Jordan Henderson is “the biggest miss” for Liverpool’s midfield when he is not available, says Danny Murphy, but Georginio Wijnaldum and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are also considered to have proven their worth.
The Reds have seen impressive units at opposing ends of the field dominate headlines during a period of welcome success for the Anfield outfit. Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have starred in the attacking third, while Alisson, Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold have become talismanic figures at the back.
Jurgen Klopp’s engine room is, however, just as important to the collective cause as those charged with the task of scoring and preventing goals.
Henderson is a key man in that area, as club captain, but Murphy says vital qualities are now shared by all of those whose job it is to make the Champions League winners and Premier League title hopefuls tick.
The former Reds star told the club’s official website: “I appreciate them all, to be honest, in terms of their ability to fit in. Very rarely do you watch Liverpool play and think, ‘Oh, they’re weaker today.
“Jordan is probably the one biggest miss when he doesn’t play, partly because of his leadership as well. I’m a big fan of Wijnaldum. He’s very good on the ball and in tight positions. Very, very often he is one of those players who wriggles out of a little tight situation and gets Liverpool on the front foot.
“The one thing more about that midfield I say when I talk about it is every single one of them – I call them ‘proper midfielders’ – does all the bits needed. They still go forward and press and try to get in the box. Ox is probably one of the best at it when he plays more often.
“But they all do their defensive work – they all track runners, they all fill space, they all spot danger. And I don’t think that Liverpool system would work if one of the three didn’t have the discipline to do that. They all know the job.”
Liverpool as a collective have savoured domestic, European and global success over the course of the last 12 months, with Murphy saying the progress made by Klopp off the field is as responsible for that as the efforts of a star-studded squad on it.
The ex-England international added: “I think the team has evolved from when Klopp first started. It has got a bit more wisdom in it, in terms of when to take your foot off the gas from pressing, when to see out a game, when to drop off sometimes. They are much more tactically aware.
"Yes, they are a high-press team with great energy and the fitness levels are unbelievable, and Klopp’s coaching staff and sports science team deserve great credit for that.
"But when people talk about Liverpool this season not hitting the heights of maybe last season or the one before in terms of sometimes steamrollering teams and loads of free-flowing football, it’s because they’re managing games better.
“It’s because they don’t necessarily, when they go a goal up away from home or two up, go all-out, 100 per cent press, hell for leather.
“I think the biggest thing with the Liverpool side at the moment is the hunger and the discipline.”