Monday, October 23, 2017

Liverpool’s reverse flat-track bully syndrome is mystifying

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 20 Mar 2017

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Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have had no trouble getting results against the top teams, but have struggled against inferior opposition

Liverpool’s 1-1 draw at Manchester City on Sunday means that the Reds have not been beaten by any of their top six rivals this season.

Yet the Reds still find themselves just fourth in the table and 13 points behind league leaders Chelsea.

Some teams in the top-flight are flat-track bullies who easily defeat the inferior sides.

However, they then fail when they come up against the big boys in the league. Liverpool do it the other way round. They are reverse flat-track bullies, whatever the description for that is.

They shine against the big teams and gain a draw if not a victory against the top teams, but then they struggle against the lesser lights.

Liverpool struggling against the strugglers              

The list of teams that Liverpool have been beaten by in the Premier League this season tells a story of its own. Leicester, Hull, Swansea, Bournemouth and Burnley have all beaten the Reds. All five teams currently sit in the bottom eight of the Premier League table.

It’s like Klopp’s side just switch off or become complacent against the lesser lights in the top-flight. It could have something to do with the opposition teams lifting their game also. However, it is a very common occurrence for Liverpool and it has cost them dearly this season.

If the Reds would have performed better against inferior as they did against the big boys they would have been more realistic title contenders.

Not a new issue for Liverpool

This season is not unique for Liverpool either. The Merseysiders have a history of slipping up (pardon the pun) against lesser teams, shooting themselves in the foot against teams that champions usually find a way of beating.

Last season was the same story as the Reds lost against West Ham twice, Newcastle, Watford and Crystal Palace. However, they took four points off Chelsea, won twice against Manchester City and even defeated eventual champions Leicester City at Anfield.

It seems a strange phenomenon that Liverpool have struggled to overcome in recent years. It may well just be a crucial factor in why the Reds have not won the Premier League title.

Maybe the players and the club, in general, have developed a superiority complex. The club and team used to be one of the best in English football. In recent years they have lagged behind slightly, especially when it has come to spending on players.

A decent run of fixtures

Liverpool are fourth in the table and well in the fight for a Champions League spot. Only a brave man would bet against them at odds of 4/9 to achieve a top-four finish this season. The likes of Arsenal and Manchester United are still very much in the top-four race, while Everton are an unlikely outsider.

Liverpool seem to have a decent run of fixtures in their last nine games of the league season. The Reds face a potentially tricky derby game against neighbours Everton at Anfield in two weeks’ time. However, after that, the fixtures look kind, as Klopp’s side do not have to face any of the top seven teams in the top-flight.

For most teams that would be considered an advantage. However, such has been the effect of the Reds playing poorly against the lesser teams that fans are actually more fearful for these fixtures than they would have been against the league’s big boys.

Liverpool may have struggled against the inferior sides this season. However, for me, they should have enough quality and know-how to stay in the top four spots until the end of the campaign.

If Jurgen Klopp wants to move the team and club forward in the near future he needs to help his team find some consistency. Otherwise, the wait for another English top-flight title is likely to continue for a long time to come.

Why do Liverpool play better against the big clubs in the Premier League?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The 33-year-old 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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