The narrative is the same, regardless of the medium you find it on. Liverpool, at some stage, this year, could have gone 10 points clear at the top of the table.
Okay. Maybe asking for a ten-point gap was too much.
They had the chance to go six, seven points clear at the top. The opportunity to create (and most importantly, maintain) an unassailable lead was there for the taking. With the league’s top goal scorer, a fierce and aggressive Mane, the game-changing Virgil Van Dijk, the fans had begun dreaming of a first Premier League title.
That was just a few weeks ago. Take a quick glance at the Premier League table. Make sure to come back and enjoy the rest of this piece.
Manchester City, albeit with one more game played, are now back to the top of the table. The narrative has all of a sudden changed. The once buoyant ‘Never Walk Alone’ crooners are now using maybe, it is possible in conversations about winning the PL title.
The Beginning of the Liverpool Slide
For the first time in the league this season, Liverpool conceded three goals in the game against Crystal Palace. The Reds had gone the entire first half of the season without conceding more than once. They were that dominant.
Switch over to the second half of the season. They conceded two goals for the first time in the league against Manchester City. A win over Brighton was quickly followed by a 4-3 win over Crystal Palace. All talks surrounding the win over Crystal Palace was filled with praise for Jurgen Klopp’s men and how they played like potential league champions.
In short sha, the whole world made Mohamed Salah and co. think grinding out a result against Crystal Palace was the kind teams that want to win the league produce on a consistent basis.
Actually, that’s the truth. To win a league as fiercely contested as the Premier League, you need a lot. But most important, you need to CONSISTENTLY come up with the goods when it really matters.
And this is the part that the Reds have ignored since that seven-goal thriller at Anfield. Klopp’s men have since played two games, against Leicester and West Ham. And out of a possible six points, they’ve lost four precious points.
Up next for Liverpool is a home game against Bournemouth. Their reign at the top of the table is under serious threat. The one game they have in hand gives them some sort of advantage going into this game. There’s also the small issue of an incredible home form in the league this season.
However, there’s no denying that a few things will be ongoing in the Liverpool locker room leading to this game. The training sessions may look normal. But behind the scenes, you can bet that these four things are happening
Throwing away a lead that large is enough reason to panic. It doesn’t take too long for the doubts to appear in situations like these. The manager may have to deal with boosting the players’ confidence and their self-belief.
You can be sure that a part of the Liverpool set up is in panic. You can smell the panic that Jurgen Klopp is about to blow yet another chance to win a trophy. They’re definitely panicking about what will happen if Bournemouth proves too stubborn to defeat. They’re looking back on the last decade and panicking as to whether or not history will repeat itself.
2. Mo Salah’s Poor Form
The Egyptian King is the leading scorer in the Premier League this season. His 16 goals is the best tally any player has managed so far. Nevertheless, Salah’s recent form will be a major source of concern for his fellow players, manager and fans alike.
Salah managed two goals against Crystal Palace. That was the last time he found the back of the net. Two games on, he has not scored a goal. In the last 470 minutes he has played, he has scored just three goals. That’s an average of a goal every 123 minutes.
If you were a manager, you’d certainly be worried about this dip in form of your most prolific talisman, right?
3. Blame Game?
“Why did he sell Clyne?”
Since Liverpool’s injury list grew in length, the fans have come out in one voice to put Jurgen to the sword. Alexander-Arnold Trent, Georginio Wijnaldum, Dejan Lovren, and Joe Gomez have all suffered one degree of injury or the other.
— ⏳ (@Indritii_) February 4, 2019
Klopp (the master of dishing out hugs and kisses, followed by Pep Guardiola) has had to improvise. And while this has worked to an extent, the fans are still blaming the German for letting Nathaniel Clyne leave the club this winter transfer window. He would have provided sufficient cover for the defensive lapses that now exist.
They’ve been under pressure since they climbed to the zenith. City’s relentlessness, especially in that 2-1 win over them has piled on the pressure. Now that they’ve drawn level, the pressure has tripled.
And as it stands, the Reds look like they may slip up under the pressure.
In all honesty, it’ll be a disaster for the Reds to endure yet another season without winning the Premier League. Just consider how much Jurgen Klopp sacrificed for this title chase. They got knocked out of both the EFL Cup and the FA Cup effortlessly.
At the time, this was understandable. In hindsight, Liverpool fans and players may rue the decision. Of course, there’s still all to play for in the UEFA Champions League. However, with each passing game, you feel Liverpool caving under the pressure.
They have all it takes to win this league. They just need to stand up and be counted! And they have to pray very hard or else…
IT’LL BE A VERY LONG SUMMER! 😀
PS: So, what do you think of what you just read? Do you think I’ve perfectly described what’s going on at Liverpool? Or do you think I’m just being overly dramatic with the whole thing (who be this guy? Wetin e dey talk sef?)
Share your thoughts with me by dropping your comments and let’s have a football discussion. It’ll mean the world to me.
Author: Rotimi “Papi the Great” Daramola
Rotimi Daramola aka Papi the Great is the owner of ForTheGoal.
A freelance sports writer who focuses on football, Rotimi is also a freelance writer, a copywriter and a football analyst who regularly appears on radio and television to talk football. You can follow him on twitter @papi_thegreat to keep up with his writings, engage him and also find out about how you can secure his writing services.