Liverpool’s unbeaten run came to a frustrating end on Monday night in Wales, with Klopp’s side suffering a 1-0 loss to Swansea. It was a thoroughly subdued display for The Reds as all the positivity from the 18-game run was undone in just 90 minutes as Liverpool failed to capitalise on Tottenham’s draw over the weekend.
Here are the observations from the match.
Double-decker bus frustrations end unbeaten run
Liverpool have long since struggled against low-block defences. Even with Coutinho’s creativity and verve in the side, on more than one occasion Klopp’s team have dominated the ball only to fall short in the final third. It was a similar story here, emphasised by the Brazilian’s absence.
With 72% of the ball and 21 shots on target, Liverpool never truly looked as though they were going to threaten Lukasz Fabianski. The game unfolded in a hugely frustrating manner, with a lack of guile and unpredictability in the final third allowing Swansea’s double-decker bus to remain relatively comfortable.
Lack of depth on the bench confirms Liverpool’s need to spend
Having sold Coutinho to Barcelona for £142million, Liverpool have become increasingly reliant on the remainders of the ‘Fab Four’ in Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mo Salah. Take away those three though, and the depth in options is a real worry. Oxlade-Chamberlain can operate out wide but a central position gets far more out of him, while both Dominic Solanke and Danny Ings represent a huge step down in quality for Klopp’s side.
Adam Lallana looked to make things happen when he came on the field, but Solanke has yet to net his first Premier League goal for The Reds while Danny Ings is still rehabilitating from a long lay off. To turn to a player with such little game time to his name isn’t good enough for a club that have over £100m sitting in the bank.
Thomas Lemar, Nabil Fekir and Riyad Mahrez are three players that have been touted for a move to Merseyside and Liverpool must ensure they splash out on someone in order to retain the momentum they’d build up prior to Monday’s frustrating defeat.
Van Dijk can’t single-handedly solve all the issues
Making his Premier League bow for Liverpool against The Swans, many would’ve hoped the game would pan out as well as his debut against Everton in the FA Cup, where a late towering header saw Klopp’s side send their local rivals crashing out in stunning fashion. Yet, this game took a different turn for the Dutchman.
Failing to show his usual composure in possession, Van Dijk needlessly cleared the ball out for consecutive Swansea corners, with the second resulting in the home side’s goal. Alfie Mawson was allowed to wriggle free and sneak in on goal after the 26-year-old failed to deal with the set play. Prior to that, Van Dijk missed a great opportunity at the other end to head Liverpool into the lead in a far more frustrating evening for The Reds.
Conceding another needless goal from a set-piece underlined that the club’s frailties at the back won’t all disappear with the arrival of the Dutchman, at least not yet. His presence will undoubtedly bring solidity to the back-four but there’s still some work to be done before all the pieces fall into place.
Big chance missed for Jurgen’s Reds
Prior to kick-off, a Liverpool win would’ve seen the gap over Spurs extended to five points, providing some welcome breathing room in the race for a top-four finish. A 50 point tally would have also ensured The Reds ended Monday level on points with Chelsea in third.
Thus, the 1-0 defeat represents a huge chance missed for Klopp’s side, providing the worst possible end to what had been a thoroughly impressive unbeaten run. Having beaten the Premier League leaders in such style, a lacklustre display in Wales presented the two sides of this Liverpool side.