Liverpool.com journalist Emmet Gates thinks the Reds' failure to replace Georginio Wijnaldum in the summer has contributed to their defensive issues this season.
Wijnaldum left Anfield after five years of service when his contract expired in June, as he opted to move to Ligue 1 giants PSG.
How have Liverpool fared defensively this season?
From an attacking perspective, Liverpool have been breathtaking at times this season, with Jurgen Klopp's men netting 31 times in their opening 11 top-flight fixtures.
They have been less impressive at the back, though. The team have conceded 11 goals this term, including five in their last two league matches against Brighton and West Ham.
By comparison, Chelsea and Manchester City have shipped four and six goals, respectively, indicating that opponents have found them much more difficult to break down.
What has Gates said about Liverpool's defensive problems?
Gates believes that Liverpool are missing Wijnaldum in the middle of the park, as the 83-cap international supported the defence well during his time on Merseyside.
Addressing Liverpool's defensive fragility this season, Gates told GIVEMESPORT: “You have the fact that Gini Wijnaldum was never replaced. And Liverpool, aside from Fabinho, don’t have a player who’s kind of in the Wijnaldum mould.
“He offered so much defensive cover, so much protection for the defence from his midfield position.”
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Should Liverpool look to sign a Wijnaldum replacement in January?
In fairness, Harvey Elliott looked a fine prospect before he broke his ankle in September, and Curtis Jones has shone in central midfield at times this season. However, they are both still young, developing players, with much to learn before they become the finished article.
Liverpool have not been helped by injuries in midfield this term either, with the likes of Naby Keita, Fabinho and Thiago all missing matches thanks to fitness concerns. That may also explain why things have not been clicking in this area of the pitch at certain stages.
Still, there can be little doubt that Klopp's side have been more open since Wijnaldum left, with opponents not finding it much of a problem to cut through them during games, particularly in recent weeks.
Right now, Liverpool are largely getting away with it by outscoring teams, but they will need to tighten up at the back if they want to move ahead of Chelsea and City in the title race.
Therefore, it could be a good idea for them to bring in a more defensive-minded midfielder in January, who can perform the role that Wijnaldum did so well for years, to bring greater balance to the side for the second half of the season.
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