Paul Stafford explains how Liverpool are the only ones to blame for any blips in performance.
Liverpool dropped two more points dropped in their bid for a title challenge! Liverpool were winning the match with just over 10 minutes to go, only to give up a second penalty and drop two more vital points by throwing away yet another game in a match they should have won. To be champions, Liverpool should be beating teams like this. Granted, they were tired from playing Manchester City less than 48 hours before, but to be champions, they must dig deep to find that extra something to win!
Their failure to close out games like this and grind out a result after playing so brilliantly against City and Stoke shows that they are the architects of their own destruction. It didn’t help to have a referee from Manchester, who, in my opinion, awarded a penalty that shouldn’t have been and a soft free kick that led to a second after Lucas gently touched Defoe on the shin (in which he went down like he’d been pole-axed), but they should still have enough in their tank to beat a struggling Sunderland side.
The two points dropped occurred when Lucas was brought on for the injured Daniel Sturridge. Predictably, Lucas gave away another free-kick in a dangerous position with a trademark mistimed challenge, resulting in Mane instinctively sticking out a hand to block the shot. Will Klopp ever learn that Lucas is the wrong option to bring on? All he needs to do is watch video footage of his Liverpool career to see how many times Lucas has done this in the past.
Lucas is past his best, if he ever had a best, and needs to be moved on. I have lost count of how many times that Lucas has cost the Reds points throughout the years by giving up a free kick just outside of the box with his late challenges! He is a set-piece waiting to happen and it is well-documented that Liverpool cannot defend set-pieces!
I cringed when I saw him coming on because I know what he is capable of doing. I knew he would give up a free kick in a dangerous area and that Sunderland would have another opportunity to score.
Kevin Stewart is unproven at this level, but he might have been a better option due to the fact that he is younger and able to react quicker. And if Klopp keeps Lucas as a backup option at centre-back instead of opting to purchase one in January, he will cost them more points and it will be Klopp who is at fault!
I think Joe Gomez will do well there when he is fit, but it will take him a long time to get up to speed. In the meantime, Lucas filling in at centre-half is just wrong! If he doesn’t mistime that challenge, there is no free kick, and if there’s no free kick there is no penalty; no penalty-no goal!
Liverpool do have a ready-made replacement who may be up to the task, but he has been banished to the reserves! At this point, Klopp either needs to bring Sakho back, or buy another center half in this transfer window. Opting for Lucas anywhere on the pitch is the wrong choice! They held on to Martin Skrtel for too long and they paid the price – now they must let Lucas go.