Advancements in sports science and the increasing reliance upon analytical data in football provides many arguments for professional footballers to ensure they have sufficient recovery periods between matches.
Hence, the debate about the problems with the Europa League and how we’ve seen Spurs – despite their manager’s absurd insistence that it isn’t the case – look tired and leggy after Europa League excursions, suffering two League defeats in a row.
Earlier in the season, Liverpool suffered Premier League defeats to Man United, Arsenal and Tottenham following just two days between games. Those defeats may be somewhat expected regardless of time between games given other footballing reasons.
While the debate over fitness and sports science may continue, it’s generally agreed that preparation from a coaching point of view is of benefit to a team ahead of a game.
However, a growing and worrying trend has developed at Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers that has seen them suffer disappointing defeats to teams they would expect to beat when they have had adequate preparation time.
Their most disappointing defeats this season – at home to Aston Villa and West Brom, and away to Oldham in the FA Cup and Southampton this weekend – have all arrived after the team have had a full week to prepare for the game.
This is a very worrying trend. After the win over Spurs last week Liverpool supporters went into Saturday’s game with Southampton half expecting the pattern of building some momentum, only to throw it away in a game you wouldn’t expect us to be losing. The defeat wasn’t a surprise, and that is what is most disappointing.
The reasons for this trend of poor performance after a week to prepare for a game could be due to two things – players’ attitude, or coaching. Either way, it’s a huge concern and something that Brendan Rodgers and his coaching staff need to address promptly.