5 reasons behind the Liverpool’s New Year slump
It has been a miserable 2017 for Liverpool fans. In the space of a month, Jurgen Klopp’s side have seen their title hopes dashed, EFL Cup semi-final defeat to Southampton, FA Cup elimination to Wolverhampton Wanderers and their top four hopes in doubt after defeats to both Hull City and Swansea City.
Jurgen Klopp famously described Liverpool’s 3-0 victory over Manchester City last season with the word ‘BOOM’. However, this season the only thing to go boom is Liverpool’s season which appears to be going up in smoke. Cup defeats to Wolves and Southampton have only been hampered by poor domestic form which has seen Liverpool eclipse three points out of a possible fifteen.
So far in the New Year, Roberto Firmino had eclipsed more points on his driving license than what Liverpool have over their ten matches as their european hopes dangle by a thread with fourteen crunch matches remaining.
Where has it all gone wrong for Liverpool after a season which began so brightly? A team tipped for the title are now well off the pace and in wretched form. Liverpool need to get back to winning ways and you can buy your Liverpool tickets from www.ticketpad.ie.
The fast free-flowing football that made Liverpool the most exciting team to watch in the Premier League has avoided them of late and been replaced by a predictable, slow and sluggish style.
Here are five areas which will have given Klopp a new year headache and which he hopes he can solve as soon as possible:
Sadio Mane: When the winger left for the African Cup Of Nations with Cameroon, Liverpool were second in the table and in a healthy position despite drawing 2-2 at Sunderland after beating Manchester City less than 48 hours earlier. Liverpool were well and truly in the title race.
However, if one player has epitomised the Liverpool style of play this season it is Sadio Mane. In his absence Liverpool have been void of any pace, width and creativity from the flanks. Mane has been missed dearly and Liverpool have paid the price. The six games without him have proved how valuable he is to the team. Liverpool will be delighted to have him back and will hope he gives them the impetus to turn their fortunes around.
Fatigue: Despite no European commitments it is remarkable that Liverpool played ten matches in January. During this time it has become evident that the high pressing and physical demands that Klopp expects are taking their toll. The likes of Nathaniel Clyne, James Milner and Adam Lallana look in desperate need of a rest and have been hampered by niggling injuries in recent weeks.
Key players like Philippe Coutinho, Joel Matip and Jordan Henderson have been missing for most parts which has not helped their cause. Fringe players have had to step up and a change of system has been required with Klopp opting to go for three men in the middle of midfield which frankly, hasn’t worked.
Following their disappointing defeat to Hull City, Liverpool have only two more games in February against high-flying Tottenham Hotspur and then have a sixteen day break before travelling to Leicester City. There are no two ways about it, Liverpool need six points and a much needed rest could benefit them.
Confidence: Liverpool’s confidence has taken a battering in 2017. They are out of the title race, out of the EFL Cup and humiliated in the FA Cup in the space of a week. Fans are becoming disgruntled as their top four credentials threaten to evade them also.
Emre Can, DivockOrigi and Loris Karius are three players who look totally void of confidence and right now, the shirt is wearing heavy on the shoulders of these young players.
Despite only winning one in ten, a bigger worry for Klopp is they have only scored six goals in their last nine games which has taken its toll on the likes of Origi and Daniel Sturridge.
It has been something of a rollercoaster for Reds fans. They regained some much needed confidence after a spirited draw against leaders Chelsea to stem the tide after three straight defeats. However, defeat to Hull sent them crashing back down to Earth with a bump.
Squad: In order for Liverpool to be considered genuine title contenders it has been highlighted that they need to strengthen their overall squad. Despite spending money in the summer, the club still lack any real strength in depth. Players like Daniel Sturridge, DivockOrigi and Emre Can have needed to step up when Coutinho, Adam Lallana and SadioMané were absent and they failed to do so.
Liverpool had the opportunity to invest during the January transfer window but failed to do any business, despite knowing they had no short-term replacement for Sadio Mane. Whether failing to add to squad in January will prove to be a costly mistake remains to be seen.
Klopp has put his trust in his young inexperienced backups like Trent Alexander-Arnold, OvieEjaria and Ben Woodburn who have little Premier League experience between them when it comes to the business end of the season.
Tactics: Teams have now adapted to Liverpool’s style of play and as a result, Liverpool lack an alternative. Against the top teams Liverpool have been fantastic and no team has picked up more points against the top six sides than Liverpool this season. However, it is against the so called, lesser opposition, the Reds have struggled.
Opponents are terrified of the gegenpress that they’re making sure it can’t happen by defending with ten men behind the ball, staying narrow and compact in order to force Liverpool wide and starve the creative players like Coutinho, Lallana from driving through the middle where they are most dangerous.
Plymouth, Southampton, Wolves, Swansea and Hull have all defended deep, frustrated Liverpool and caught them on the counter attack. Klopp needs to regather his troops and go back to the drawing board starting with a crunch match against Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on Saturday 11th February.
The Reds only have two more matches to comprehend in February and it is imperative that they win both of them in order to regain some much needed confidence and get their season back on track.