Under the microscope; Liverpool

In the understatement of the year, Liverpool have had a disappointing season. They’re not going to be able to defend their FA Cup or League Cup and are 10th in the Premier League.

It’s the polar opposite of last season, where The Reds were agonisingly close to winning everything European club football had to offer. Manchester City (winning the Premier League) and Real Madrid (in the Champions League final) got in the way of that.

With the success of last season, optimism was plenty at the start of this season, but in my humble opinion, this is where it soured. Liverpool’s start of the season.

The Merseysiders lost their talismanic forward Sadio Mane. Mane who had been a mainstay in their attack opted for pastures new and would sign for German champions Bayern Munich. The chance to be the main man, proving too good to turn down.

This was the first mistake, Sadio Mane leaving. It’s the golden rule in football, you don’t keep an unhappy player in your team, get rid. As true as that is, the solution to that was to have sold Mohammed Salah and allowed new signing Darwin Nunez to move into the middle.

Or maybe not signed Nunez at all. No, not because the Uruguayan isn’t a good player, real football fans can clearly see he is. For all his goals, Salah misses a lot of chances and doesn’t offer as much as Mane.

The Senegalese star can play across the front line, Mohammed Salah, not so much I think. For example, in Saturday’s defeat to Wolves, the Egyptian attacker was in his normal position out wide, and he doesn’t offer much defensively, which leads to players like Trent Alexander-Arnold getting exposed.

Liverpool are so open and are conceding goals at will!

But hasn’t it always been like that? That would be the counterargument. Yes, but the issue is also with the midfield. Liverpool having an issue with their midfield isn’t something that you would say about Jurgen Klopp’s side, but it’s glaringly obvious.

Trent is getting a lot more exposed as a result. Right-back TAA can defend, but the lack of cohesion on the pitch is hurting Liverpool a lot. Alexander- Arnold isn’t fully at fault as the phases before it gets to him are not getting dealt with.

Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones have had more game time, that’s been due to The Reds being short in numbers. Jordan Henderson and James Milner (captain and vice-captain) are in their mid 30’s.

On the face of it, that would mean both men have a couple of seasons. In Jurgen’s midfield, they’re getting exposed. Liverpool in their pomp would have a very aggressive midfield and an aggressive attack too.

The first two parts of the top end of the pitch are disjointed. Mane, Salah and Roberto Firmino had a balance to it, and so did the midfield three. Strikers defend from the front and with Klopp he had his sides Gegen pressing.

That, or at least how I understand it at least is aggressive pressing higher up the pitch. Think Ralf Ragnick or the kind of football at the Red Bell franchise. In my own humble opinion for this system of pressing to work, all parts of the pitch need to be in harmony and sink.

Liverpool’s front line hasn’t been settled all season. This is due to injuries but also form too. Main man Mohammed Salah, who was given a bumper new deal, has seen his form take a nose-dive after the Africa Cup Of Nations last year.

Arsenal had the same kind of issue with Pierre Americk-Aubameyang. Gabonese forward Aubameyang when given a new deal, struggled the season and would end up being sold.

Liverpool should do the same and start again with their attack. Mane’s loss has disrupted the whole rhythm, and it only goes to show how valuable he was to Liverpool.

In my humble opinion. I would love Firmino to be in a number 10 role and put Diaz and Nunez up top. Bobby will be the in-between link from midfield to the forwards of course, but I feel this will enable the Brazilian to have a more free role.

He’s a hard-working player and very underrated, giving him the Bergkamp-like role, might utilise his skills to the full. One thing is for certain it’s not working currently.

Columbian Diaz has been superb since joining the club and I do support the conversation that he needs to be in the front line, maybe interchange with Jota from time to time to freshen things up.

From this being one of their weaknesses, it’s now one of Liverpool’s strengths, but the attack being good doesn’t solve the other issues Liverpool have on the pitch.

Injuries are of course hurting Jurgen Klopp’s side. Dutch captain Virgil Van Dijk is a huge loss, but there are other players good enough to come in. It’s not quite the put Fabinho and Henderson at the back stage, but it’s not far off the way the injuries are piling up.

Both full-backs are fine and don’t need changing, but it’s what’s in front of them that’s the issue. Let’s look at this like a game of chess. The queen (in this case goalkeeper Alisson) has pawns protecting him (the defenders and everyone else in front of him).

Liverpool when in full flow had their goalkeeper well covered, but this season it’s not been the case. A mixture of individual mistakes and a tweak of tactics is the cause for Liverpool shipping in more goals.

Although all teams have this problem, the mid-season World Cup has maybe disrupted them. This is my theory when it comes to Bayern and PSG. The lack of midfield signings is also a problem and when they did, they sign Arthur?

Juventus midfielder Arthur since leaving Barca has been a shadow of the player, which lead The Catalan giants to sign him from Brazilian side Santos. Arthur Melo has hardly played for the club even though they are having a midfield crisis.

This year has been so un-Liverpool-like. They got their planning for the start of the season so wrong. Julian Ward who was the director of football in Liverpool’s trophy-laden period, has since left and his replacement Michael Edwards needs some time to settle into the role.

Of course, it’s Edwards who set up the deals for Nunez and Diaz, which both will be good deals, but the lack of forward planning for getting midfield reinforcements is so not like The Reds.

If that was Jurgen Klopp or Michael Edwards we won’t know. So football fans here is my tempted take on what’s going wrong at Liverpool and what needs to be done to change it.

Do you agree or disagree? Do let us know in the comments.

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