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10 questions Liverpool fans are asking during record losing run

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Six league losses in a row at Anfield, and only three wins in the last 14. It is a nightmare spell for Liverpool, and rightly there are a number of questions supporters could ask.

The Reds seem to be experiencing the flipside of a deal with the devil that allowed them to win the Premier League, Champions League, Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup in the space of just over a year.

Now, with a clutch of Jurgen Klopp‘s most important players sidelined for the long term, results have gone the other way, and the title challenge has turned into a desperate battle for a top-four place.

Having lost six top-flight home games in a row for the first time in their history, this Liverpool side are closer to mid-table than they are top four, with the very real threat of going from Champions League to Europa Conference League.

Many problems are easy to explain, but others are decidedly less clear, so here are 10 questions fans are asking during this dreadful run.

 

Why was Davies signed?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 3, 2021: Liverpool's Ben Davies during the pre-match warm-up before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The double deadline-day deal for Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak was widely considered as, though not ideal, effectively addressing the Reds’ centre-back crisis with minimal risk.

But while Kabak was trusted immediately – to the point when, after five consecutive appearances, he joined the injury list – Davies has only made the matchday squad for three of a possible eight games since joining, without playing a minute.

There have been claims of fitness problems, but even when available he has been snubbed – such as in the 1-0 loss to Fulham, when the less-experienced Rhys Williams was brought in to start and no specialist centre-back was named on a nine-man substitutes’ bench.

At this point it seems unlikely Davies will ever play for Liverpool, with it more feasible that he was signed to sell on at a profit in the summer.

 

Where is Tsimikas?

SALZBURG, AUSTRIA - Tuesday, August 25, 2020: Liverpool's substitute Kostas Tsimikas during a preseason friendly match between FC Red Bull Salzburg and Liverpool FC at the Red Bull Arena. (Pic by Propaganda)

Yes, he’s had his injury problems, and a bout of COVID-19, but Kostas Tsimikas has made the matchday squad 20 times this season and only featured in five games.

Only three of those have been starts – including one against Lincoln and one in the dead-rubber against Midtjylland – and he has only played five minutes since the turn of the year.

Andy Robertson has played more than any other Liverpool player this season, while his backup has, like Davies, at times been overlooked for even a nine-man bench.

Not fit enough? Not good enough? Who knows!

 

Why was Minamino loaned out?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 13, 2020: Liverpool's substitute Takumi Minamino during the FA Premier League match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

When Takumi Minamino was loaned to Southampton on deadline day, Klopp admitted that he had not been given enough opportunities at Liverpool, and at times he had lost out to Divock Origi due to the Belgian’s height advantage.

But given Origi’s lack of quality, Diogo Jota‘s injury and the impact an overreliance has had on Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, it remains a bizarre decision.

 

Can we ditch the high line?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 7, 2021: Liverpool's Rhys Williams (L) and Nathaniel Phillips during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Fulham FC at Anfield. Fulham won 1-0 extending Liverpool's run to six consecutive home defeats. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

So much of Liverpool’s success has been built on the intuition and speed of Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and, to a lesser extent, Joel Matip at centre-back, allowing a high defensive line to be deployed as part of an intense pressing system.

But in their absence, the high line has remained and the Reds have been exploited time and time again, with Williams and Nat Phillips not blessed with the requisite recovery pace and Fabinho and Jordan Henderson not attuned to the nuances of the role.

Why, then, has an executive decision not been made to, without the calibre of players available to pull it off, ditch the high line for now, in favour of stability?

 

Why do Liverpool start games so slowly?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 7, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Fulham FC at Anfield. Fulham won 1-0 extending Liverpool's run to six consecutive home defeats. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In their title-winning season, Liverpool made a habit of scoring early, with 15 of their 85 goals (18%) coming within the opening 20 minutes in the Premier League.

This term, however, that has dropped off, with six of their 47 goals (13%), coming in the opening stages of a game.

Only five teams have a lower percentage of first-half goals (40.4%; 51.8% in 2019/20) and only four have a later average time for finding the back of the net (52 minutes).

Slow starts are certainly affecting Liverpool’s ability to put games to bed, allowing the opposition to grow into the contest, strike when they can and hold on for the result.

 

Should Klopp change the system?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 20, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp speaks to his team at half-time during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Everton FC, the 238th Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

To tie in with the concern over the high line, for the majority of the season Klopp has persevered with the 4-3-3 setup that has led Liverpool to success.

The majority of his signings were brought in to suit this system and the majority of their time on the training ground is tuned towards making it as effective as possible.

But as seen with the 2-0 win at Sheffield United, which saw the Reds resemble closer to a 4-2-3-1, change may be required to prompt an upturn in fortunes.

 

Could Klopp use his subs better?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, March 4, 2021: Liverpool's substitutes Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Diogo Jota prepare to come on during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. Chelsea won 1-0 condemning Liverpool to their fifth consecutive home defeat for the first time in the club’s history. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Far from it should a mere spectator question the credentials of a manager of Klopp’s ilk, but scrutiny of his decisions is required and, at times, encouraged.

Take his use of his substitutes’ bench for example: could Klopp be more proactive, quicker to address problems and more selective in who he brings on?

 

Will Van Dijk’s return really fix it all?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 12, 2020: Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk during the opening FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leeds United 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 David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Get through the season, get the key players back fit and go again next season. That is the outlook of most supporters – and likely those within the club – at this stage.

Central to this is the return of Van Dijk, which may even come before the end of the campaign such is the progress he is making in his rehabilitation.

But would it be right to expect our No. 4 to solve it all, especially straight away?

 

At what point should we worry for the long term?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 7, 2021: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during the pre-match warm-up before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Fulham FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp’s position as manager is safe, and rightly so, but the problems of this season – and the legacy it will leave – could be a major concern moving forward.

The ridiculous schedule and the injuries it has forced could shorten careers, while the financial impact of over a year without full stadia could severely restrict recruitment.

There are big decisions to be made over the futures of current players, too, not least Mohamed Salah, who appears to be quietly agitating for a move.

Miss out on the Champions League, and Liverpool could struggle to get back to their lofty heights in the near future.

 

And finally, when does the season end?!

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, January 21, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp pulls goalkeeper Alisson Becker away from the referee after losing 1-0 during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Burnley FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It can’t come soon enough, right?

At least we know the answer to this one: May 23 for the Premier League, May 29 if we reach the Champions League final.

Oh, and then there’s the Euros to look forward to straight after…

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