Liverpool’s Struggles Against Bottom Half Teams

Liverpool have had an interesting season thus far. They have dropped the least amount of points in the top 5 against the top 6 with only 9 points. However, they have also dropped the most amount of points against teams outside the top 6, earning them the nickname of the “Robin Hood” of the league. So what’s going on with the Reds?

After going top in November, Liverpool looked like the best team in the league, as their press and  play up front was magnificent. But after Coutinho’s injury vs Sunderland, things started to go downhill. 2 weeks later they suffered their first loss in 4 months against Bournemouth. But after huge wins vs Everton and Manchester City, things once again looked good for the reds.

A normal routine trip to Sunderland ended in a dissapointing scoreline of 2-2. It didn’t seem bad at first, but then Sadio Mané left for AFCON, which was followed by losses to Swansea, Hull, Wolves, and Southampton. This disastrous form was emphasized by being forced into a replay by 4th division Plymouth Argyle. They then crashed out of of 2 cup competitions in the span of 72 hours. They did manage 1-1 draws vs Manchester United and Chelsea, but then again Liverpool just don’t lose to the top 6.

The bad spell seemed to be over after a convincing 2-0 vs Spurs. FA cup weekend followed and since they weren’t in the competition, they went and had a “mini pre-season” in La Manga Spain and a 16 day break. Things looked on the Up again for the Reds. But a 3-1 Loss to a bottom three side in Leicester brought the reds fans back down to earth, and left questions being asked about Klopp.

Now, Liverpool have been unlucky with the timing of their games – they often find themselves up against bottom half sides that are actually in really good form, whether they are motivated by the threat of losing their starting role, manager sackings, pressure from the relegation battle, or who knows what.

However, in my opinion, the biggest issue is that Liverpool have no plan B. Against the teams lower in the table and the leagues, Liverpool could only pass side-to-side not creating many chances. Which then resulted with a counter attack and a goal for the opposition (which isn’t hard to do against Liverpool). It’s been the same for the past 2 months and I think Klopp is too stubborn to try and change anything. We saw the 4-2-3-1 work for Liverpool last season which could definitely be an option. He could also go for a more defensively sound formation against bottom half teams, as Liverpool have one of the worst back lines in the league (often consisting of up to 2 midfielders at a time). If nothing changes for Liverpool vs these “lesser opponents”, and Liverpool somehow manage to slip outside the top 6 (they are only 5 points above 7th placed Everton), I think Klopp will have to buy an entire back line in the summer(which I think he should do regardless), or might even get the sack.

But I think it’s more of the players are at fault than Klopp. Yesterday, Leicester took their 6th or 7th long throw of the game. Let’s just say you’re a goalkeeper, and every single throw has come inside your box, wouldn’t you go and start claiming them? Not in the case of the league’s worst thinker and distributor Simon Mignolet. He was glued to the line for every throw, which led to Leicesters 2nd goal.

Phillipe Coutinho hasn’t found his feet since his return from injury, although he did resume his scoring yesterday. Firmino just hasn’t played well in 2017 ( 1 exception being the Spurs game). Wijnaldum couldn’t complete a pass yesterday, and the midfield looked lost without Henderson to lead them.  Clyne hasn’t impressed me; he struggles to get in crosses, was beat for speed (which is supposed to be his strength) by Christian Fuchs, and doesn’t make the right decisions in the final third. In fact, none of the players have been making the right decisions in the final third since Origi scored 5 goals in 5 games in Coutinho’s absence.

I think Liverpool can definitely finish top 4 but only if they don’t lose in their next 12 games. Personally, I think Liverpool and Klopp should drop some players like out of form Firmino and Clyne for youngsters Woodburn and Alexander Arnold. This is a proven method as many players return to form after being dropped. Origi is out of form and isn’t starting, so this is Woodburn’s time to shine.

One thing Liverpool fans can be somewhat optimistic about is that their next fixture is against Arsenal, who happen to be a top 6 side. If the form of this season continues, Liverpool could be looking to pick up the full three points.

Vote above and let us know what you think in the comments!

Author: Kieran

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