A center-back decision must be made
An unprecedented star-studded season has already thrown a slew of statistical anomalies for Liverpool.
But one here emerged that highlighted the reason for the blatant lack of consistency of the latter term.
This was the first time Jurgen Klopp Set the starting line-up that has not changed since the Premier League liftoff in an unforgettable way.
The Champions League victory over RB Leipzig in Budapest had at least halted corruption after three successive defeats virtually ended hopes of defending the tournament.
Klopp’s show of confidence meant that there was another outing for the center-back from Jordan Henderson and the new signing of Ozan Kabak.
It all lasted 30 minutes before Henderson, in conflict with Abdullah Dukuri, Pulled out a lamer with a groin problem, Leaving Liverpool without a major center back and two defensive midfielders.
No team can handle that.
What didn’t help him was that Kabak was having a nightmare in the first half. While he was by no means the only player to suffer from the whirling wind, his unnecessary conceding a corner kick in the opening seconds set the tone, and managed to grab attention in Richarlison’s opening game moments later.
Interestingly, it improved – and so did Liverpool as a whole – once Nat Phillips replaced the doomed Henderson, calmly affirming the alternative.
Who do you know. Playing with two recognized center backs may be the way forward for the rest of the season for the Reds.
Van Dijk offers a wrenching reminder
If the presence of Virgil van Dijk on the sidelines should provide a reminder of what happened the last time Liverpool and Everton met, it has instead served to emphasize a problem now weakening the Reds to an alarming degree.
Yes, he missed Van Dijk badly for his defensive qualities. As the best player in the world in his position, this is not a surprise.
But the place where the Dutchman feels his absence is also as a leader. And Liverpool lacks them now.
When Commander Jordan Henderson left, he was joined by Deputy Commander James Milner and Commander “III” Van Dyck on the sidelines.
In times of crisis – and let’s not control it here, Liverpool are deep, deep in one – such characters are the ones the team turns into.
They cannot count on Anfield’s support, and the Reds are stripped of one of their continuing advantages in these matches.
Liverpool need others to step up. Here Klopp managed to get some real cheer from the evening, as Trent Alexander-Arnold took it upon himself to shoulder the burden of responsibility with an impressive performance.
The Reds need more of that because there are no knights coming, either in the stands or from the treatment room.
Klopp is happy to see the return of the Blues
Juergen Klopp has not lost the derby this season.
Now he should definitely be happy that he won’t have to cross swords with Everton again until the next semester.
As was feared at the time, the Goodison meeting in October had a long-lasting impact on Liverpool’s ability to defend their title.
It has also proven to be a microcosm of what happens to the Reds, with injuries, arguments over VGA, and conceding some avoidable goals.
Four months later, little has obviously changed.
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With Jordan Pickford damaging Liverpool in a more acceptable way – a brilliant response from Jordan Henderson in the first half and followed by a brave blocking of Mohamed Salah’s denial after the first half – the Reds were in the spotlight that is arguably the most persistent concern.
Liverpool may have been better going forward, but they still haven’t scored a single goal from open play at Anfield since 27 December.
Rediscovering the touch of scoring at home is the Reds’ most immediate goal.
Ensuring that another derby disappointment is never allowed again in shaping their season is definitely something else.