LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, November 30, 2023: Liverpool's Cody Gakpo looks dejected after missing a chance during the UEFA Europa League Group E match day 5 game between Liverpool FC and LASK at Anfield. Liverpool won 4-0. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool’s slow starts: A growing issue at both ends that must change – and quick!

Liverpool have been continually wasting energy this season by allowing the opposition to get a head start, and their slow starts need kicking to the curb.

Jurgen Klopp has always wanted Liverpool to be the team no one wants to face, the side that is one the hardest to beat – not the one that shoots itself in the foot.

Too often this season, 21 times in fact, Liverpool have placed themselves under unnecessary early pressure by conceding the first goal, giving their opponent the upper hand.

It is a bad habit that has plagued the team for a few seasons now, and it drains energy supplies as the Reds need to continually fight back from 1-0 down.

A goal down 21 times…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 14, 2024: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker makes a save from Crystal Palace's Jean-Philippe Mateta during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The defeat to Crystal Palace was the 21st time the Reds have conceded first in all competitions this season, and the seventh instance Liverpool have failed to overturn the early deficit to lose.

A successful comeback, meanwhile, has occurred nine times – and while that nods to a mentality capable of reacting to adversity, the mindset early doors is clearly troublesome.

On average, the Reds have conceded the first goal inside the first 23 minutes of games, with six instances of a goal in the back of the Liverpool net inside the first 10 minutes.

Liverpool 1-0 down after how many minutes…

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 4, 2024: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker looks dejected as Arsenal score the opening goal during the FA Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Average: 22.6 mins

Liverpool were once famed for their ruthless starts to games, quickly getting their opponent to tap their submission, but now their opponents know they can catch them off kilter.

Individual errors and lapses have all played their part, but there is a larger issue at play with the mentality from the first whistle and perhaps even the tactical set-up.


Breaking the cycle

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, April 11, 2024: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp attempts to gee up the crowd during the UEFA Europa League Quarter-Final 1st Leg match between Liverpool FC and BC Atalanta at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There is now a sense of inevitability for the other team to score first and it is a surprise if that is not the case, as Liverpool have only scored inside the first 15 minutes themselves 10 times.

No team in the English top flight has as many points from losing positions this season as Liverpool (27), and while it may feel euphoric at the time, we’re paying the price deep into the campaign.

Injuries have already ensured certain players have played more than planned, and mustering one comeback after another was always bound to add to the fatigue both mentally and physically.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 17, 2023: Liverpool's captain Virgil van Dijk reacts during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. The game ended in a goal-less draw. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It is not sustainable, and with Liverpool having gone on to lose three out of the last four games that they have conceded first, it is a cycle that is proving harder to break.

Liverpool can snap out of it, but it requires composure and discipline from the first whistle, building into the game on a solid foundation, not with 1-0 against them on the scoreboard.

The Reds no longer have any margin for error, but they cannot allow that to also weigh them down as we reach the final stretch of a campaign that can still be salvaged.

Enough time has been spent shooting ourselves in the foot, and as Klopp said back in 2016, “only silly idiots stay on the floor and wait for the next defeat” – now it’s time to strike back, and quick!