It was always likely that Liverpool’s lack of defensive strength in depth would catch them out this season, and those chickens came home to roost in the 0-1 defeat to Southampton on Monday.
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The period between Christmas and the new year is notorious for the feelings of lethargy and malaise it can produce in sofa-bound families watching an Indiana Jones film for the 247th time. You wouldn’t expect similar listlessness amongst elite-level athletes, mind you, however Liverpool’s performance in the 1-1 draw with West Brom on Sunday suggested that a few of the players were still, spiritually at least, tucking into a box of Heroes on the sofa themselves.
It looked ever more likely that Jose Mourinho’s masterplan was going to prove fruitful at Anfield on Wednesday. Tottenham almost did as their manager wanted: getting themselves into an advantageous position and then attempting to hold out for a positive result.
The problem with being champions is that you are there to be shot at – and everybody wants a piece. The American writer R W Emerson wrote that ‘if you take a shot at the king, you’d better not miss’, and unfortunately for Fulham a profligacy in front of goal cost them a famous victory over Liverpool on Sunday.
It was a game that was expected to be something of a celebration of Liverpool’s fringe players and stars of tomorrow. But in the end, the 1-1 draw with FC Midtjylland was notable after a slice of history was created by one of the club’s most well-established stars.
A small, but very fortunate, band of Liverpool fans were allowed back into Anfield for the first time since March. And they were treated to a glorious performance from their heroes as the Reds ran rampage against an always-tough Wolves side.
The bottom line is that Liverpool marched into the knockout phase of the Champions League with a 1-0 victory over Ajax on Tuesday evening. But, once more, an evening of celebration was marred by more injury woe for Jurgen Klopp.
Another week, another load of VAR controversy. It would be easy for Jurgen Klopp to have something of a complex about video refereeing given how much his team has been affected, and that was evident in technicolour against Brighton on Saturday.
The devastation caused to Liverpool’s squad due to injuries and absentees was laid bare in the 0-2 defeat to Atalanta on Wednesday evening. Jurgen Klopp’s team selection was a nod to the need to protect his key figures, and the new faces struggled to gel with one another – evidenced by the fact that the Reds failed to fire in a single shot on target.
My, how the sight of a Brazilian can warm the cockles…. Fabinho’s return ahead of schedule was exactly (and literally) what the doctor ordered for a beleaguered Jurgen Klopp, whose post-match rant against Sky and BT Sport is not without merits – once again this week, the Reds face three games in the space of seven days. It certainly feels as though the broadcasters are running the sport right now.