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Liverpool end crisis talk but the problems exposed of the last month remain

Bournemouth battering great for morale but mane things still must be sorted out

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hugs Fabio Carvalho at the end of the Premier League match at Anfield. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.© PA

John AldridgeSunday World

WE needed to see a reaction from Liverpool yesterday and they delivered in the grand manner.

Crisis? That is not a word we have associated with Jurgen Klopp and his team too often over the last few years.

Yet they had questions to answer as they took to the field against Bournemouth yesterday.

Well, they answered all the doubters in emphatic fashion by exploding out of the blocks and moving into a 5-0 lead at half-time.

After the nightmare that was the 2-1 defeat against Manchester United on Monday night, this is what we needed to see from Liverpool, but let’s keep perspective here.

We didn’t need to get carried away when they didn’t win their first three games of the season, even though the critics seemed to take an unhealthy delight in the disappointment for Klopp and his team.

Now the real Liverpool may be about to re-emerge, but the problems that have been exposed over the last month have not disappeared overnight.

The exit of Sadio Mane was always going to be a problem for Liverpool as he has been such an important player for the team over the last few years.

He was a perfect player for Klopp’s forward line and while they have been working to replace him for some time with the signings of Diogo Jota and Darwin Nunez, Mane was always going to be missed.

The absence of Jota, Nunez and a full team of players due to injuries and suspensions contributed to Liverpool’s problems.

Then you throw in the reality that they had two weeks less preparation time than their Premier League rivals as they played in the Champions League final in late May and this season started earlier than usual because of the winter World Cup.

All of these factors continued to an uncertain start from Liverpool and when you look at the statistics from the United game last Monday, they confirm Klopp’s team dominated possession and had more shots than their opponents.

Statistics are taken way too seriously in the modern game, but Liverpool could take something from the numbers that came from their miserable night at Old Trafford so long as they got back to winning ways against Bournemouth.

Roberto Firmino sticks the fourth goal past keeper Mark Travers© PA

The biggest concern for me last Monday was the reality that Manchester United were a little more desperate for the win than Liverpool – and the fact that I am even writing those words sets alarm bells ringing.

Hunger and desire are two words that United team have not shown in years, so the fact that they outworked Liverpool in key areas meant a response was needed.

And from the first minute yesterday, you could see they were at it.

They were snapping into tackles, they were going for it with a real ruthless mentality and as the score moved to 2-0 with a brilliant goal from Harvey Elliott, it was a case of damage limitation for Bournemouth.

Not since 1958 have Liverpool led 5-0 at half-time in a league game at Anfield and you had to have some sympathy for poor Bournemouth.

The gulf in class between the two sides was clear from the off, with the quality of delivery from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson in wide areas giving Bournemouth nightmare.

It was great to see Virgil van Dijk getting on the scoresheet and we need to see more of that from the big man as he is tough to defend against when he rises in the box.

I’ve been saying for some time that we need to see more goals from players other than Mo Salah and the forwards – and we got that yesterday, so the season is finally under way.

A general view of the scoreboard during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. Picture date: Saturday August 27, 2022.© PA

When you look at the injury list and realise Liverpool still have Joel Matip, Ibrahima Konate, Thiago, Jota and Nunez to come back in, it’s clear that this ‘crisis’ is not as big as some have suggested.

It looks like Liverpool will also sign another midfielder ahead of next Thursday’s transfer deadline and I hope that player does not stunt the progress of Elliott, who I believe is ready to become a first-team regular.

Nunez and Jota will also give Liverpool a very different type of cutting edge in the final third and they will need to get players back for a tricky run of games over the next few weeks.

Newcastle are next up for Liverpool in the Premier League at Anfield on Wednesday night and that’s followed by the derby at Goodison Park and a tricky Champions League away game at Napoli. And a trip to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge is also on the horizon next month.

This rout against Bournemouth was essential and the scale of it will obviously boost confidence and belief for all concerned, but so much more needs to come from this Liverpool side.


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