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RFNF BLOGGER: PREMIER LEAGUE - WHAT IS GOING WRONG FOR KLOPP AND LIVERPOOL?

Updated: Feb 10, 2021


Jurgen and his side are having a tough time lately, on and off the pitch. Here we take a look at a write up from one of our Liverpool bloggers who would like to vent his frustration, whilst offering us some possible reasons why things just aren't working right now at Anfield.


What is going wrong for Liverpool?


Liverpool for the last 2/3 years have arguably been the best team in the world, playing in stages some truly outstanding football and producing performances in Europe that will go down in folklore.

In that time they narrowly came second to City on what would have been record points any other season, won the club’s sixth champions league and finally got their hands on a league title that had eluded them for 30 years. Since Klopp took over in 2015 Liverpool have been on a steady incline, never looking like slowing down, so why now are things starting to go wrong?


Before this season even started managers were worried about player fatigue and fitness as they have had no real pre season, an unusually short break and a consistently hectic schedule to contend with, due the complications caused by covid. Everyone knew this season would be full of injuries for every club but Liverpool have been hit one of the hardest.


At the start of the season Klopp had 3 premiership quality centre backs at his disposal and knew Fabinho could drop into to defence as he had played there before for Monaco and Brazil. As it stands now, all 4 are injured with the main 3 out for the rest of the season which has played the biggest role in Liverpool’s recent decline.


Any club losing that many centre backs is going to struggle no matter what the club, or the standard your playing at, then take into the consideration of the quality of the players missing, all world class. Even if it was just Van Dijk, to not have the worlds best at the heart of your defence is going to be a huge loss, but then to lose the other 2! After losing Gomez as well, Liverpool limped along still producing results, mainly thanks to Fabinho truly exceeding expectations and either him or Matip (who can only seem to stay fit 2 weeks at a time) carrying Williams or Phillips through games. With respect to both of them are just not Premiership quality making simple mistakes you just wanted see from the rest.

After having no constant partnership which is needed in every title winning team, it has become a whoever’s fit, plays situation and the cracks are starting to appear.


The problem with dropping Fabinho in to defence is Liverpool miss him in midfield, as much as he is a Fantastic centre back he is an even better holding player, one of, if not the best in my opinion. He is phenomenal at breaking up play and out right stopping any counter attack, between him and Henderson they make it extremely hard for teams to get pass the midfield and both have such engines on them they are the heart of the high press Liverpool play. Liverpool rely on that energy.


Then having more injuries in the midfield with Thiago and the Ox out for the first half of the season, Milner, Henderson, Kieta, Jota and Shaqiri all having spells on the side-line, the midfield has been spread thin with only youngster Jones and Wijnaldum staying fit and consistent. Then Fabinho getting injured for spells has meant Henderson has had to drop back into the defence. Again he doing brilliant at that role, so much so Milner even joked that he will be there permanently, it means he presence is missed in the middle of the park. Now without the 2 main engines in the middle of the park, it feels like a diesel running with a broken turbo. With Van Dijk, Gomez, Fabinho and Henderson not in the spine of the team Liverpool have looked lacklustre, All the players who do the donkey work are gone and only left with the luxury players leaves the squad unbalanced. This also means Liverpool have not been able to rotate the squad as much as they would have liked and with the hectic schedule players have not been putting in the individual performances we have come expect, looking both physically and mentally drained ..... ironically causing more injuries.


The exhaustion in the squad is clear for all to see, Liverpool recently have played slow and unimaginative football (with the exception of 1 or 2 games) you don’t see Mane and Salah making as many runs, the quick passing and movement isn’t there and passes going astray that 2 months ago seemed like easy balls. The heavy metal football is now more of an acoustic indie classic. Even if they didn’t have this injury hit season and crazy schedule, i'm surprised it hasn’t happened sooner. The squad has played non stop for 3 years. I can’t really remember any of the front 3 or defence getting any rest, they only had the luxury of rotating the midfield. In two of them seasons went to the final of Europe which is a long gruelling task. Most of the team when you include international duty are having 65 game seasons, with a quick 3 week break and back at it. Since Van Dijk and Alison Liverpool have only really brought in fringe players.. until Thiago (who feels like a January signing), so the starting 11 has remained pretty much unchanged for a while now. These two factors have been a huge catalyst in clubs working out how to beat Liverpool.


Now with the lack of energy, no defensive partnership or commanding leader and Liverpool’s creativity stunted, the counter attack is now an option. Parking the bus and hoping for something on the break was never as effective before as Liverpool’s midfield would mop it up and the pressure would be straight back on, but that's no longer the case. Brighton executed this perfectly in their 1-0 win, with 11 men behind the ball, compact and narrow they managed to keep Liverpool at arms length the entire game, not letting them get a shot on target until midway through the second half. Brighton worked so hard keeping their shape and not letting Liverpool have any space in the final 3rd which nullified Liverpool's pace, not allowing runners in behind and didn’t allow them to get any rhythm in their passing.

What was sad to see as a fan is i felt Liverpool let them do it, they didn’t seem to have an answer for it, which a fully fit Liverpool team would never let happen. This takes away the fear of coming up against Liverpool. Before clubs would be scared coming to Anfield, not know how they were going to survive the blistering attacks of the front 3, how were they going to even get to the final 3rd, even if they did how would they get passed Van Dijk and on top of that you have to slot it passed Allison. Brighton had the exact opposite, a depleted Liverpool team without its core players... which thanks to the injuries had lost a lot of its height, so is now even more vulnerable from crosses and set pieces which Brighton used to full effect. This is why Liverpool have struggled against the bottom 6 and not the top 6.


There has been talk of Thiago coming into the team is partly to blame as he is slowing the game down to much. People questioning if he is the right fit for Liverpool? Personally I think this is ridiculous, he is an exceptional player and has actually impressed me since he has been fit. I thought he was a pure luxury player who was just a playmaker, but i've seen how good defensively he is, his positioning, the way he reads the game so well, doesn’t back down from a challenge and gets stuck in. I believe he is the man Liverpool need but he has been injured for a while and come back to a struggling side who are shattered, so he isn’t getting the movement to show off his passing. I can’t wait to see him next season when Liverpool are fully fit and rested.


Personally i think the title race is over for Liverpool and now its about staying in the top 4 and being in the Champions League next season. With the Arrival of Kabak in possibly one of the most incredible January deals ever, Liverpool have plugged part of the gap. I think after 2 or 3 games he will be introduced to the team and from then, it will be him and Fabinho as the main partnership in defence for the rest of the season.

Providing both can stay fit i think top 4 is still very much achievable. Hopefully all of Liverpool's bad luck has come already and we can push forward with no further injuries, and with players returning to the team like Jota who was prolific before his absence.


Having been spoiled with all the excitement since Klopp took charge 5 years ago, Liverpool can be forgiven for having an off period, but lets hope its just that, an off period and not an off season.


We move onto a massive game with City on Sunday!


 

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