Adam Lallana faces tricky task to return to free-scoring Liverpool attack

Adam Lallana faces tricky task to return to free-scoring Liverpool attack

The Liverpool midfielder ended last season as a key man in Jurgen Klopp's side, but could return this time around as a bit-part player.

Oliver Emmerson

One of Jurgen Klopp's most impressive achievements as Liverpool manager was the marked transformation in Adam Lallana over the course of last season.

Having been largely underwhelming, bar the odd big moment (see Norwich City 4-5 Liverpool), since a move from Southampton in the summer of 2014, a new position and a new season saw Liverpool get the best out of Lallana.

With Philippe Coutinho occupying a wide-left position and Mohamed Salah still in Rome, there was room for Lallana as the furthers forward of Liverpool's midfield three, supplemented by two more defensively minded midfielders behind him.

With Coutinho on the left and Sadio Mane on the right, play-making pressures had been freed from Lallana, who would often burst into space created by the marauding Roberto Firmino, leading to eight goals in 31 league games, one less than he'd managed in his first two Liverpool seasons combined. 

Despite a drop in form after the turn of the year, Lallana was undoubtedly a key part of a thriving Liverpool attack that netted 78 league goals.

Unfortunately for Liverpool, Lallana has missed the majority of this campaign through injury.

Unfortunately for Lallana, Liverpool's attack has got better in his absence.

Lallana has lost his starting place

Mohamed Salah has added a new element, creating a 'Fab Four' alongside Mane, Coutinho and Firmino. 

The Reds have managed 33 league goals in their 15 games so far, putting them on track for 84 over the course of the season.

What's been even more devastating is their European form, setting a British record for most goals scored over a Champions League group stage, 23 in their six games.

Salah is in sensational form, the Premier League top scorer having already amassed 18 in a Red shirt over two competitions, three less than Lallana has in over three years.

They're different players of course and you can't compare the goalscoring records of a play-making midfielder to a ruthless attacker, but Salah has effectively replaced Lallana.

Coutinho now drops deeper, whether that be in Lallana's role in the 4-3-3 or on the left in a newly seen 4-4-2 variation from Klopp. He's not going anywhere.

Firmino has seen his form only improve when played in tandem with a goalscorer like Salah, he's assured - along with Mane - of keeping his place in Klopp's preferred XI. 

Lallana has been talked about as potentially playing in a midfield pivot alongside one of Emre Can, Georginio Wijnaldum or Jordan Henderson, but it's thought that those suggestions are much more commonplace on social media than in the Liverpool management offices.


Hope for Lallana, but for how long?

With Lallana on the way back from injury and set for playing time in the next few weeks, it'll be likely that we'll see him in some festive Liverpool line-up's, especially given the Reds' upcoming schedule of seven games in 22 days.

After that though, where does he turn? 

Injuries may crop up that offer a chance for Lallana to show his talents, but even then he's got Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain breathing over his shoulder after a good start to life at Anfield.

If the 4-4-2 variation the Reds have displayed against West Ham, Stoke and Spartak Moscow becomes a regular thing, Lallana's concerns may grow further. His best spells as a Liverpool player have come in a position that such a system doesn't utilise.

Football is a squad game of course, so to say Lallana is done as a Liverpool player would be ridiculous.

However, with the 29-year-old hoping to enter what will most probably be his last World Cup in some sort of form, what he's watching from the terraces may be as petrifying as it is entertaining.