Well yesterday’s football was all a bit of let down, wasn’t it? 210 minutes saw no goals and very little action. Well footballing action, at least. If you are into players getting injured and goalkeepers falling out with managers you probably had a great afternoon. But it would have been nice if someone would have kicked a ball in the goal at some point. Liverpool didn’t even really try to. Which is an issue if you want to win a game of football.
Liverpool have now played out two goalless draws in a row and have looked worryingly short of ideas against teams who have defended in numbers. The Reds have only managed to score more than one goal in a game twice in 2019, against Crystal Palace and Bournemouth at home. This time last year they were one of the most feared attacking teams in Europe. Now it all looks a little blunt.
So what has changed? Well, the focus of the team has obviously shifted. Liverpool have the best defensive record in the league, conceding just fifteen goals all season, but the extra solidity comes at a cost. It shouldn’t be this much of a cost though. Liverpool’s solidity gave them a platform to attack on Sunday, but the team just couldn’t produce.
The front three have obviously been in better form. Mane has been performing well recently but was poor at the weekend. Salah is an issue in that so much of his game is about goals and assists that when he can’t produce he seems a bit anonymous. Firmino contributes a lot but he is still in the team as a centre forward and hasn’t scored in his last five starts.
Although going off injured early didn’t help him on this occasion.
But the main issue is other players aren’t coming to the party to support them. It almost seems ridiculous criticising Mo Salah when he is still joint Premier League top scorer as well as having more assists than any other Liverpool player this year. He’s allowed a quiet game, as is Sadio Mane. It would help if they didn’t have them both on the same day, but it would also help massively if we could look a goal-scoring threat from other areas or other individuals.
Yesterday’s starting midfield three have just three goals between them all season. You might say the solution to this is to pick a less workman-like midfield, but the most obvious other contender, Naby Keita, has yet to score for Liverpool himself. When Firmino gets injured yesterday, Jurgen Klopp looks to his bench and sees one striker who has scored four times this season, and another who has netted twice. He went for Daniel Sturridge, but he looked miles off the required pace.
Contrast this with Manchester City’s alternative forward options, where Gabriel Jesus has got to 16 goals this season in all competitions, and Riyad Mahrez has got ten and ten assists. Their midfielders are weighing in with more too. David Silva has nine, Bernando Silva eight, Foden and Gundogan five each. Even their defenders are contributing more goals. Laporte has more than Van Djik, Gomez, Lovren and Matip combined.
Liverpool are still in a great position, top of the table with 11 games to go. But with games now coming thick and fast and pressure mounting we could really do with some more players coming into form and becoming a threat. It’s not fair or viable to put it all on so few shoulders. Watford on Wednesday. Who’s going to come to the party?