When you think of Liverpool, you think of high, intense, attacking football. But so far this season, the Reds have struggled. Recently, manager Jürgen Klopp admitted that Liverpool could no longer challenge for the league this season. It goes to show just how far Liverpool have fallen off the mark. From poor form to injuries, these are the main reasons why Liverpool has failed to live up to expectations this season.
“Liverpool is one nil behind”
This is a phrase we have heard a lot recently. It was one that seemingly went under the radar last season but has since come to light. In the last six games at the end of the 2021/22 season, Liverpool conceded the first goal.
This season has been no different. The Reds have played 16 games thus far, and have gone behind nine times. They cannot seem to get going until they have gone behind. For a team like Liverpool, who is it difficult to string together a consistent run of good performances, going a goal down is an urgent issue that needs addressing.
Liverpool 2022/23: – Injuries, more injuries, and even more injuries
As much as a bad start to games has been a problem for Liverpool, they have equally been hit hard with an ever-growing long injury list. Key players like Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz, and Arthur Melo have all been ruled out until after the FIFA World Cup.
Thiago Alcantara, Ibrahima Konate, Darwin Núñez and Naby Keita are all nearing return dates. In the meantime, they are still unavailable for selection. The depth in the squad has been depleted by ravaging injuries in the short span of the season thus far. The medical staff at Merseyside just cannot seem to catch a break.
Lack of identity
It feels so weird saying this, but this campaign, it feels like this Liverpool side does not really know who they are. To be fair to the Reds, injuries have played a part in this. We are accustomed to seeing Liverpool play the 4-3-3 with three in midfield and three in attack.
However at times this season, Liverpool has gone to 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1, and even 4-2-2-2 repeatedly. It is glaringly obvious at this stage that Klopp is trying to fit his best players into a system that can accommodate them. Consequently, the results have proven otherwise. This change in formations has not as effective as he would have hoped it to be.
Fear factor missing
Over the years, Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp has transitioned from a counter-attacking entity to a non-stop attacking force. But recently, it looks like the mental edge Klopp used to instill, is gone. Nowadays, Liverpool is simply predictable. They often dominate possession with what is most times a lack of cutting edge. Fullbacks high up the field exposing the center backs, leaving them very vulnerable to the counter attack.
The point can be made that this is how Liverpool has always set up under their German coach. However, now it seems everyone knows this, and almost everyone has figured out a way of countering this. That is especially evident during away games.
Klopp’s Liverpool has clocked out
Fatigue. That is the word. Before saying this, the utmost respect must be given to the season Liverpool had in 2021/22. Out of 63 games available to them in all competitions, they played all 63. That set a record in the process. As things look right now, it feels like the hard yards put in last season have taken its toll on the team. Liverpool has been outrun in 70% of the matches played this season by the opposition. By looking at those numbers the stat is worrying.
Only, it is not just the physical fatigue. Mentally, they seem spent. Last season definitely cannot be termed a failure in any shape or form because it did end with two domestic trophies. Yet ultimately, the “bigger” ones, the ones we cannot help but feel they really wanted to win, were not won.
Liverpool was literally seven minutes away from winning the league on the final day of last season. That was before being pipped by eventual champions Manchester City. Moreover a Thibaut Courtois inspired Real Madrid did enough to see off the Merseyside outfit 1-0 in the Champions League final. This must have been very tough to take, and it does not look like they they recovered from all of this yet.
This season, Liverpool, has the highest average age of any starting 11 in the league with 29.4. The core of this team, players like Virgil Van Dijk, Mohammed Salah, Jordan Henderson, Joel Matip, Roberto Firmino, Thiago Alcantara, are all 30 years and over. Credit to the Reds though. There has been the introduction of a new breed of younger players such as Harvey Elliott, Fabio Carvalho and Darwin Núñez.
All signs indicate that this Liverpool side is rebuilding within their ranks. However, like all rebuilding processes, it takes a some time. Perhaps Liverpool does not have the right mix between old and new players as of yet. When they do, the stage could be set for another era of resurgence in pursuit of domestic and continental success.