Liverpool have had a disappointing start to the season as Jurgen Klopp’s side are languishing in ninth place, below both Fulham and Brighton after back-to-back Premier League defeats to Nottingham Forest and Leeds. The Reds are eight points off fourth-placed Newcastle, and as the battle for top four heats up, Klopp’s side still have clear issues they need to fix. Liverpool have four games left before the World Cup, including two in the league, and Express Sport has looked at four problems that need fixing for Klopp’s side to turn their season around.
Conceding the first goal
In Liverpool’s previous 16 league games, they have conceded the first goal on 12 occasions, with five of those goals coming within the first four minutes. The early goals are forcing the Reds to mount a comeback and score twice in each game in order to get three points, and while the attack is not firing on all cylinders it is becoming a difficult issue to overcome.
Whether it due to is a lack of focus or intensity remains to be seen, but Liverpool need to cut out conceding the first goal in the majority of games as they already need to overcome an eight-point gap between them and fourth-placed Newcastle in order to qualify for the Champions League, should they not win this year’s competition.
No intensity in midfield
Former Liverpool midfielder Graeme Souness has been just one of several pundits to question the Reds’ trademark intense midfield after the 2-1 defeat to Leeds. “Liverpool are a country mile from what they were in the last few years,” Souness told Sky Sports.
“They don’t play with the same intensity. I think in many instances tonight, Leeds were more than a match for what Liverpool have been doing to teams for years. Liverpool used to bully teams, their midfield bullied teams. And now they’re being bullied.”
Liverpool have moved away from the 4-3-3 shape that has brought them success under Klopp following injuries to Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota, and also to accommodate new striker Darwin Nunez, and it has forced them to have fewer bodies in midfield and Thiago and Fabinho have often been overrun.
The head coach himself cannot be immune to criticism despite the issues plaguing his squad, as the German boss has made strange decisions at times including with his substitutions. Despite chasing the game against Leeds, Klopp decided to take Trent Alexander-Arnold off for James Milner, despite the England international having a strong game and was a threat going forward.
It is not the first time he has taken the creative full-back off when needing a goal, he did so in the Merseyside derby that finished 0-0. Klopp has also struggled to find a system that gets the best out of his players, having moved away from the 4-3-3 shape he has tried 4-4-2 and a diamond system, but has failed to get the necessary results with either and Klopp must find a system that ensures his side can turn their season around.