Paul Merson has made a bizarre suggestion that Liverpool should ‘park the bus’ against Manchester City this afternoon, as Jurgen Klopp and his team are supposedly at risk of falling outside the top-four.
The former Arsenal man has voiced his concerns over Liverpool’s recent struggles, amid a four-match winless run at Anfield.
The English champions currently trail league leaders City by seven points in the league, despite having played a game more.
Liverpool welcome Pep Guardiola and his team to Anfield off the back of consecutive home defeats to Burnley and Brighton.
Meanwhile, City make the trip to their north-west rivals amid a nine-match Premier League-winning streak – a run that has seen them concede just one goal.
And as a result, Merson has claimed that Klopp should take a cautious approach when City come to town this afternoon.
“Liverpool might have to park the bus against Manchester City – and are now in danger of missing out on the top four,” said Merson in his latest Daily Star column.
“The fear factor has well and truly gone and they’ve just lost at home to Brighton and Burnley.
“I’m not sure about Liverpool now. They are in trouble. They are starting to become a team that has to be a full pelt to win football matches.
“The last couple of years they have managed to win sometimes without playing well. But if they play badly now they lose.
“If they beat City somehow this weekend they could be back in the title race. It’s that tight up there. But will they?
“I think we might see Liverpool park the bus and play on the counter-attack. If they don’t, they could end up getting a hiding from City.
“Liverpool are 100 per cent in danger of missing out on the top four the way they are going – and City are flying.
“Liverpool have got to be careful now. They are losing matches you don’t expect them to, and the teams around them are winning.
“Jurgen Klopp said recently that top four was the aim, but with their form at home at the moment, with no fans inside Anfield, there’s a real danger they miss out.”
What RTK has to say
Indeed, we can see can see what Merson is trying to say. The problem is he has chosen to overlook a number of factors while making his claim.
For one, Liverpool’s recent defeat at the hands of Brighton came during another crushing week of injury setbacks. This isn’t an excuse, but a fact.
The Reds had a total of eight first-team players absent in midweek with Alisson Becker, Sadio Mane, Fabinho, Naby Keita, Diogo Jota, Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip all missing.
So, it’s understandable, then, that there was a significant drop-off in performance levels when so much of his key personnel was made unavailable to Klopp.
Still, unlike Merson, we see no reason for mass panic from Liverpool’s behalf.
After all, the Reds are set to benefit from the returns of Mane, Fabinho and Alisson this afternoon, all three of whom, were part of Klopp’s Friday afternoon training session at the club’s AXA Training Centre in Kirkby.
A triple injury boost coupled by the deadline additions of Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak have suddenly provided an immediate injection of quality to Klopp’s squad.
A winning-machine as finely tuned as Liverpool’s doesn’t stop working overnight. With the right adjustments and tactical tweaks, Klopp will have his team back to winning ways in no-time.