Friday, June 22, 2018

Liverpool still Jekyll and Hyde of the Premier League

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 15 Aug 2016

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will be pleased with his sides attacking play in the second half against Arsenal, but not their defensive shape

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will be pleased with his sides attacking play in the second half against Arsenal, but not their defensive shape

Liverpool’s 4-3 win at Arsenal on Sunday summed up their performances under charismatic German boss Jurgen Klopp.

The Reds were terrible for 45 minutes, as they struggled to string two passes together, then for 20 minutes they produced the sort of attacking display any team would be proud of to score four goals.

Coutinho sums up Liverpool under Klopp

Since the appointment of Jurgen Klopp last October the Reds have endured mixed fortunes, simply because of their unpredictability. You just never know what Liverpool team will turn-up. This is typified by one Philippe Coutinho.

When he is hot, he is a joy to watch. The Brazilian scores goals and creates them as well. At his best he is majestic. However, just like his team, Coutinho is frustratingly inconsistent and has a tendency to disappear from games.

Against Arsenal he was fantastic, scoring twice and looking like he means business this season for the Reds.  However, another frustrating facet of the Brazilian is his innate ability to pick-up injuries and knocks just when you believe he is going to find consistency.

If Klopp can get the Brazilian international to stay fit and keep him consistent then the Reds will do great things in the near future. If he carries on like in recent seasons, then we will just see flashes of brilliance from the former Inter star.

Poor at the back

It may sound harsh after a 4-3 away win on the opening day of the Premier League campaign, but Liverpool was poor at the back. Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund team in their pomp were based on a solid defensive foundation, the current Liverpool defence seems to be built on quicksand.

Last season the Reds conceded 50 goals in the Premier League, the most they had ever conceded in a Premier League campaign. Klopp may prefer to play attacking football, but the way his defence is performing at the moment will worry him.

Klopp attempted to improve his defence with the centre-back signings Ragnar Klavan and Joel Matip, the former made his debut at Arsenal, but Matip did not make it onto the pitch. Klavan did not have a terrible game, but he will not be happy his team conceded three goals.

One position in the Reds backline that is particularly concerning is left-back. Spaniard Alberto Moreno played against Arsenal and proved that his position should be left-back, that’s left-back on Merseyside.

He was awful in the first half. At one point in the first period, I am sure Klopp was trying to do a deal to sell him to Arsene Wenger because he might as well have had an Arsenal shirt on. Reportedly James Milner was due to start in the position but was injured.

Milner is a very reliable jack of all trades, but the Reds need a proper left-back playing in the position, not Milner filling-in. Thankfully for Moreno, his performance was glossed over by the fact that the Reds took such control of the game in the early periods of the second half.

If Liverpool are to progress they need to improve defensively and quickly or they will keep getting punished and not every team will let them score four goals.

Top-four contenders

Without a doubt, Jurgen Klopp’s side are contenders for the top-four this season. The Reds are odds of 10/11 to clinch a Champions League spot this season. Their title odds have also been reduced slightly, but Liverpool fans should not let themselves get carried away just yet.

When the Reds attacking players click, the likes of Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Adam Lallana can produce fantastic attacking football. They will win a lot of games this season, but most teams will not be as open or as understaffed as the Gunners in defence.

Everybody connected with the Merseyside club should be encouraged by the team’s attacking play against Arsenal, but the team produced the same sort of style on an inconsistent basis last season as well.

If Liverpool are to finish in the top-four this season then they need to shake off this Jekyll and Hyde tag and sort out their defensive. If they do then they could be a real surprise package in the Premier League.

Will Liverpool be consistent enough to finish in the top-four this season?


David Nugent

David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.



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