anfield crisis | 

Liverpool Q&A: What is going wrong at Anfield and how can Jurgen Klopp fix it?

Liverpool have had a horrible start to the season – what comes next?

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp during a press conference at Anfield. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire© PA

Carl MarkhamPA Media

Liverpool have had their worst start to a season since 2010 under the ill-fated, short reign of Roy Hodgson.

Here, we look at some of the reasons for the decline of a team which won a cup double last season, reached the Champions League final and was pipped to the Premier League title by a single point.

What has gone wrong for Jurgen Klopp?

There are several issues but first and foremost is an injury list which has not been brought under control. At one stage early in the season the number was into double figures, which undoubtedly impacted on a squad which lost more players than it gained in the summer. Klopp is currently without Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz, both of whom were the natural left-side replacements for the departed Sadio Mane.

Why did the manager not see this coming?

He sort of did, in that he wanted to sign France international Aurelien Tchouameni to bolster his midfield but lost out to Real Madrid. Klopp retains a strong interest in England midfielder Jude Bellingham but there was no hope of getting him out of Borussia Dortmund this summer.

He was also operating on the assumption he would not lose the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita and Curtis Jones – and to a lesser extent Jordan Henderson – from the start of the season.

So the root cause is in midfield?

There is no doubt the absence of key personnel, plus the over-playing of the remaining fit players, has dulled the influence of Liverpool’s engine room. The high-tempo pressing game is just not working and that has led to opposition sides being able to get at the defence more easily.

Is that not something which can be easily fixed?

If it were that simple Klopp would have done it already. Questions have also been asked about the form of the defence, with usual high-performers Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold coming under scrutiny for being well below their best. Things have not been helped by back-up Joe Gomez having a generally horrendous time apart from one stand-out display against Manchester City.

So what can be done?

Klopp has employed at least four different formations, having been forced to depart from his tried-and-trusted 4-3-3 due a lack of adequate personnel. He has gone through 4-2-3-1 to different incarnations of 4-4-2, but, just when it seems like he has stumbled on a solution, results like the defeats to Nottingham Forest and Leeds almost put him back to square one.

Where do Liverpool go from here?

Their best hope is, bizarrely considering Klopp’s opposition to it, the mid-season World Cup. While they will lose a number of players to the tournament in Qatar, the remainder will have a short break before heading to a training camp in nearby Dubai where they will be joined by team-mates as their nations get eliminated.

It will provide much-needed time to sort injury issues and work on ironing out their problems.

So are there any positives?

Liverpool qualified for the knockout stage of the Champions League with a match to spare, avoiding the need to get a result in what would have been a nail-biting final group match at home to unbeaten Serie A leaders Napoli, who are on a 13-match winning run.

Mohamed Salah, without being at his sensational best, has eight goals in his last 10 matches, while summer signing Darwin Nunez has four in his last six and has shown plenty of potential for growth. And goalkeeper Alisson Becker continues to excel.


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