Guest Post By Karl Matchett


Two games into the Jurgen Klopp reign at Liverpool, Adam Lallana has been one of the players counted upon to feature heavily and in a pivotal role as the new manager seeks to transform both style and consistency of the team.


Starting against Tottenham and Rubin Kazan in a withdrawn, right channel role to support the main striker and be an outlet for the midfield, Lallana has been very involved in receiving possession quickly and charged with being both a conduit and a creator. With injuries robbing Klopp of his main forwards, offensive-minded midfielders have been relied upon throughout both 90 minutes, without huge success so far.


Lallana, at his best, is a great technical talent. His first touch is immaculate and he is able to turn his body in tune with the flight of the ball, evading a defender even as he takes possession and moves in a new direction. At his worst, though, or rather his most frustrating, he then follows up that sublime control with another four, five or more touches, when perhaps only one would be enough.


The last 20 minutes or so against Rubin Kazan highlighted both Lallana's tendencies and his deficiencies in this Liverpool side; as the team switched to a diamond midfield with the Englishman at the tip, he
needed to either receive possession and immediately move it on to force the Russian side's defence to move around and be opened up, or else bombard his way through the centre to break the lines and get shots away.


He did neither, instead opting to run across the area in possession, switch play wide after twisting and turning back on himself and try to make diagonal passing opportunities in the channels of the penalty area. Systematically he didn't quite fit, and technically he made it easy for the 10 visiting men on the pitch to close him out.


It's not Lallana's fault that this is how he plays, of course, but in attempting to move toward a much faster style of play in recycling possession from deep and transitioning back into the final third, he presents a conundrum.


Lots saw his performance against Kazan as being largely good. Others saw the direct opposite. The truth is likely that because he was heavily involved, receiving play with great frequency, he looked as if he was integral to the team's performance. When he lost possession or squandered the chance to open up the defence, the other viewpoint emerged-and because he took possession regularly, that latter outcome was oft repeated.


His work rate and willingness to press the game, make runs off the ball and always be confident in taking possession to feet means he'll probably continue to get a run of games under Klopp as he assesses his squad in full. Lallana will also be pleased to have played the full 90 minutes in Europe, usually being one of those withdrawn as his energy levels at times appear to quickly drop in the second half.


Ultimately, decisiveness and consistency in the final third will determine whether Lallana (or any other attacker, for that matter) plays a long-term part in Klopp's Liverpool revival, but he needs to make fundamental changes to his game if that is going to be the case.


The technical prowess he possesses is as imperative as it is impressive for an attacking midfielder, but the decision making process of what to actually do once in possession needs to become far more streamlined in Lallana's case. At 27 years of age now, is that shift in approach going to come easily? Or at all?


A home match against Southampton at the weekend might reveal much about Klopp's early assessment of the players. Roberto Firmino and Christian Benteke both made comebacks from injury against Kazan and Daniel Sturridge should be in contention too. With a two-man strikeforce now a distinct possibility for Liverpool, will the
diamond remain in place? Or will Klopp opt to flatten out the midfield and play without a recognised central-based creative option for the first time?


Lallana has shown during his time at Liverpool that he is composed and can score goals as well as create, but he hasn't done either anywhere near as much as he should.


His clash of personal style of play against the full-throttle, perpetual movement that Klopp wants to bring in could seem to offer an unpredictability factor, a positive variation on the team's attacking play-but that's only once the rest of the side is functioning in tandem. Right now, he's a continual frustration when he majestically opens a gap between opposition defensive lines, only to immediately slow down the build up play by not making his final pass at the right moment.


In Lallana remains a continual promise, which lingers just the wrong side of the love/hate divide for many fans to want him in the side more regularly, but close enough to it to keep others hoping that soon, eventually, surely, Lallana's quality will pay dividends on a weekly basis.