The characteristics that have long defined this Liverpool side were nowhere to be seen as Anfield witnessed a 2-1 defeat at the hands of a Leeds side that had not won since mid-August.
Liverpool 1-2 Leeds
Premier League (12), Anfield
October 29, 2022
Goals: Rodrigo 4′, Summerville 89′; Salah 14′
Same old problems
Strong lineup, decent bench, same old problems.
Jurgen Klopp clearly meant business going with arguably his strongest available XI. Forward options on the bench remain limited, but the Salah-Bobby- Nunez trio was effective against Ajax, so they were always going to be the front three against Leeds.
All three have been heavily involved in the bulk of Liverpool’s goals of late and with Thiago and Harvey Elliott there to supply the ammunition against a porous Leeds defence, it seemed an attractive proposition before a ball was kicked.
It didn’t turn out that way.
We have been saying for weeks that we need our players back and all would improve. Well, we had a very strong first 11 on show and it didn’t change the narrative whatsoever.
Another slow start, another game where we concede the first goal and another game we are chasing rather than bossing. At home. At Anfield. Under the lights!
Not since April 2017, 81 games ago, had Liverpool lost in front of a full house in the league at Anfield.
Where was the midfield?
The ‘engine room’ is the heartbeat of any team, we all know that. But to be the heartbeat you have to show heart.
It’s yet another midfield trio that failed to do the business. Klopp has chopped and changed the midfield options all season but with the same outcome.
They were outfought and outrun.
They were lethargic in possession and clueless out of it.
Fabinho continued his worst run of form since he arrived at the club. Thiago couldn’t find a pass and was caught in possession throughout. Elliott relies on his senior midfield partners’ control to be able to contribute.
Lack of confidence, lack of fight
It would be wrong to single out just the midfield. Wherever you looked on the pitch, there was nervousness and lethargy. Nerves come with poor form. Lethargy comes from a lack of effort.
With the exception of the excellent Andy Robertson, players who have been world-class for so long looked devoid of confidence – but more worrying, devoid of drive and determination.
Leeds, a team without a win in eight games – outran Liverpool by 11 kilometres!
Being outfought and outrun in all areas of the pitch translated into an error-strewn performance in every area. Virgil van Dijk (who can no longer boast of never having lost a league game at Anfield) and Gomez looked a shadow of their previous formidable partnership.
Slow to react
For several seasons, we’ve not really had to change the team at halftime because we’ve invariably been in the ascendency and rarely behind in games.
Yes, it was 1-1 at halftime, but it was clearly not working. Joe Gomez should have been sacrificed for his own sake. It was clear that the ponderous midfield needed something different.
But once again, Jurgen decided to stick with the starting 11 deep into the second half and once again, we got ‘more of the same’ as the second half progressed.
If anything, it got worse, because we were actually being outplayed on a footballing level by Leeds before changes were made.
Gomez needs to hit reset
Let me be clear. I am not singling Gomez out as the reason we lost that game. It was a collective failure. But it would be remiss to not call him out after yet another dismal showing.
It was, after all, his basic error that set the tone of the game after only three minutes.
Man of the match against Man City has been followed by some quite astonishing mistakes. Once again we go behind in a game and once again it’s the result of the most basic of errors.
Joe simply didn’t even look up to see where Alisson was – or indeed where the Leeds striker was. His error turned a somewhat lively start from Liverpool, and nervous start from Leeds, completely on its head.
It’s a career that once showed great promise but seems to be on an ongoing downward spiral.
Klopp said just last week after the Nottingham Forest defeat that it is his job to “find solutions,” let’s hope he finds some very soon because the league season is in danger of becoming calamitous.
As fans, we must dig deep ourselves and help the manager and team through this difficult period.