It’s safe to say that last night’s game between two of the most successful clubs in the history of English football didn’t live up to the hype. And while Manchester United fans will see the 0-0 draw as a point gained, Liverpool supporters will almost certainly see it as two dropped in their quest to win the title.
Here’s three things we feel could potentially be constant thorns in the Reds’ campaign…
Safe hands between the sticks
It’s often said that you can’t win the league without a world-class goalkeeper. And in truth, that’s something which this Liverpool side is lacking.
Though Klopp has experimented with both Lorius Karius and Simon Mignolet this season, both have at least one mistake in their game, and neither looks like a confident presence behind a makeshift back-four which have conceded in all seven of their previous league games prior to last night.
Granted, Karius kept a clean sheet last night against the Red Devils, but it could have been much different had Paul Pogba have capitalised on a loose pass from the shot-stopper.
His decision making is also questionable, as the 23-year-old seemed hesitant on a number of occasions to come off his line to collect balls coming into the box from out wide.
The jury remains out on the young German, and it might not be long before Klopp turns to Mignolet again.
Last night was just the fourth time that Liverpool’s defensive line have all played together, while the match marked the first time this season that Klopp fielded the same back-four for two successive games.
While they may boast one of the best attacking units in the Premier League, there’s no questioning the uncertainty around Liverpool’s defence right now.
In fact, last night’s clean sheet was the Reds’ first of the season, and only their ninth since the former Borussia Dortmund manager took over at Anfield.
For all his versatility, this is the first season in which we’ve heard the words ‘James Milner’ and ‘left-back’ in the same sentence. And while it seems as though anyone is a more suitable option than Alberto Moreno to fill that position at the moment, it can only be a matter of time before Milner’s inexperience in the position gets exploited.
Klopp’s Gegenpressing style requires constant running and closing down from his attacking players. And up to this point he’s got exactly what he’s asked for from the likes of Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho, with his side leading the way in the division in terms of ground covered.
But the Premier League is a marathon, not a sprint. And while that sounds right up Klopp’s street, it’s a huge ask for this side to maintain such levels of fitness throughout the course of the season.
We already saw glimpses last night of the potential damage this approach could have on the physical condition of the squad in the long run, as both Coutinho and Roberto Firmino pulled up with cramp mid-way through the second half.
Granted, they were away on international duty last week. But how will the side deal with the fixture congestion during the winter period? They certainly struggled last year, picking up just eight points from a possible 24 between December 6 – January 17.
So was last night’s stalemate against United a minor blip in an otherwise incredible start? Or could it spark a downward spiral? Have your say in the comments section below!
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