Joseph Kavaloski explains why supporters don’t have anything to fear after Liverpool’s abysmal defensive showing against Bournemouth.
Liverpool’s late game collapse against Bournemouth has unfortunately caused a storm of fans worrying that last season’s inability to close out matches has returned, however, this is clearly an overreaction as it is obvious that this team is far different than the ones from seasons past.
Purely from a results perspective, Liverpool is leaps and bounds ahead of where they were at this time the past two years. So far this season, the Reds have a 13-3-2 record. Last season, they were 10-8-3 and the season before the Reds were 8-3-9.
The difference between the record from this year to that of the past two is perhaps the clearest sign of why fans should not be concerned. Liverpool has won a number of close matches in which the team has had to close out matches they were narrowly ahead in. If fans take into account the multiple one score matches in which the Reds have won this year, it is obvious that Bournemouth is far more of an aberration than a trend.
Furthermore, Philippe Coutinho may be out injured, but that is not hindering the Reds’ ability to score. Since the Brazilian went off against Sunderland, Liverpool has scored seven goals in three matches. Especially when considering that the Reds seriously took their foot off the pedal after going up 2-0 against the Cherries, the concern surrounding Liverpool’s inability to score dramatically decreases.
Even if the Reds are unable to have their five or six-goal outbursts without Coutinho, the team still has plenty of firepower. Divock Origi was Jurgen Klopp’s first choice striker for a good chunk of last season and has continued his fine form this year with three goals in as many matches. And that is without even mentioning the tremendous talent of Daniel Sturridge.
A front three of Roberto Firmino, Origi, and Sadio Mane is one of the most dangerous groups in the league. Removing Coutinho certainly takes some creativity out of the side, but the Reds can still score goals at will without him. Plus, the little Brazilian should be back by the start of next month, further limiting the damage his absence could create.
Although the progression of the defence continues to lag behind that of the front three, there were clear signs that the back line was improving prior to Bournemouth. Three clean sheets in a row accompanied by a number of solid defensive performances before that had many Liverpool fans believing that the team’s issues in that area of the pitch were beginning to resolve themselves.
One poor result should not dismiss the fact that the Reds had only conceded nine goals in eleven league matches since losing 2-0 to Burnley. Joel Matip had been a mainstay during this eleven match period, making the side’s capitulation on Sunday without the Cameroon international a little less surprising.
Those factors aside, concerns still linger that the Reds are on the brink of falling out of title contention and even top four contention, however, these feelings are a perfect example of an overreaction.
At this point, it is fair to say that the Reds have one of the best starting elevens in the Premier League (if not the best). On their day, the Reds can absolutely demolish any team in England. When the entire first team is fit and Klopp can roll out his preferred eleven players, there is no team in England that would be favoured to beat Liverpool.
Injuries are part of the game and it is unlikely Klopp will be able to call upon his best eleven players for quite a while, but even with two injury replacements, the Reds are clearly one of the best three teams in the league. One bad match does not change this fact.
After the disappointment of the past two seasons, perhaps it is not surprising that many fans are becoming concerned after blowing a two-goal lead in fifteen minutes. The Reds have made it a habit of collapsing against mid-table sides and this was just the most recent example.
However, there are far more reasons why this is simply a one match issue rather than a true problem for the team. From Liverpool’s ability to stay undefeated for about three and a half months to the pure talent in the first team squad, there is little reason to expect the team to revert back to mediocrity.
The Reds are not perfect and may not have the consistency and squad depth to win the title this season, but expecting a fall out of the top four or even top two or three is overly pessimistic. As the season grows older and Arsenal and Manchester City are forced to face mid-week, high-pressure Champions League knockout matches, Liverpool will only gain a bigger advantage against those two sides.
Finally, the team has also played three of the toughest matches of the season. Taking seven of nine possible points away to Arsenal, Chelsea, and Spurs is no easy feat. Those are three of the five toughest matches the Reds will play all season and they have already gotten them out of the way (and been successful in the process).
Although a terrible collapse against a mid-table side is never enjoyable for the fans, Liverpool’s rich vein of form was never going to last forever. Matches like this do happen during the course of a long season and this result surely will not decide who qualifies for the Champions League or who finishes the season at the top of the table.
There are simply too many reasons why this match was an aberration for Liverpool. From the tremendous array of talent to the team’s success in similar matches throughout the season to even the factor of having a world class coach, the Reds have a lot going for them. Liverpool fans need to remember that it is a long season and their team will be just fine.