Wednesday turned out to be woeful for Liverpool football club. After being slapped with a two year academy transfer ban for breaching Premier League rules regarding a schoolboy from Stoke, Liverpool then learned that talisman, Sadio Mané’s season is almost certainly over.
The Senegalese may require surgery on damaged cartilage in his left knee, which has left Klopp with a massive gap to fill for the remainder of the season.
And to top it all off, the Reds were left deflated after conceding a customary, awful late goal against Bournemouth dropping two vital points in the process.
Jurgen Klopp claimed in his post-match press conference that the late equaliser on Wednesday night at Anfield almost made him “vomit”. You and everyone else, Jurgen.
As has been the case in the second-half of this season, Liverpool have managed to follow up a fantastic win with a result that sucks the joy out of football. Leicester followed Tottenham, Hull City followed Chelsea and Sunderland followed Manchester City, amongst others.
The elation of comfortably beating Everton in the Merseyside Derby was replaced with a feeling of disappointment and discontent at relinquishing the lead on Wednesday night, after initially coming back from a goal down.
Liverpool FC must surely be a registered charity by now; generously gifting goals to the opposition. Teams don’t even have to try when playing. The chances of Liverpool giving a sloppy goal away are remarkably high.
A mere seven minutes into the game, Wijnaldum was feeling particularly philanthropic when he played a nervous back pass intended for Mignolet, but Benik Afobe showed excellent awareness when he anticipated the Dutchman’s jittery movements. Afobe darted forward, leaving Klavan for dead, intercepted the pass and made his one chance count. A cool, calm finish saw the Cherries silence Anfield early on.
But if a reaction is what Jurgen Klopp is always talking about then that is exactly what he got. Especially from Wijnaldum, who played out of his skin to rectify his error. It was clear to see he was a man on a mission and did plenty to redeem himself.
A poorly Phillipe Coutinho scored Liverpool’s equaliser late in the first-half after Roberto Firmino played a lovely ball to his feet. The Brazilian timed his run perfectly and, although the ball was tangled up in his feet, he managed to somehow get a shot last Boruc into the net. Those magical, unicorn feet aren’t made for just the samba apparently!
The Reds went into the break with somewhat of the upper hand having clawed back Bournemouth’s lead. The fight back continued after the restart and it wasn’t long before Divock Origi fired Liverpool in front. That man, Gini, sent a glorious cross to the head of the Belgian, and he connected from close range to send Anfield wild.
It was a few moments later, Coutinho, who Klopp later revealed had been unwell before the game, had to be replaced.
It was the decision Klopp made that appeared to disrupt the team’s balance. Despite having Daniel Sturridge, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ben Woodburn and Alberto Moreno as potential attacking options, Klopp decided to bring on an “unfit” Joel Matip to play five at the back. “Unfit” because Klopp revealed that he didn’t start the game after having trouble tying his laces earlier in the day. It was decided he wasn’t fit to start hence Klavan took his spot.
The problem it created was that Liverpool invited pressure upon themselves, something which we all know is the defence’s Achilles heel. With only a 2-1 lead to defend, it seemed a strange decision to say the least. One which flummoxed many.
Liverpool’s natural game is to attack so to expect them to sit back and defend a slim lead seemed a little odd. Granted, it almost paid off but the Bournemouth onslaught was expected by many and it’s exactly what happened. An attacking sub may have secured the all important third goal. It may also have resulted in conceding two. Who knows? But shouldn’t playing to a team’s strengths be the first option? Klopp wouldn’t have received nearly as much criticism had he gone for the jugular. But to attempt a ploy that’s hardly ever succeeded against the lower teams, left much to question.
Three minutes from time, a throw-in led to a pinball machine impression in Liverpool’s box and the decisive touch came from Josh King who easily dodged a completely baffled Klavan.
Some called it a fluke or unlucky, but the reality is that this is what happens more often than not when Liverpool play. There are only so many times a fluke is possible. After the first thirty times, it’s no longer unfortunate circumstances but poor judgement, lack of quality, no mental strength, confidence issues or all of the above. Debates will rage on as to which one, although it seems it’s a combination of all of them.
In the meantime, Liverpool succumbed again, like so many times before. Their Champions League qualification chances are no way over, but results like this certainly won’t help the morale especially with the run in that awaits:
Stoke (a), West Brom (a), Crystal Palace (h), Watford (a), Southampton (h), West Ham (a) and Middlesbrough (h) may seem like a dream but the opposite is the case with Liverpool. In fact, it couldn’t be more testing. Key injuries (Henderson, Lallana, Mane) and the lack of January transfer activity have hampered team selection, but top four is still very much in Liverpool’s own hands despite Wednesday night.
But Jurgen Klopp has a huge task on his hands in motivating this crop of players to play like their very best in the remaining games. A little less charity and lot more grit please, Liverpool.