Liverpool were left licking their wounds once again after the Premier League‘s lowest-scoring side scored three unanswered goals, and there’s plenty we need and demand from the Reds.
For the 16th time this season, Liverpool conceded the first goal of the game and Wolves happily punished Jurgen Klopp‘s side for yet another slow start.
It’s the latest low in a season that has served up more than its fair share of disappointments, with Klopp describing the defeat at Wolves as the “pinnacle of our problems.”
There’s a lot we want to see from the Reds in the days and weeks to come, but what are the basic needs and demands?
DEMAND – Show some fight
It sounds simple enough. Fight for each other, for the fans and for the badge.
There’s a difference between performance and confidence levels not being enough to get a win and showing desire, passion and hunger to turn things around.
But too many times this season the body language and effort have been questionable, Klopp even hinted as much after the defeat at Wolves.
“The team is not full of confidence, you can see that – the first 12 minutes were obvious, but it was about defending, being compact, being active,” Klopp said.
“Do you need a lot of confidence for that? I am not so sure. Put your body between yourself and the ball and the opponent, block the ball and these kind of things.”
It’s the bare minimum. Intensity is meant to be our identity, time to show it.
NEED – A route to goal
In the last six Premier League games, Liverpool have scored just six times. And two of them were off the boot of Leicester‘s Wout Faes.
The Reds have shown they can carve out chances, not nearly enough, but when they do they are not making them count, only adding further pressure to a vulnerable defence.
The dynamism of the attack is not like it once was and the injuries to Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota do not help, with Liverpool lacking pace and width on the wings.
Cody Gakpo is still, understandably, trying to find his feet, Darwin Nunez is hot and cold and has yet to consistently find his goalscoring boots, and Mohamed Salah is desperately out of form.
It’s currently not a concoction for success but Liverpool need to stop overplaying and overthinking, and Klopp needs to find the right tweaks to build back the confidence in front of goal.
DEMAND – Leave the slow starts behind
Wolves represented the 16th game this season that Liverpool have conceded the first goal across all competitions, nine of those occasions have ended in defeat and just three in a victory.
For a side that is exhausted mentally and physically, it’s a headstart they cannot afford to hand over to the opposition, especially when goals at the other end have dried up.
“It needs to change. That’s the thing. I stand here again and for the first 15 minutes I have no explanation, I’m sorry,” Klopp said after Saturday’s defeat.
Whether it be concentration, attitude or complacency, the mentality at the first whistle is not up to the required standard. At times luck hasn’t been on Liverpool’s side, but you make your own luck.
You reap what you sow, and conceding nine goals in the first 15 minutes of games this season and 23 in the first half (54.76 percent of all goals), is not a recipe for success.
To put that record across 32 fixtures in some perspective, the Reds conceded 26 times in the first half of matches across the entirety of 63 games last season.
NEED – Witch to leave the building
Injuries, they’ve plagued the squad from before the season even got underway.
A total of 22 players have missed at least one game due to injury, with Diogo Jota (24), Arthur (22) Luis Diaz (20) and Naby Keita (19) and Ibrahima Konate (14) accounting for the most games missed.
It is not the crux of Liverpool’s issues, but they’ve more than played their part.
Klopp likened the situation to having a “witch in the building” on the first day and it doesn’t feel as though much has changed in that respect.
Liverpool’s new club doctor Jonathan Power was expected to officially start his role early in 2023, and his department is and will be a crucial cog in the machine.
NEED – Bring back the fun
Football is the game the players love, the fans and the manager too.
There’s no other reason why you would put yourself through this emotional turmoil, but it’s all part and parcel of the rollercoaster ride.
It’s easy to be weighed down by the pressure, the bad results and performances, and it’s for this reason that Klopp needs to find a way to bring back the fun.
Hell, take the team bowling, to mini golf, to the arcade. It may not be what some want to see but these players are fit and they know how to play football, what they’ve lost is that spark.
It’s time to reinvigorate and to rediscover the fun and Klopp may need to get creative to do just that.