Swansea, bottom of the Premier League at kick-off, rocked up at Anfield, where we have been unbeaten at all season, and took all three points. Those aren’t the words I expected to be writing a few hours ago, and especially not after seeing the line-up.
Philippe Coutinho returned and Roberto Firmino was restored to a role he had flourished in earlier this season. The destructive duo were up against a team who had conceded 49 goals already. It was supposed to be a match made in heaven.
It could have been.
But Liverpool made it so difficult for themselves, like they regularly do, and the team as a whole just forgot how to defend. It cost us three vital points. If Chelsea beat Hull City we could host them at Anfield with a 10 point difference to make up. To make matters worse, if Manchester City and Arsenal win this weekend we could be fourth courtesy of goal difference and just the two points above sixth-placed Manchester United.
There’s no room for slip-ups right now and we’ve done just that.
Negligence not to make signings
Sadio Mane’s participation in the AFCON isn’t a surprise. We’ve known about it since he signed yet we made no contingency plans for his absence, and it’s cost us. Instead, we’ve just reverted back to a system which was flawed last season with Adam Lallana operating in an attacking-midfield role and not in the box-to-box one he’s excelled in. Why make do when there’s money to spend? Why use players who ‘can do a job’ in a role when there’s a title challenge on the cards? Why not just bring in one or two reinforcements to give the squad a boost?
It doesn’t matter than Mane will be back in a few weeks. If he picks up an injury we’re right back in this situation again with absolutely no alternative to him.
In the top 10, only three teams have conceded more goals than Klopp’s men. To say there aren’t defensive issues would be lying. Two of the three goals today are preventable and a top team doesn’t concede them. Llorente’s second is the only one you can go “yeah, fair enough” because it was a monstrosity of a header. If you’re being highly critical, which we are as Liverpool fans, that ball should never be getting into the area with such ease. But, it comes back to the age old question: are Klavan, Lovren and Lucas really consistent enough for a team with title aspirations?
No Composure and No Balance
While there needs to be some urgency in the play when you’re chasing a game, there also needs to be some intelligence on show. Just hiking the ball up isn’t going to benefit the team and it’s playing into the hands of the opposition. Yet we did it time and time again. It was brainless and showed we had no plan and no idea what to do. Klopp chucked on Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge and it all looked desperate. More attackers doesn’t mean more chances to score.
Who would’ve guessed it, eh?
The Brazilian was back in a number nine position and he looked back to his best. He was comfortably the best Liverpool player on show today and made things happen. His second was an absolute worldie and he didn’t deserve to be on the losing side.