plays with plenty of passion.
One of the poor aspects of Liverpool’s play has been their organisation at the back, which declined following the retirement of Jamie Carragher.
Joel Matip has been a good signing for the Reds, but has not established himself enough in the team to take over the role, while Dejan Lovren has plenty of his own problems to worry about before thinking about others in the line.
Hart would add a presence to the defence, keeping them in shape and aware of runners from deep.
Not perfect, but a step up
He’s not perfect as his errors in an England shirt in Euro 2016 proved, but he would a step up in class above Mignolet and Karius to offer a security-blanket to Klopp, and also leadership through the spine of the team.
The 29-year-old will likely be available next summer and this time the German has to pull the trigger on a deal.
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