Since signing Virgil Van Dijk and Alison, Liverpool has hardly struggled under Jurgen Klopp. The two were said to be the final piece in the jigsaw for Liverpool. The Reds then went on to win the Champions League and the Premier League as well.
At that time Liverpool looked unstoppable. Even this season as well, they were expected to challenge for the Premier League title.
However, the story for Liverpool has been nothing like that. Liverpool is not even close to challenging for the title rather there are doubts whether they will even finish in the top four.
Currently, Liverpool is 8th in the table with 43 points, though they have a game in hand. But the question that arises is how did it come this? From title challengers to hopeful top four finishers.
Here are Four reasons for Liverpool poor run of form in this season:
Jurgen Klopp’s heavy metal football was relatively new to English football. Klopp heavily relied upon his team’s intensity to press the opponents. It was often seen that Liverpool did very well in the first half of the season but then they declined. A drop in intensity could also be seen in Liverpool in Klopp’s early years.
It is no for the first time under Klopp they are facing such injury issues. Even in 2016, Liverpool faced similar injury crises. Klopp’s high-intensity style of football was blamed for so many injuries at Liverpool. Not only this in recent years, but the German has also been hesitant in rotating his squad as well.
Liverpool often played with the same set of players. While remarkably they managed to keep the same level of intensity week in week out. However in the long run this tends to wear out the players and fatigue sets in. Perhaps Liverpool is now again paying the price of Klopp’s high-intensity football.
2. The cracks of last season
In truth cracks within Liverpool started to appear last season only. However, due to their individual brilliance, they managed to win games. In football sometimes teams win games because of their sheer brilliance. That is they manage to outperform their opponents.
However, there are times when teams do game management. That is let say they get two early goals through a piece, then they prefer to defend throughout the game. Or they could be times when they are looking for a goal by just hook or crook.
There have been times Liverpool regularly did that. Liverpool did the same two seasons ago and last season as well. It started when in the 2018/19 season they managed to get a late equalizer against Chelsea. Then Liverpool lost to Manchester City, narrowly managed a victory over Crystal Palace in a 4-3 win. Liverpool needed late winners against Fulham, Tottenham, Southampton, and Newcastle.
In the next season, they were unable to finish the games against Manchester City and Chelsea, as these two games went to penalties. Liverpool again needed late goals against Leicester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, Crystal Palace, and West Ham. In the games against Chelsea, they scored two goals from set-pieces at Stamford Bridge. While at Anfield as well Chelsea also managed a comeback.
This season both Leeds and Aston Villa managed to score goals in big numbers even with Van Dijk and Allison. The issue is when a team is constantly just managing games, it shows that there are deeper issues at the club. It is possible that perhaps due to the intensity problems Liverpool just doing game management in so many games.
3. Predictable way of scoring goals
Often teams have a way of scoring goals. Some teams like Manchester City prefer to play attacking football. While some like Manchester United rely upon counter-attacking football. Liverpool preferred to create chances by giving more space to their full-backs. Both Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander Arnold delivered excellent crosses inside the box.
For Liverpool, it was a way of dealing with Coutinho’s exit. The Brazilian was the creative force for Liverpool. However, Klopp decided not to replace him. Instead for Liverpool, the work of creating chances was given to their full-backs.
For some time it worked. However again in the long run teams figured out how to deal with them. Pep Guardiola often changes the way his teams attack, this is because teams in Premier League figure out how to deal with it. Even in the 2018/19 season, this could be seen when Arsenal visited Anfield.
Unai Emery set up his team to invite crosses from Liverpool’s fullbacks. They would use their aerial superiority and then look to play their quick players like Aubameyang and Pepe in space. Liverpool only managed to open the deadlock from a corner kick.
Despite all the above-mentioned problems, Liverpool could always rely upon their top players. Even this season, when things have been bad for Liverpool, Mo Salah has managed to score 25 goals in all competitions.
Liverpool are also in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. But this season they have sorely missed their players due to injuries. Any club in world football would have struggled with such injuries.
Liverpool lost Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, and Jordan Henderson for the whole season. Then Mo Salah and Sadio Mane missed a few games due to COVID19. Liverpool’s Brazilian duo of Allison and Fabiano also missed a few games due to injuries. Trent Alexander Arnold and Andy Robertson were also out for a few games due to injuries. New signing Diogo Jota suffered a long-term injury.
Thiago never really managed to settle in the first team. Initially, he tested positive for the coronavirus and then suffered injuries. The Spaniard was signed to add more creativity to the midfield. However, it is argued that he is unable to adjust to the Premier League because of the high intensity at which Liverpool prefers to play. While usually reliable Sadio Mane hasn’t been firing. Origi and Frimino are not reliable goalscorers.