Following the spectacular overhead kick that he scored in pre-season against Manchester United, there’s been little of note for the Swiss since. He has only come off the bench on the season opener at Anfield against West Ham and on Saturday at Leicester.
It’s no surprise that he has struggled to displace any of the terrifying trio up front – whilst Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mané and particularly Mo Salah have all had mixed starts to the season, they represent one of the finest strikeforces on the planet.
Displacing one of them was always going to be hard, but Shaqiri’s performance when he came on at the King Power Stadium was certainly very encouraging. In a game where possession seemed to be lost too easily, the versatile forward or midfielder came on with the game in the balance. He was able to get on the ball a lot and retain possession.
Klopp’s substitutions worked very well in that match, with Naby Keita also coming on to great effect. What I liked about Shaqiri in particular was how comfortable he was on the ball and how happy he was in tight spaces. He was showing for the ball and in particularly dropped into wide areas. He drew several fouls (which served to slow the game down) and ran the clock down well late into the game.
Having come on for Mo Salah, who was frankly out of sorts, Shaqiri stayed wide right and was very effective when he came on.
The game seemed to peter out after the substitutions as the Reds exercised a big element of control, and Shaqiri’s ability to hold onto the ball was a huge factor.
I saw enough in his performance to want to see a lot more. And with a massive run of games in a short period of time coming up, I expect that we will see the Swiss international get a lot more time on the pitch.
With the Champions League draw throwing up a taxing group and the Carabao Cup bringing a tough draw against Chelsea, Jürgen Klopp is going to have to start rotating his squad. As fit as they are, the front three are not going to be able to play every game unfortunately. Squad players such as Shaqiri, Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana are going to get more time on the pitch and I expect Fabinho will find his way in the match day squad sooner rather than later.
With an ability to rotate a lot more than last season, I expect to see wholesale changes for some matches. With such little margin for error in the Champions League group, I would expect to see a lot of changes coming up in league matches and this will benefit some players more than others.
Shaqiri has waited patiently for his chance and he was a key component on the blue tide being stemmed against Leicester. I would be more than happy to see him get some extended time on the pitch based on that performance.
With a game against Spurs at Wembley first up after the international break, I doubt that we will see many changes to a winning team. However, with what will be a high intensity game in the midweek against Paris St Germain, the team will likely need freshening up against Southampton just four days later.
And I would say that after his important and high quality appearance from the bench against Leicester, Xherdan Shaqiri is very well placed to be one of the first to benefit from when Jürgen Klopp decides that his winning team needs to be rotated for rigours of the tougher tasks ahead.