Jurgen Klopp's reluctance to rotate his squad for Liverpool's 2-2 draw at Sunderland on Monday perhaps hints at a lack of trust in his bench players. He'll have no hesitation in ringing the changes for this weekend's FA Cup clash with League Two Plymouth Argyle, but the Premier League appears to be a different story.
Rather than utilise his squad, Klopp started just a dozen players during the three games Liverpool had in a seven-day period. Selecting the same team for the home games with Stoke and Manchester City was fine as there was enough of a rest period between games, but making just one change for the trip to Sunderland less than 48 hours after his team had put in a massive effort to beat Pep Guardiola's City was puzzling.
With the transfer window now open and Liverpool well placed to mount a title challenge in the second half of the season, it would be prudent for Klopp to make one or two additions to his squad to provide more depth and competition for places. As well as the Reds have done so far, all it takes is a couple of injuries or suspensions to undermine all of the good work they've put in so far. Every point is vital from here on in, and the smallest of details can be decisive.
With Sadio Mane now out for several weeks due to his involvement in the African Nations Cup, the Reds could really use another wide attacker with the pace and trickery to trouble opposing defences. The impending return of Philippe Coutinho will help compensate for the loss of Mane, but Liverpool still look a little thin in that area. Roberto Firmino has proven to be more effective playing as a No. 9 than he is out wide, and although Adam Lallana is more than capable of playing on either flank, he's been so good in central midfield this year that moving him from that position is not a good idea.
Klopp has enough options that he can make do while Mane is away, but bringing in an exciting new attacker could invigorate everybody at the club and help Liverpool kick on and make a real charge for the title.
There are lessons to be learned from history. For example, the last time Liverpool were crowned Champions in 1990, they owed much to the contribution of a man who only arrived in March. Kenny Dalglish's side were not short of quality attackers, but the canny Scot brought in Ronny Rosenthal on loan from Standard Liege for the title run-in and the Israeli provided the spark that got Liverpool over the line, bagging seven goals in the final eight games of that season as Liverpool overhauled Aston Villa to secure their 18th league title.
The Reds have only had two serious title challenges since and, perhaps significantly, on both occasions they elected not to look for a Rosenthal type to help them get over the line and they came up just short both times.
In 2009 not only did Rafa Benitez not sign anybody to assist with a title challenge, he actually weakened his squad by offloading striker Robbie Keane. The Irishman had been unable to command a regular place due to the prolific partnership of Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard, but selling Keane and not replacing him left David Ngog and Ryan Babel as the main bench options. Crucial points were squandered in January and February, and although the team got on a roll in the spring, ultimately it was not enough to prevent Manchester United winning the title.
In 2014 the Reds were in title contention at the turn of the year but again failed to make any signings after a complicated deal for Yevhen Konoplyanka predictably failed to materialise. They'd also missed out on Mohamed Salah after dragging their heels and allowing Chelsea to beat them to the punch.
Scoring goals wasn't a problem for Liverpool during the run-in that year as they went on an incredible winning run that put them on the brink of the title, but in the two games where it all went wrong for them they were reduced to summoning Iago Aspas and Victor Moses from the bench when they needed inspiration.
Aspas came on against Chelsea with Liverpool trailing 1-0 but his only contribution was to take one of the worst corner kicks Anfield has ever seen. That was the day when the title was lost, but if Liverpool could have beaten Crystal Palace a few days later they would have at least put some pressure on Manchester City, not to mention given themselves an outside chance of winning the title on goal difference by hammering Newcastle on the last day.
The Palace game famously ended 3-3 after the Reds collapsed late on and blew a 3-0 lead, but what is often forgotten about that night is that even after being pegged back, Liverpool should still have won the game in stoppage time, only for Moses to blast over the bar from close range.
It's far too simplistic to say that not buying anybody in January was the reason Liverpool failed to win the title in 08-09 or 13-14, but their chances were certainly not enhanced by choosing to stick rather than twist. The right signing at the right time can make all the difference, just ask Dalglish, and hopefully Liverpool will be more aggressive in pursuing targets this month than they have been in recent years.