Liverpool played against 10-man Arsenal for 70 minutes and yet failed to land any significant shot on target, but, worryingly, it was not the first time the Reds have struggled in such circumstances.
“From that moment [of the red card] it looked like we felt somehow under pressure,” was how Jurgen Klopp assessed Liverpool’s performance against 10-men after Granit Xhaka was given his marching orders.
And it was not the first time.
As noted by Michael Reid, football data editor at Opta, the Reds have now had six of their opponents this season go down to 10-men for a total of 263 minutes.
In the time that the opponent has had to play with 10-men, Liverpool have only scored a total of three goals, and two of them were from the penalty spot.
Tonight is the sixth time this season Liverpool have seen an opponent have a player sent off.
— Michael Reid (@michael_reid11) January 13, 2022
Mohamed Salah converted both times against Chelsea and Atletico Madrid, while Sadio Mane added the one from open play at Leeds in stoppage time after the game was sealed before Pascal Struijk’s red card.
Overall, the final scoreboard in those games do not make for bad reading but it is the lack of invention and creativity that is alarming on the whole once the opposition drops into a low block.
“In the end, if you play such a low block – that’s already in football the most difficult thing to do – and I’m not surprised we struggled with that a little bit,” Klopp said after the drab stalemate with Arsenal.
“In the second half with the few changes we made I thought we looked better, we had clearer situations, with Curtis and Neco – proper wingers, higher up.”
The lack of invention in the League Cup semi-final was not aided by the absence of Salah and Mane but the midfield did not help matters while any deep laying side nullify the threat of Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Liverpool struggling to penetrate behind a stubborn low block is not a new issue but it’s one that has yet to see a reliable solution emerge, persistence alone is not always key in this instance.