What’s gone wrong for Liverpool? – The view from rival Premier League fans

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Liverpool supporters are well aware of the Reds’ current woes, but where do fans of some other Premier League clubs think the issues lie?

Jurgen Klopp‘s side look a long way from the team that cruised to title glory last season, not to mention winning the Champions League the previous year.

Sunday’s 4-1 defeat at home to Man City was the lowest moment yet in 2020/21, as Liverpool’s hopes of retaining the title were effectively ended.

The question is: what has gone so wrong for the champions this season? Is it injuries, form, fatigue or something more deep-rooted?

We got in touch with a number of fans and writers from other Premier League teams to get their thoughts on the matter – here’s what they had to say.

 

“Nothing has fallen for the Reds…”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 7, 2021: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker looks dejected as Manchester City score the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at Anfield. Manchester City won 4-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

KADEEM SIMMONDS (@KadeemSimmonds) – MAN UNITED

There’s an element of luck when it comes to winning titles. Players staying fit, the late goals, players hitting out-of-this-world form at the right time – everything has to come together perfectly.

There’s no shame in Liverpool’s season, they’ve just had long-term injuries to key players in key positions, and tired legs after more than two years of non-stop heavy-metal football.

That’s been the issue, nothing has fallen for the Reds.

Klopp could have rotated better in the last six months, but it was always going to be a tough ask retaining the title during a global pandemic and with the entire squad being jaded.

From the outside, it looks like Liverpool have lost that burst of energy needed to compete on three fronts this season.

 

“Ludicrous injuries to key players…”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 17, 2020: Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk walks off injured during the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC, the 237th Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

MATTY LONG (@Matty_Long) – ARSENAL

The issue probably lies in mental and physical fatigue.

It was always going to be tough to repeat the trick on a shorter turnaround, and without the sort of psychological bookend to a season that should have come in the form of a trophy parade and a couple of months away.

I’m sure the players are willing, but they must be a bit jaded by the empty stands and constant football, without getting to share in their successes with the fans.

Add to that the ludicrous injuries to key players and contrast with a team like Man City, who are so flush with options that they can casually rotate at the back without any real detriment to their starting XI.

There may be other soft factors at play, but I don’t think you need to dig too deep to see why Liverpool aren’t reaching the same outrageous levels as before.

 

“A perfect storm of problems…”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, September 28, 2020: Liverpool’s Joe Gomez (L) and Virgil van Dijk before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by Propaganda)

DAVE BLACK (@cm9798) – NEWCASTLE

It’s almost been a perfect storm of problems for Klopp and Liverpool to deal with.

It goes without saying that losing Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez was always going to be a problem, but I actually think the defensive replacements have acquitted themselves well – until Sunday at least.

It’s more that two of the first-choice midfielders have ended up filling in that has been the problem.

Fabinho plays a big part in pressing the opposition to win the ball back and without him in midfield it seems a lot easier for teams to get at that makeshift defence.

Add to that a dip in form for the front three and no fans to be that ’12th man’ and it’s actually a surprise it took this long into the season for a blip to occur.

Results around the Premier League have been fairly erratic during this period of no fans and I think it’s easy to forget that after the initial break last season, Liverpool had to do relatively little to get over the line and results were actually pretty average – not that they needed to be anything other than that.

City have found a formula that works in these conditions, but they are better equipped than most teams in the world.

Get out of the season with a top-four finish and hopefully everything will be back to normal by August.

 

“Time for a No. 9 change…”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 3, 2021: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino and manager Jürgen Klopp during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

CHARLIE SMITH (@CharlieSmith118) – LEEDS

I think it’s a combination of constant injuries and not being able to thrive off the Anfield crowd.

Of course, every team is in the same boat, but it seems to be affecting Liverpool the most.

The influence of Roberto Firmino, or lack thereof, appears to be noticeable, too. He’s never been a striker to get you 20 or more league goals, but his all-round game seems to have dipped.

Time for a No. 9 change, perhaps?

 

“Stagnant and short of ideas…”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, July 26, 2020: Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (R) speaks with team-mate Sadio Mané during the final match of the FA Premier League season between Newcastle United FC and Liverpool FC at St. James' Park. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. Liverpool won 3-1 and finished the season as Champions on 99 points. (Pic by Propaganda)

RICHARD BRERETON (@RichardBrer) – SOUTHAMPTON

Liverpool have obviously been badly affected by injuries and this goes some way to explaining the poor form.

I think that a bigger factor has been their activity in the transfer market, though.

The decision not to replace Dejan Lovren has left Liverpool incredibly exposed to injuries (Van Dijk, Gomez, Joel Matip) and poor form (Trent Alexander-Arnold).

This decision feels incredibly naive, considering the prior injury records of Matip and Gomez – it’s staggering to think that a team trying to retain the title didn’t foresee this becoming an issue.

Defensive issues aside, there has been a real lack of cutting edge in attack, too. The over-reliance on Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane has proved costly with their lack of form.

Thiago is a good player, but he has been unfortunate with injury and illness. That, coupled with the need to play midfielders in defence, has left the midfield looking stagnant and short of ideas.

If Alex Ferguson was Liverpool manager he would have shifted out Xherdan Shaqiri, Gini Wijnaldum and possibly others in the summer and brought in fresh, hungry players.

Klopp seems to have shown loyalty to past players, and while that is admirable, it has ultimately compromised the Reds’ attacking quality.

 

“The manager should possibly have rotated more…”

Klopp, Origi, Oxlade, subs (Phil Noble/PA Wire/PA Images)

ROB GUEST (@RobGuesty) – TOTTENHAM

I think the intensity Klopp wants his Liverpool side to play with has played a part in their poor form this campaign.

Constantly wanting his players to press and run all day was always going to take its toll at some point and that looks to be the case right now.

Injuries to key players have certainly not helped the side since the start of the season, while the manager should possibly have rotated more to ensure his key men remain fresh, rather than constantly playing them.

I also think the hammering away to Aston Villa has had a big impact on the side – it now appears that many clubs know how to approach a game against Liverpool and frustrate them.

 

“Welcome to a bit of normality…”

2EA3A92 Liverpool's Mohamed Salah reacts during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2021. PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

ROBBIE SCOTCHER (@RobbieScotcher) – CRYSTAL PALACE

Firstly, there didn’t seem much wrong when you thrashed us 7-0, so writing anything that could be up with Liverpool shows what a basket case of a season this is and how the media overreact.

Every winning streak comes to an end and Liverpool have been unplayable for about three years.

Lose your best players and the team suffers. Play midfielders in defence then you’re sometimes going to get beat, especially against the league leaders in this kind of form.

It’s obvious that the balance of the team is off, due to injuries. Everyone can see that. Maybe it’s the last season for this squad and there will be some changes this summer, but Van Dijk will come back.

You’ll never stop the debate about whether Firmino is finished or not, but he’s not.

This is what football is like for the rest of us.

Living in London, I’m surrounded by fans of other clubs – mainly Man United – but all my Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs, West Ham and Southampton mates claim to be robbed by VAR, hate playing Burnley and support a team that may have you tweeting ‘I LOVE MY FOOTBALL CLUB’ one week and avoiding Match of the Day the next.

Welcome to a bit of normality, Liverpool FC. I’m sure it won’t be for long.

 

“Subconscious complacency and a lessening of determination…”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 7, 2021: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at Anfield. Manchester City won 4-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

MATT JONES (@MattJFootball) – EVERTON

As much as the injuries are hard to overlook, there is a feeling of this team simply reaching the summit of the mountain.

After pouring everything into the last couple of seasons and achieving practically everything, it would only be natural for a subconscious complacency and a lessening of determination to take hold.

The manager is clearly agitated and there seem to be a few lads down on themselves. Maybe they just need to start trying to have some fun with it all again?

That might be challenging when the mindset has been all about winning in recent seasons, but it feels like getting some joy back might best pave the way to a top-four finish.

All answers were provided prior to Wednesday’s news about Jurgen Klopp‘s recent loss and are related to on-pitch events only.

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