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Klopp got problems

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Just when things seem to be getting better, it is back to square one for Liverpool. Their latest 1-0 loss to Nottingham Forrest is just a reflection of their season. Whenever it looks like Jurgen Klopp has got his mojo back, a loss or draw following an insipid performance puts a spanner in the works. 

Liverpool’s struggles this season can be traced back to match day three when they took on Manchester United. After losing to their bitter rivals, Liverpool won two matches, including an impressive 9-0 win over Bournemouth. However, what followed was a goalless draw against Everton and a 4-1 defeat in the Champions League against Napoli as the impressive Khvicha Kvaratskhelia took apart the Reds’ defence. 

From then, Liverpool won their next match against Ajax before drawing to Brighton, followed by a win against Rangers before losing to Arsenal and then won three straight games before losing to Nottingham. What is more frustrating is that Liverpool have shown that they can deliver top performances, as was evident by their 1-0 win over Manchester City. 

So, what is the reason behind Liverpool’s struggles? We take a look. 

Liverpool struggles- What do the stats say?

While Liverpool may have been at the end of a 4-1 thrashing against Napoli, Liverpool have bounced back with three wins, so they have momentum in the Champions League. However, the Premier League has been a different story for the 2019-20 champions. 

So, what do the stats say? Well, We can divide them into three parts, attack, midfield and defence. 

The attack

In the attack, Liverpool have primarily remained the same. They are the fifth-most high-scoring team in the league and are second in the expected goals metric. Liverpool have also taken the most shots of any team in the league. However, only 65 of those have been targeted, giving them a shot accuracy of only 34.2 per cent, the seventh-worst in the league. Klopp’s men are also struggling with a goal conversion rate of 10.53 per cent, which is good enough for only the ninth-best in the league. 

Moreover, their goals have also come in a bunch. Out of the 22 goals, nine have come in a single match against Bournemouth. This means that excluding that match, Liverpool have only scored 13 goals in 10 games, not champion-level scoring. 

The midfield

If one area of the team has been affected by injuries, it has been the midfield. In the summer transfer window, Klopp signed Darwin Nunez to bolster the attack but still needs to sign top names in the middle of the park. He placed trust in his existing players and only signed one young unfinished promising talent Fabio Carvalho.  

However, the lack of a quality midfielder who can remain injury-free has cost Liverpool massively. At one time, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita, and Curtis Jones, Thiago were all injured. As Klopp has tried to chop and change, these injuries have cost them, and fatal errors come with a lack of match practice. 

Make no mistakes; Liverpool have been playing their Gegenpressing style perfectly. As a result, they are currently top in the league in the Buildup Disruption Percentage (BDP) metric. This means that they have executed the press to perfection, but time and again, the opposition have found gaps, especially between the midfield and defence, which has caught Liverpool’s midfielder napping several times. 

Stats behind Liverpool’ struggles this season

Metric  Ratings  Position in the league 
Shot Accuracy  34.2 % 14
xG against  17.55 13
Goal conversion  10.53 9
Aerials won  142 14

The defence

And now we come to the defence, the area which has cost Liverpool the most points. The Reds have been repeatedly opened by the rivals’ attack, with Trent Alexander Arnold facing the most heat. The right-back has been caught out of position several times. To his credit, Trent has played like this for his entire career, but this season, the defence has failed to perform, leading to fierce criticism of his positional sense.

However, other members of the defence also share the blame. Virgil van Dijk who has been almost flawless since joining the team, has failed to replicate his previous seasons’ form. Joel Matip has also been injured, and so has Andy Robertson, which means the team never had a settled defence. 

What is the solution to Liverpool’s struggles?

Jurgen Klopp was the one who had labelled Liverpool as ‘mentality monsters’ for their extreme mental strength. However, the past few weeks have seen Liverpool at their meekest. Time and again, Liverpool have dropped points in the game’s final minutes or gone behind at the start of a game. 

It would be naive to think Liverpool’s struggles this season are only down to their tactical shape. The 4-3-3 has got Liverpool a Champions League and Premier League title, and it is unfair to put all the blame on just a formation.

Liverpool’s struggles go beyond that, with most blame attributed to the player’s mental strength. It is hard to believe that the players who ran Manchester City to the title last year are struggling to beat mid-table teams.

The solution is a mix of mental toughness and a change in tactical set-up. Could Klopp be tempted to alter his midfield formation? Will he go for a star midfielder in the winter transfer window? These questions can only be answered by Jurgen Klopp.

However, one thing needs to be mentioned, if the same players can defeat Manchester City and stop Erling Haaland from scoring, then blaming tactics, and formation, look naive. So, the best solution is for Liverpool’s ‘mentality monster’ to rise again.

Saumy Deepak Tripathi
A Bayern Munich fan who is deeply in love with football statistics. Has a soft spot for goalkeepers! (well only he knows why). You’ll find him vibing on 70’s classic songs and spends an abnormal amount of time cooking.

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