The Reds are going through a complicated time in the Premier League and are struggling to regain their style that frightened the Kingdom.
“Our confidence is not at its highest level.” Following the defeat against Burnley (0-1, on January 21), Jürgen Klopp could not handle the understatement better as the Reds are sick during this 2020-21 exercise. Crowned with a title awaited for 30 years on the quays of the Mersey, the teammates of Mo Salah do not confirm the expectations that can be placed on the back of a champion. The Reds point to 24 points after 19 days of the Premier League. Six lengths behind Manchester United, the only leader in the English championship. More than the balance sheet, it is above all the state of mind and the current mismatch that are problematic. These are five games that Klopp’s men have not won in the Premier League. A crushing victory (0-7, December 19, 2020) on the lawn of Crystal Palace which begins to date at the time when the Reds move on the lawn of Tottenham (Thursday January 28, 9 p.m.). Obviously, trust, empathy, benefits too.
A well-stocked infirmary
Race, Pressing and high intensity were the key words of the scores which allowed Klopp and Liverpool to settle on the roof of Europe and that of England. There is no doubt that in a season as special as this one, the impact of the Covid-19 and the truncated preparation is felt in the workforce of the defending champions. The executives stick their tongues out so the effectiveness of the pressing is no longer the same as that which was the strength of Klopp’s Liverpool. “They deprive you of air,” said Dani Ceballos in August 2019 after the logical defeat of Arsenal at Anfield (3-1). But now, such a defensive system requires a great profusion of energy. Not easy to put in place when the workforce is decimated by injuries and the available players are slowing down physically. Van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Alexander-Arnold, Robertson… All the titular defenders have joined the infirmary since the start of the season. Jûrgen Klopp must then compose by aligning midfielders to protect Alisson’s goals, at the expense of the offensive animation.
An exposed defense
This loss of efficiency in pressing and recovery exposes the Reds to opposing counterattacks. “We had too many options in attack, and no protection. We lose the ball, and then there was a counter-attack, ”Klopp analyzed after the elimination of Liverpool on the lawn of Man United (2-3) this Sunday in the FA Cup. Likewise during the defeat against Burnley (0-1), on January 21. Strong defensively, the Clarets have shown solidarity and well organized to leave no space for Sadio Mané and others. Unable to punish on their rare occasions in the match, the Liverpool players suffered a counter at the very end of the game which led to the penalty converted by Ashley Barnes. This defeat, the first at home since April 2017, is representative of the Reds’ difficulties this season. Since the start of this year, Liverpool have conceded 22 goals in 19 games for an average of 1.15 per game, where they conceded only 0.86 last season and 0.57 the season before. Symptomatic.
An offensive famine
If Klopp had made the offensive aspect his trademark at Liverpool, the Reds seem to have lost their punch this season. With 37 achievements after 19 league days, the 2019 Champions League winners are a far cry from their 47 goals at the same stage last season. “We have always missed opportunities,” Klopp defended himself after the draw against United (0-0) on January 17. Correct, except that Liverpool version 2020-21 is particularly struggling to find the loophole. Evidenced by the number of consecutive games without scoring in the Premier League: three, the longest shortage of the Reds since March 2015. If Mohamed Salah occupies the first place in the scorers classification with 13 goals, the statistics of the Egyptian have allure of trees hiding a forest made up of wasted opportunities and less sharp offensives than they were in the past. The offensive individuals are no longer as efficient and Klopp must also do without his supersub at the start of the season with the injury of Diogo Jota since mid-December.