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LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 3, 2022: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk during the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC, the 241st Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool’s “big players nowhere near best” as media lament “something missing”

There was a lack of cohesion on show for Liverpool in their 0-0 draw against Everton, a match that had the media talking after dropping points for the “fourth time in six games.”

The Reds were not without their chances against the Blues, Jordan Pickford’s title as Man of the Match showed as much, but there was to be no clinical, ruthless blow.

Jurgen Klopp‘s side remain disjointed and there are a number of factors that you could point to for a laborious start to the campaign that has returned just nine points.

It leaves plenty of ground to make up, and here’s how the media reacted to the stalemate at Goodison Park.

 

There was a clear sense that there is “something missing”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 3, 2022: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC, the 241st Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Independent‘s Richard Jolly touched on a lack of “fluency” and an experiment that did not pay off for Liverpool:

Nine points have escaped their grasp already this season and, while they mounted a second-half onslaught, a new habit of slow starts is impeding them. At least this time they avoided conceding the first goal in a game, albeit because there were none.

Klopp is no stranger to rest and rotation in the derby; he trusted in youth by giving Fabio Carvalho a first Premier League start. The experiment only lasted 45 minutes in which Liverpool lacked fluency before Firmino was summoned in a switch to four forwards.

The feeling was echoed by BBC‘s Phil McNulty, who added that a handful of “big players are nowhere near their best:”

Liverpool may have picked up successive Premier League wins against Bournemouth and Newcastle United but there is still something missing from the team that chased four trophies right to the end of last season, winning the FA Cup and EFL Cup.

Some of Liverpool’s big players are nowhere near their best – and although Jurgen Klopp‘s side had plenty of chances here, Everton also troubled them.

Fabinho laboured once more in midfield with the youth of Harvey Elliott and Fabio Carvalho alongside him, although the latter only last 45 minutes.

Klopp will be delighted to have seen Diogo Jota back in action as substitute late on but the overall result will disappoint a manager so well versed in victory over recent years, with only two wins and nine points – the German’s lowest points tally with Liverpool after six Premier League games.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 3, 2022: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold during the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC, the 241st Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A point that was echoed by This Is Anfield‘s James Nalton, sensing that it is “probably a hangover” from last season:

This is probably a hangover from last season when these players were heavily involved throughout without much of a summer break, but if Liverpool are to challenge for honours this season these key players need to get back into their groove before it’s far too late.

Six points off the top after six games played, with others having a game in hand, you might argue it’s already too late.

And Mohamed Salah‘s lack of involvement again proved concerning for the Express’ Charlie Malam, with his positioning not reaping any fortune for the Reds:

He is being deployed far wider and less as an inside forward in a noticeable change of approach from Liverpool.

And Klopp will surely be concerned at how uninvolved Salah has been for large periods of matches – even though he saw more of the ball after Firmino came on and would’ve netted a late winner if not for a fine Pickford save.

 

The lack of midfield cohesion was still a talking point…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 3, 2022: Liverpool's Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' (L) and Roberto Firmino applaud the supporters after the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC, the 241st Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Chris Bascombe, of the Telegraph, lamented the “negativity” of the first half and commented on the more “direct” approach from Liverpool:

Klopp filled his team sheet with attacking intent, the inclusion of youngsters Harvey Elliott and Fabio Carvalho a statement on how much possession he anticipated, and yet there was a curious negativity to how they played in the first half, none of the passing with penetration.

In the midst of their disappointment, Liverpool at least had a strategy. It may be the opposite to pretty much everything they have done under Klopp to go so direct when they are educated to keep the ball, but this is the way with Nunez in the side, or there is little point in his signing.

The Echo‘s Ian Doyle, meanwhile, noted the search for an “effective blend” in midfield remains for Klopp in the face of injuries and a new loan signing:

There were some signs of general encouragement with Joel Matip back as a late substitute alongside Diogo Jota, who was making his first appearance of the season after a hamstring problem.

Unlike against Newcastle United midweek, there was to be no injury-time drama, and nor could there be any real complaints with the final outcome. But through circumstance or otherwise, Jurgen Klopp’s pursuit of an effective midfield blend continues.

 

There were attempts to find reasons for optimism…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 3, 2022: Everton's Conor Coady (L) and Liverpool's Darwin Núñez during the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC, the 241st Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The performance of Joe Gomez was worthy of praise from GOAL‘s Neil Jones, who senses that it must surely be the No. 2’s spot to lose:

Having waited a long time to get back into Liverpool’s team, Gomez looks like he’s not about to waste his big chance.

He was outstanding here, assured alongside his great mate Virgil van Dijk at centre-back and then positive and strong at right-back in the closing stages.

Save for one loose clearance, which almost led to a goal for Tom Davies, this was the England international at his best.

Joel Matip is fit again, but the shirt is Gomez’s for now, surely?

There were positive signs for what Darwin Nunez can offer in the eyes of the Guardian‘s Andy Hunter, but more dropped points makes for a giant mountain to climb:

Darwin Núñez showed glimmers of quality on his return from a three-match ban but also signs of needing time to integrate to Liverpool’s well-drilled patterns. More dropped points, for the fourth time in six games this season, is the bottom-line worry.

And Nalton welcomed the options Klopp is starting to have once more, but the search for “cohesion” will be ongoing:

With Joel Matip, Diogo Jota, James Milner, Roberto Firmino, and new signing Arthur on the bench for this game Liverpool suddenly appear to have impressive strength in depth.

On top of this, Thiago and Ibrahima Konate are still to return, while Calvin Ramsay is also waiting to make an impact at the club.

This depth will be vital now there are two games per week, and the addition of just one player, Arthur, can make such a big difference, just as Diaz’s signing did earlier in the year.

We need cohesion though, and that looks a long way off.

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