John Gibbons: Are Liverpool starting to look a bit rigid and predictable?

No need to push the panic button, but Liverpool's attack looks worryingly blunt, according to The Anfield Wrap writer...


What happened to all the goals? Liverpool v Manchester City was meant to be all about entertainment. Some of the best attacking players going toe to toe, trading blows like Conor McGregor and half of Dagestan. Instead we got a positive snooze fest. I bet Sky were fuming.

Maybe we should a have expected a cagey affair. As Pep Guardiola pointed out after the game, attacking Liverpool at Anfield hadn’t gone very well for them in the past, so a change in approach was probably sensible.

From Liverpool’s point of view, City came after a tough run of fixtures where, from an attacking point of view, they just hadn’t clicked. It feels like ages ago that someone other than Daniel Sturridge scored, and he doesn’t even start. Expecting everything to suddenly look great again against the Champions was probably a bit much.

So we got a nil-nil that each side probably would have taken after 20 minutes and both teams remain unbeaten, with 20 points from eight games. Along with Chelsea, who refuse to go away despite me really wanting them to, and two points head of Arsenal and Spurs, who seem to have won loads of games without anyone noticing. It’s only really Manchester United of the big clubs letting the side down. Which is a real shame. But even they won at the weekend, eventually, so onwards and upwards, eh lads?

That Liverpool are in this position is a great achievement after a start so tough that it was spoken about in hushed tones. That it has been reached based on a miserly defence is very unexpected. Liverpool have conceded just three goals this season, and nothing at home in the league since February. Teams aren’t just failing to score against Liverpool but struggling to create anything at all. And when they do they are faced with a massive grock in goal who loves saving stuff. We are very hard to play against indeed.

But, but, but, you can’t help but worry a bit about the lads who are meant to be kicking it in the goal. One of the benefits of playing good teams is that they do tend to attack a bit, which leaves some space at the back. If Manchester City were happy enough to take a point against Liverpool, then the next set of teams we are set to play will bite your hand off.

Napoli and Manchester City have shown how it’s possible to frustrate Liverpool, close off passing lanes, and make the game tough. Huddersfield and Cardiff might not have the same quality, meaning we are less likely to get hit with the suckerpunch like we did last week and nearly did again at the weekend, but they’ll likely follow the blueprint defensively.

Last year I would have said “so what, we’ll find a way” but this year you aren’t quite as confident. With the swagger gone out of the Liverpool front line, and not enough coming attacking wise from those behind them, are Liverpool actually starting to look a bit rigid and predictable?

Klopp has suggested a few more formation changes over the next few weeks, and getting another attacking player on the pitch might be a solution to Liverpool’s current bluntness. Using a few different players might add a bit of freshness too, and help a few tired legs.

Quite how we are tired in October, I don’t know. But anyway.

This is all a bit negative for a team on 20 points from 8 games, though, isn’t it? I didn’t mean to be when I started. I just think anyone expecting this next run of fixtures to be easy might be in for a shock. They bring new challenges and the need for a different approach. Hopefully we can smash someone early and get everyone’s confidence back. Huddersfield are first. Wagner is Klopp’s mate isn’t he? Do us a favour lad. Roll over and let us start this next section with a bang. I really really really want to win the league, you know.

Liverpool are 5/2 to win the 2018-19 Premier League

What do you think?