Why Liverpool Struggled Against Crystal Palace and Atalanta

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Liverpool’s Struggle: Slow Starts, Tired Legs, and Missed Chances

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are teetering on the edge, a stark contrast to their desired trajectory of once again reaching the pinnacle of the Premier League. After a string of disappointing performances, including a shocking defeat to Crystal Palace and a stalemate that felt like a loss at Old Trafford, the Reds find their campaign hanging by a thread. Here’s a dive into the factors that have derailed their season.

Fatigue Takes Its Toll

“It feels like a loss,” said Virgil van Dijk, reflecting the sentiment in the Liverpool camp after clawing back a draw against Manchester United with a late Mohamed Salah penalty. This game was a precursor to a disappointing run, culminating in a 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace and leaving their hopes of a fitting send-off for Klopp in tatters.

Liverpool’s relentless schedule seems to have finally caught up with them. “Did Wataru (Endo) and Macca (Alexis Mac Allister) now play a little bit too much in the last few weeks? Maybe,” Klopp admitted post the Crystal Palace match. The fatigue was evident, with key players unable to influence the game as they normally would, causing a significant dip in their dynamic play and pressing intensity.

Photo: IMAGO

Emotional Weight of Klopp’s Departure

The announcement of Klopp’s departure has not gone unnoticed within the squad, creating an undercurrent of uncertainty. While it initially spurred a positive response from the team, the emotional toll of the ongoing uncertainty has been palpable. Despite the internal assurances, the psychological burden of the transition phase is manifesting on the pitch, as seen in their lacklustre performances.

Persistent Issue of Slow Starts

Liverpool’s habit of conceding early has been a recurring theme, and it was no different against Crystal Palace. “Wow,” Klopp could only utter as Eberechi Eze gave Palace an early lead. This issue has plagued Liverpool throughout the season, seeing them concede first in a significant number of games, which disrupts their game plan and forces them into uncomfortable chases.

Ineffectual Finishing

Liverpool’s struggles in front of goal have been glaring. Across three critical matches against Manchester United, Atalanta, and Crystal Palace, they registered 68 shots and an expected goals tally of 9.08 but scored only twice. The finishing woes were highlighted against Palace, where despite an xG of 2.87, the team failed to convert any chances.

“We’ve spoken about that and we’ve said we can’t keep relying on our comebacks,” Andy Robertson acknowledged the unsustainable nature of their current approach. The need for a more clinical edge is evident as Liverpool seek to regain their form.

In conclusion, as Liverpool’s season hangs in the balance, the path ahead is fraught with challenges. Klopp and his team must address these persistent issues to salvage their campaign and give their manager the send-off he deserves. With only a handful of games left, it’s a race against time for the Reds to turn their fortunes around. The odds may be stacked against them, but the fight continues.

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