Liverpool must avoid playing Naby Keita and Adam Lallana in the same midfield, says John Aldridge, with the pair having shown that they are “not up to the job for a title-winning team”.
Jurgen Klopp shuffled his pack on Monday night for the trip to West Ham in the Premier League.
He saw his side take the lead at the London Stadium through Sadio Mane, but Michail Antonio restored parity in another 1-1 draw for the Reds.
That result opened the door to Manchester City, with Pep Guardiola’s side moving to the top of the Premier League table on Wednesday with a 2-0 victory over Everton.
Liverpool must now plot a response and a former frontman has urged them to favour other options in midfield after seeing two inconsistent performers fluff their lines on their latest audition.
Aldridge told the Irish Independent: “Klopp’s side dropped more points at West Ham, but a bigger issue for me in both games has been the performance or lack of it from Liverpool’s midfielders.
“[Mohamed] Salah, Mane and [Roberto] Firmino will give you a cutting edge if the balance of the team is right, but the players sitting behind them at West Ham failed to produce the goods and it cost Liverpool.
“I know Klopp was forced into changes due to injuries, but Adam Lallana and Naby Keita cannot play together in midfield again, as they are just not up to the job for a title-winning team.
“My first impressions of Lallana when he came to Liverpool were not positive and while he proved me wrong to an extent with some good performances before his recent injury problems, it looks like he is struggling to get back to those levels once again after so long in the treatment room.
“As for Keita, he has not settled at Liverpool and has failed to deliver the performances we were expecting from him, with Klopp and his coaching staff fighting to get him up to speed and still waiting to see if he will be good enough to play in this team.”
Lallana has been ravaged by fitness issues in recent times, with a string of injury problems restricting him to 15 appearances last season and 11 in the current campaign.
Keita has been handed 23 outings across all competitions, but has made only 11 Premier League starts and is yet to justify the £52.75 million ($68m) transfer fee that was required to secure his services from RB Leipzig.