What’s wrong with Liverpool?

We’ve all been used to winning and winning comfortably over the past three years.

This Liverpool team have been at the peak of their powers since almost All the time. Nothing, it seemed, could go wrong.

But as elite-level sport teaches you, a champion’s rivals always respond with a mission to bring you down. And defending a title really doesn’t help when your team suffers serious and significant injuries. It is not an excuse, it is a fact.

Absentees are a huge reason for Liverpool’s current demise. Among them are some of Liverpool’s main leaders, players able to score a ramshackle goal to open a game or nail a set piece to break a deadlock, forcing opponents to come out and play. These spaces no longer appear as opponents are forced to chase matches and this amplifies Liverpool’s minor shortcomings.

Jurgen klopp
Jurgen Klopp faced challenges like never before | Marc Atkins / Getty Images

The low block

Although the Liverpool players are on “vacation” waiting for the inevitable to be crowned champions after Restarting the project, it was clear that the rest of the league was lucky enough to get a good look at Jurgen Klopp’s squad.

It is clear that Liverpool are facing a lower block this year – in which the teams sit deeper and allow Liverpool more low value shots from outside the box – and although the man-to-man system Marcelo Bielsa’s man be easy to watch, that was never Liverpool’s counter-strength philosophy when Leeds traveled to Anfield on the opening weekend of the season. In an open game, top quality usually comes through, and that’s what happened that day.

The teams now, especially at Anfield, have denied Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane space to collide, and when they do meet every now and then the opposing keeper usually cuts him off. Compact defenses are set up to receive balls into the box, and even delivery from Liverpool full-backs looks so predictable.

Mohamed Salah, Josh Brownhill
Salah et co. operate in smaller spaces | Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

Liverpool lack players who can break a deadlock with a long-range howler as it is, that’s not how they play. They don’t have a Philippe Coutinho anymore – maybe Klopp could say that Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could fill that void, but how many times have we seen the little magician open a game with a wonderful strike?

Ox and Keita have both shown good form, but they can’t avoid long, insignificant injuries to have a real impact on the squad – so Klopp has been forced to play his more conservative players in midfield. The emergence of Curtis Jones helped, but most young players need to be protected as the drops in form are more consistent than seasoned pros.

Sit well, sit deep

Teams are following the new blueprint: sit deep, stay compact, and when the ball comes loose, counterattack to the beat.

It is clear that Liverpool are not playing with the same intensity as in previous years. The first three, which are the main components of the high press, do not exert the same amount of energy as they once did, and Liverpool is suffering as a result. We saw Brighton sidestep an already weakened press earlier this week by offering more options to escape, and it worked for them. You expect us to continue to see this in the future.

Work the angle

This is where Klopp needs to adapt his 100km / h football philosophy, and perhaps take a roadmap from Pep Guardiola’s school of thought. The third goal in the recent win over West Ham was a perfect example of Liverpool’s ability to play small triangles and work the angle – and when they do, the attack picks up pace and they fall behind via the canals.

This style of play requires Roberto Firmino on his game; the catalyst for our offense that we love to hit the halfway line and play. When he’s not on it and you’re chasing a game, you need a few others who are comfortable playing back-to-goal – it begs the question of whether it was really wise to send Takumi Minamino to loan to Southampton.

Roberto Firmino, Takumi Minamino, Ollie Watkins
It was surprising to see Minamino leave on loan | Pool / Getty Images

His form has been sporadic to say the least, but he occupies spaces where the center-backs hesitate to follow, and if they do, Taki inadvertently creates space for the others. Only time will tell if Klopp’s decision was the right one, but it’s fair to say that he could have been useful in a 4-2-3-1 formation – even if it meant making an impact from the bench.

Liverpool fans are hopeful Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain can stay fit and healthy for the second half of the season, and although they are not in the same mold as what you would call a traditional ‘number 10’ , they possess the ability to break lines and run late runs from midfield.

The blow to the counter-press

The extraordinary misfortune of the injuries severely affected the team’s spine.

Mikel Arteta, who recently spoke about Liverpool’s ability to beat the press, said: “We tried to put as much pressure on them as possible, but (Virgil) van Dijk is playing 60 yard passes to Salah and they are eliminated. ”

Virgil van Dijk, Jurgen Klopp
Van Dijk’s absence was immeasurable | Catherine Ivill / Getty Images

Van Dijk is a Rolls Royce, and his pass to the broad men is a serious weapon that Liverpool have lost. Many opposing fans have foolishly labeled him as a “long ball,” but it’s so much more than that – it’s a skill no one else has. The void left in the defensive areas has meant Liverpool midfielder generals Fabinho and Jordan Henderson have found themselves in the center half. It affected Klopp’s counterpress.

Klopp asks his side to squeeze the opposition at the top of the pitch, block passing lanes, win the ball and mount quick counter attacks – no one does better than Fabinho & Henderson.

Liverpool’s game involves their full-backs bombarding forward in tandem, but the loss of recovery pace and the inability to defend in individual situations without the regulars has forced Klopp to brake to some extent. In many matches this season you have seen Trent Alexander-Arnold not do overlapping races as he has been asked to be able to counter the press and protect Liverpool’s fragility.

Team selection and decision making

Jurgen Klopp is human and will make mistakes, but some of his appeals need serious consideration. In a season where we’ve seen Klopp’s top three forwards go through a poor form pass together, Diogo Jota’s introduction was a player he could count on to take the pressure off failed forwards. But his decision to play Jota in a dead rubber match really came back to haunt him.

This was at a time when Klopp was publicly voicing concerns about the need for five substitutes in order to protect the players. Some would say the Portuguese were always knocking on the door to cement a starting place in the squad and Klopp was right to play him back then, but Jota was so in Klopp’s head that he forced his hand playing a 4-2-4 against Manchester City away from home.

He immediately became an instrumental figure in the team and Klopp, although he might not admit it, must deeply regret his decision. Jota was exactly what Liverpool needed at the moment.

Diogo Jota
Jota got off to a great start at Liverpool… then got injured in a game he didn’t really need to play | Alex Livesey – Danehouse / Getty Images

A versatile player on the front line, a player who is comfortable receiving the ball in restricted areas, who can run behind and give playmakers movement, and above all has the rare talent of being in the right place at the right time.

The manager went for a diamond against Spurs and it seemed to work, but oddly changed to a different lineup against Brighton. It wasn’t too much about training either, but more of staff in certain positions – Milner and Shaqiri were never going to provide the breadth to the left or the level of skill required to upset Brighton.

Now Klopp faces a dilemma: when should he bring in the new signings? The call could be crucial in deciding whether Liverpool need to find their midfield mojo. Thiago has had to deliver something different and has been criticized so far. Is he slowing down Liverpool? Is it more suited to the Tika-Taka style of play? It is obvious that players in Thiago’s class can adapt to different principles but he needs time further down the pitch. I’m sure he will deliver the magic when he has the right protection behind him.

Thiago Alcantara, Kevin Friend
Thiago has yet to win an Anfield game he has played | Pool / Getty Images

So where does that leave Liverpool?

Liverpool may need to reassess their ambition for this season.

Anfield must become a fortress again. They’ll have no problem playing against teams that are ready to face them, but nights like Wednesday are getting far too frequent. Players coming back from layoffs will inevitably make them stronger, but Klopp must find a solution to break the bus.

Teams find it too easy to stifle the attacks that Liverpool built, but they haven’t become a bad team overnight, and all the great teams are coming back and finding a way. Jurgen Klopp is a world class manager and with a few adjustments he and Liverpool will be back.