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comment No more excuses: Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp only have themselves to blame for poor season

Liverpool have been imploding amid a sorry story that has not been helped by injuries to big players


Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists they cannot complain about their league finish this season (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists they cannot complain about their league finish this season (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists they cannot complain about their league finish this season (Isabel Infantes/PA)

PLENTY of Liverpool fans were moaning as Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer picked a second-string team to play Leicester on Tuesday night, but I think they were missing the point.

Liverpool travel to Old Trafford for the re-scheduled Premier League game on Thursday night with their hopes of a top-four finish hanging by a thread after Leicester’s win against United took them a giant step closer to qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Yet Liverpool cannot point an accusing finger at Solskjaer or United and grumble that they are getting a raw deal or moan that the playing field is uneven.

No, this is a story of a Liverpool side that has failed to perform too often this season, lost six successive games at Anfield and find themselves in a poor position with four games left to play.

Of course, it would have been great for Liverpool if Solskjaer had played his first-choice line-up and taken points away from a Leicester side that is one of Liverpool’s primary challengers for a top-four finish, the other being Chelsea, of course.

Yet the fact that Liverpool are relying on Manchester United (of all teams!) to give them a chance of qualifying for the Champions League highlights the bigger issue here.

This was not a United manager thinking he could stitch up Liverpool by putting out his reserves and making sure they don’t play in Europe’s biggest competition next season.

Solskjaer probably doesn’t care whether Liverpool are in the Champions League or not as his priority has to be Manchester United and having played a game at Aston Villa on Sunday, he needed to shake his team up for the Leicester game.

Maybe he took things to an extreme level with the ten changes he made and some of the youngsters who started, but Leicester still had to win the game and if they get a top-four finish in the final analysis, good luck to them.

Brendan Rodgers and his Leicester players have been magnificent this season, punching above their weight and establishing themselves in the top four throughout the campaign.

Meanwhile, Liverpool have been imploding amid a sorry story that has not been helped by injuries to big players and the absence of the influential Anfield crowd.

Yet they are all just excuses because this Liverpool team will only have themselves to blame if they are playing Europa League football in September.

The most recent game against Southampton last Saturday highlighted once again the problem that has undermined their efforts in 2021 and it has not been down to the absence of Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez in defence.

The big issue now is at the other end of the field, as Liverpool have created enough chances to win games by wide margins that they have ended up drawing or losing.

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Carving out clear-cut chances has not been a problem for Klopp’s side, but the attacking players in the team have failed to take the opportunities that have come their way and it has cost them dearly.

Mohamed Salah may have scored 20 Premier League goals this season, but he has missed as many gilt-edged chances to double that tally. Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane have also missed many goal scoring opportunities and Roberto Firmino has scored just 15 goals in his last 72 Premier League appearances, which is not enough for a lead striker in a Liverpool team.

Against a United side that has done well against Liverpool in recent times, the attacking players in Klopp’s line-up must take their chances this evening or they will be punished at the other end.

Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips are likely to play in the centre of the defence and United’s full strength forward line will give them problems, so goals will be required for Liverpool and Klopp can’t rely on his forwards to deliver.

Over the previous two seasons, Liverpool were clinical in front of goal and the rewards flowed their way as they became a winning machine that claimed Champions League and Premier League glory.

Now, there is uncertainty at the cutting edge of the team and it is a problem Klopp needs to solve with the signing of a new striker this summer to shake things up.

Being in the Europa League will hinder Liverpool’s ability to attract top players, but they can’t give up on that target until it is out of reach.

Klopp’s team has not played well at Old Trafford for some time, so they need to go out and make a statement that they are still up for this fight.

The reality may be that much of the stuffing has been knocked out of them by the events of the last few months and it wouldn’t surprise me if they come up short on Thursday night.

Like most Liverpool fans, they could be forgiven for wanting this miserable season to end as it has long since become agony watching this team losing its way.

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