An eventful afternoon at Anfield saw a number of talking points emerge, with Liverpool’s 2-2 draw with Sunderland overshadowed by a mass exodus of protesting supporters.
The fans’ protests against the rise in ticket prices dominated the feeling around Anfield, as Liverpool failed to hold on to a two-goal lead against a poor Sunderland side.
With Jurgen Klopp in hospital having his appendix removed, first-team duties were left to his assistants and coaching staff.
Their handling of the day was much better than Simon Mignolet‘s, which is one of the five talking points discussed below.
Football Without Fans Is Nothing
The Kop waved black flags while the Centenary Stand displayed a banner bearing the words “enough is enough.”
Another banner in the Main Stand read “football without fans is nothing,” but the main protest came on the 77th minute when a considerable number of fans left the ground.
This was all a result of the announcement that the most expensive ticket in Anfield would rise from £59 to £77 in the new Main Stand, as of next season.
On top of this fans will now have to fork out over £1000 for a season ticket in certain areas of the ground.
This situation was exacerbated when it was discovered that a section on Fenway Sports Management’s website contained the phrase “turning fans into consumers” when discussing Liverpool and Anfield.
This was quickly altered to say “turning consumers into fans”, but the screenshots had already been taken, and the damage was already done.
Today was the fans’ chance to respond, and they did so with their feet. A rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone rang out around the ground on the 76th minute, before a mass walkout ensued, as planned, when the clock reached 77 minutes.
Plenty of fans remained in the ground, but there were enough bare red seats to make a strong point to those in charge.
Was it a coincidence that the two Sunderland goals came after the walkout?
Buvac to Front in Klopp’s Absence
With Klopp absent, first-team duties on the touchline fell to Liverpool’s Bosnian-Serb assistant Zeljko Buvac, who stood on the edge of the technical area for much of the game.
Pepijn Lijnders was heavily involved in the pre-match training, as is usually the case, but he also stepped up to speak to the press after the game.
The Dutchman handled the press conference well, going into great detail about certain situations of the game rather than giving a vague overview of the events.
He even commented on the supporter protest, saying that “if they want to make a statement, they have the right to make a statement.”
In Buvac, Lijnders and Co., Liverpool are in safe hands.
Injury Problems Continue
The Reds lost both Dejan Lovren and Joe Allen to injury during the first 45-minutes as their injury woes show no sign of letting up.
Lovren lasted just over 10 minutes before being replaced by Kolo Toure, while Allen departed in first-half injury time, being replaced by Jordon Ibe.
The injuries mean that the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Martin Skrtel could be brought back into the side before being fully match-fit, and this situation can always lead to further injuries.
Liverpool Still Lack Quality in Key Areas
Injuries or no injuries, this group of players should be performing better than they currently are. Their position of 8th in the table with a goal difference of -4 says everything about their displays this season. The fact they’re behind Everton just rubs salt in the wound.
At the back, the defence looks just a shaky as it did under Brendan Rodgers, and the protection in front of them remains poor to non-existent.
Simon Mignolet‘s attempt to save Adam Johnson’s free kick, plus the poor positioning of his wall, did nothing to enhance the idea that he’s good enough to be Liverpool’s long-term No. 1 between the posts.
Any credit he had earned during his display at Leicester City in the week was lost this afternoon.
Five in Five for Firmino the Striker
While £32 million striker Christian Benteke sits on the bench following some unconvincing displays on the occasions he’s been given a chance, Brazilian attacker Roberto Firmino now has five goals in his last five league games.
He opened the scoring today with a header from James Milner‘s cross, showing great movement and anticipation to get on the end of the excellent ball from the inconsistent Englishman.
More impressive than his goal, however, was his assist for Adam Lallana. He closed down Billy Jones, winning the ball off him before driving into the box and squaring for Lallana to finish.
Firmino was the one positive on a troubling afternoon for the team, and the fans.
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