Liverpool 2022/23: We Go Again

67YAZ

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Yeah, that makes sense.

A Matip- Konate paring also needs some run. VVD looks well below his standard, which is the bedrock for everything Klopp does.

3ATB would be interesting. Maybe 3-4-3 with Fab & Thiago in the middle of things? Is that enough?
 

Mighty Joe Young

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I think Klopp will be rolling in his grave before he switched to a back three.

In his presser after the game he had a lot of interesting things to say regarding Trent - and I don’t think it was just tire pumping. The gist of it was that Trent was often out of position because that’s where Klopp wants him.

There is obviously a lot of truth to that. But, to my eyes the issue is he’s getting consistently beat even if he’s where he’s supposed to be.

I still remember the 2nd leg City CL game where Liverpool ran up the score in the first leg. Pep started 8 attackers - including Sane who spent the entire game 1 v 1 with Trent and he did a magnificent job defending. That version is long gone.

It’s obvious he’s being targeted but the midfield issues are exacerbating the problems with the general lack of pressing.

That was the A list midfield and they neither controlled the game nor pressed adequately out of possession.
 

SocrManiac

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In my mind, the problem is less about him getting beat as it is about his attitude. He’s giving up on plays, jogging back, and looks generally disinterested in defensive duties.
 

teddykgb

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In my mind, the problem is less about him getting beat as it is about his attitude. He’s giving up on plays, jogging back, and looks generally disinterested in defensive duties.
Couldn’t that just be all the miles piling up? Heavy metal football and all that plus all the international stuff has had everyone play far too much. A modern fullback probably has the hardest physical job on the pitch. If I were managing him I’d probably look to just spread his minutes out to try to recharge. I think the criticisms are way over the top. Yes he can be got at but this feels like more of a statistical anomaly type of grouping than anything. I highly doubt this is still a major topic in May
 

Jimy Hendrix

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I wonder if Klopp has just gone stale with this group of players. The drop in pressing particularly sets that alarm bell off for me. As a Spurs fan it reminds me of the end of Poch, albeit not yet so severe. They’re great, then they’re good and don’t press like they used to, then they’re less good than that.

Pep has avoided this by voraciously turning that team over (state money is nice for this purpose), but Pool have been slower with that. Miles better than the utter transfer freeze that killed Poch, but maybe still not enough, especially if VVD is mortal now.
 

OCST

Sunny von Bulow
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I wonder if Klopp has just gone stale with this group of players. The drop in pressing particularly sets that alarm bell off for me. As a Spurs fan it reminds me of the end of Poch, albeit not yet so severe. They’re great, then they’re good and don’t press like they used to, then they’re less good than that.

Pep has avoided this by voraciously turning that team over (state money is nice for this purpose), but Pool have been slower with that. Miles better than the utter transfer freeze that killed Poch, but maybe still not enough, especially if VVD is mortal now.
and this. If you think back to the beginning of the Pep era, 2016-17, Stones KDB and Gungodan are the only holdovers. He’s done a fantastic job of reloading. Yes he had more money but his hit to miss ratio has been outstanding and he’s been masterful at building cohesive units which is not always easy with expensive players.

Not so much that Klopp has failed as he hasn’t tried as much.
 

Mighty Joe Young

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and this. If you think back to the beginning of the Pep era, 2016-17, Stones KDB and Gungodan are the only holdovers. He’s done a fantastic job of reloading. Yes he had more money but his hit to miss ratio has been outstanding and he’s been masterful at building cohesive units which is not always easy with expensive players.

Not so much that Klopp has failed as he hasn’t tried as much.
Well .l think there HAS been a major turnover in part of the squad .. Jota, Diaz and Nunez have , I would say, successfully refreshed the forward line. But the fullbacks have (according to the Athletic) played the most minutes in the past five years in the top five European leagues. That is astounding when you think of it. And both are way below their usual levels. Mind you, Tsimikas I think is a very solid backup. He’d be starting for two thirds of the EPL. And a much hyped Calvin Ramsay was brought in to back up Trent. So , at least they’re trying. The midfield on the other hand … I love the fact they’ve tried integrating the youngsters … Elliot, Jones, Carvalho have all looked promising but they aren’t box to box guys (maybe Jones could do that but he can’t stay healthy)

But the drop in standards of Fabinho and Henderson has really exposed the defensive stability of the team. When you have to rely on Thiago’s health there is obviously a big problem. Henderson I get .. he’s getting on but Fabinho has gone from a world class #6 to a huge liability. This doesn’t get fixed until he returns to form. It’s pretty obvious why they are apparently willing to shell out fortune for Bellingham.
 

67YAZ

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Klopp indicated in his presser that Konate is ready to go and that Nunez came back from international duty with some kind of hamstring concern. Klopp framed it as the medical staff saying Darwin might only be able to do 15 or 20 minutes...so not severe, but certainly a further drag on his ability to bed in.
 

67YAZ

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From the Athletic, yesterday's average positons.

56152

Klopp called this a 4-4-2, but the map suggests the 4-2-3-1 was the general shape with Diaz pushing in on Jota and Nunez in the middle.

Trent, of course, hung way back (by his standards). They could get away with this largely because they played 4 outright attackers up top. Not sure they can roll like that against the surging Arsenal. Same shape with Bobby at the 10?
 

67YAZ

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Injury update! Jones is back in training, Robbo is running, and Keita and Ox are making progress. But Arthur picked up a muscle injury the day before Rangers.

One step forward, one step back...
 

SocrManiac

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This feels like the Everton game from a few years ago where we were robbed of points by inept refereeing and lost a key player to injury.

Who hurt him is just the icing on the cake.
 

67YAZ

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“We talked a little bit” = Michael Edwards said he was really excited about the possibility, Mbappe’s agent threw out some initial contract figures, and the line went dead.
 

PedroSpecialK

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IMO the only chance would be to use Salah as a makeweight in a swap deal and even then IDK if any amount of money FSG would be willing to spend would be enough.
 

SocrManiac

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Unexpected win today, which is fun in anybody’s book.
  • Gomez looked fantastic in the middle paired with VVD, leaving us to forget that Konate is hurt (again).
  • Seeing Milner’s name on the team sheet gave me hives pre-match but he acquitted himself far better than even Klopp probably expected.
  • VVD put in an absolutely vintage performance.
  • I didn’t realize it had been a couple of weeks since Jota was hurt and that his healthy timer expired.
  • There have been a number of Spanish language articles pushing the “Darwin is stupid” headlines that, when drilled down, simply suggest he doesn’t have a command of English yet. When you see a performance like today’s, though, it’s hard not to think it’s dumb as a stump. Just an awful, awful showing in terms of decision making and chemistry.
  • Alisson’s vision and distribution, Mo’s control and finish. Wow.
    • Mo did bail himself a bit from criticism here, as he’d made a couple of Darwin-esque decisions that probably cost goals earlier in the match. The difference is… Mo is The Man for this team (and is paid as such).
It still feels too early to say Liverpool are back, but they’ve had glimmers amongst the stumbles recently. It took too long to put the wheels back on to be serious title contenders, but I feel a growing confidence that Top 4 might be achievable if the injury bug can be squashed. I still think they need a real acquisition in the midfield in January, TAA still scares the shit out of me, and I’m wondering what ligament/muscle damaging compound is in the Liverpool water (Everton haven’t exactly been exempt, either).

We’ll enjoy this one a bit and move on to do it all again.
 

OCST

Sunny von Bulow
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Darwin may well have a particularly hard time with the language or culture but many hundreds of players have been able to get by. Being just not that good is a possibility.
 

Tangled Up In Red

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In that 3 on 1 that someone biffed, the middle runner was 100% at fault. He blew the whole play by not falling back or, better, running to the left behind the defender.
 

67YAZ

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Klopp says Jota has a torn calf muscle. No surgery, but no return date yet, either.
 

SocrManiac

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Interesting stuff… All of the indicators are there, just the goals are lacking. Either they’re coming from sheer numerical volume or he is a spectacularly shitty finisher.
 

67YAZ

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Interesting stuff… All of the indicators are there, just the goals are lacking. Either they’re coming from sheer numerical volume or he is a spectacularly shitty finisher.
Here’s some shooting stats from FBRef. His total volume is up, but most everything else is significantly down from career average. We all knew last season was a huge outlier - he’s not a better finisher than Kane, Messi, & Haaland. But he’s also not as bad as he has been even factoring a league adjustment.

If he can get 10-15% more shots on target even with a slightly lower volume, things will look great.

56681
 
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67YAZ

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No suspension for Klopp following the red against City. A fine, but he won't miss any matches.

Hendo didn't sustain any structural damage to his knee yesterday, Klopp calling it just a bruise. But yet another midfielder getting banged up.

Qualifying for the Last 16 yesterday was big with Leeds on Saturday and Spurs next Sunday. Klopp can use the mid-week Napoli match to rotate heavily - please, Jurgen, rotate heavily - since the group is more or less completely settled. I think, based on a skim of the tiebreakers, Liverpool would need to win by 4 goals to take the group. That's not really worth risking another injury, is it? IS IT, KLOPP?
 

SocrManiac

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I think Klopp avoiding suspension is awful. There is a ton of recent precedent and this only serves as evidence of big team bias. The punishment came down from an independent arbiter and the FA can (and should) appeal.

That said, Anthony Taylor and his team should also be suspended a match for their performance. The complete lack of accountability from these oafs is a key problem in the game today.
 

67YAZ

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I think Klopp avoiding suspension is awful. There is a ton of recent precedent and this only serves as evidence of big team bias. The punishment came down from an independent arbiter and the FA can (and should) appeal.

That said, Anthony Taylor and his team should also be suspended a match for their performance. The complete lack of accountability from these oafs is a key problem in the game today.
I don’t disagree. It also lowers the bar for treatment of the officials. Calls get blown, but abusive & idiotic behavior in response is a choice. And it’s not one the FA should indulge.

Related, Liverpool & City need to get together and start communicating to their fans what appropriate behavior is. Nasty chants, throwing coins, pelting buses…the temperature is rising and it’s going to lead someplace bad. Ramp down on that shit now.
 

OCST

Sunny von Bulow
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I think Klopp avoiding suspension is awful. There is a ton of recent precedent and this only serves as evidence of big team bias. The punishment came down from an independent arbiter and the FA can (and should) appeal.

That said, Anthony Taylor and his team should also be suspended a match for their performance. The complete lack of accountability from these oafs is a key problem in the game today.
Agree and agree.

Players and managers lose their jobs for bad results. Officiating is insanely difficult but there should be consequences for blowing it that badly.
 

nolasoxfan

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Ok, so, where do we go from here? Finishing 5 or 6 in the EPL and qualifying for Europa would be a disaster IMHO. This team needs rest and reimagining. Europa League would be a distraction.
 

Mighty Joe Young

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Ok, so, where do we go from here? Finishing 5 or 6 in the EPL and qualifying for Europa would be a disaster IMHO. This team needs rest and reimagining. Europa League would be a distraction.
With their luck they’ll probably get the conference league.

This is all on the players. They were good enough to come within a couple of goals for a unprecedented quad - now they lose to Leeds at home and Forest on the road back to back.

Just a stunning decline in form from VVD, Gomez, AA, Robertson, Fabinho and Henderson. It’s like a switch was pulled and they went from 28 to 38 on the beach this summer. Up front they’ve been mediocre - probably due to bedding in Nunez and the injuries.

Sure , a new Mid would have been nice but it would have been papering over the rot.

- AA has gone from the best RB in the world to a hot mess.
- Robertson is still putting in a shift but the assists have dried up.
- Gomez - who can plead lack of playing time I guess but he’s a disaster waiting to happen
- VVD at least seems to be steadying himself

And the worst decline has come from Henderson - which is not unexpected - and Fabinho which is. What on earth happened to him?

No amount of tinkering with formations can fix the utter collapse of world class players.

I think the CL places are a dream at this point and the financial hit will be massive.

The nightmare scenario is FSG panicking and firing Klopp - can’t see them being that stupid though.

Move any summer transfer business up to January if they can - a couple of new Mids seems like a minimum get. Health from Konate and Matip should help the back line. Heath from Diaz and Jota should help the frontline.

Klopp pulled a CL sized rabbit out of his hat in the CB crisis year. Can he do it again ?
 

OCST

Sunny von Bulow
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It's silly season on the Interwebs, of course, let me ask youze:

Could Klopp really be in trouble?

There's one thing that works against him - he doesn't handle adversity well, going by his public comments. When he's hit a rough patch during his run of success, he's come across as brittle and sour.
 

teddykgb

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Imo Klopp will quit way before they’d fire him. The club worships him and it would take multiple poor seasons for Henry to even have a chance of moving on without being hung in the town square. Klopp would cite burnout and leave well before it ever came to that. This was probably going to be a transition season anyway with a new striker trying to displace Firmino and Diaz taking over Manes spot.
 

67YAZ

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Agree with Teddy. Klopp survived the Great Centerback Crisis of 2020-2021, where Liverpool lost 6 in a row at Anfield.

Klopp won’t be fired and he won’t quit mid-season, especially with the extended WC break on the horizon offering a chance to reconfigure a lot of shit.
 

PedroSpecialK

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Given where the club would be without him, zero chance IMO. He's dealing with a perfect storm of a few things:
  • Extreme workload a subset of players (Robertson, Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Henderson, Salah) for 4-5 years yielding diminishing returns even when they're "fit"
    • Alexander-Arnold strikes me as someone who's been jaded by the workload and has something else going on - his defensive regression from "average" to "lol" is giving me Knoblauchian vibes
  • High-intensity training and general injury proneness of another subset of players (Thiago, Keita, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Konate, Matip) depleting already limited squad depth - can't have midfield rotation if all your rotation options are perpetually on the treatment table
    • There have been rumblings of Andreas Kornmayer rubbing people the wrong way with how steadfast he is in keeping the intensity level of trainings elevated. Not sure how much smoke there is there but wouldn't be surprised to see a backroom change made like with Buvač.
  • Proclivity to let squad players who are not happy being squad players leave (Minamino, Origi) - good for the future of attracting players, but not beneficial to this year's squad
  • WC 2022 approaching and relative caution shown by players who will be playing
    • Case in point for me was Van Dijk doing absolutely nothing to get in front of or make a challenge on Summerville for Leeds' second goal - I understand the mentality but it's not pleasant to watch.
Given they were two matches from a quadruple 5 months ago, I'd also cite minimal investment relative to club's goals as a cause here. Summer after winning UCL, they bought Andy Londergan, Adrian, and Harvey Elliott. This summer, they sold Mané and brought in Núñez. Aggregate net spend across those two windows is in the ~£15m range.

The prime of this squad has obviously come and gone - it's the reactive nature of dealing with this reality that grates me about FSG's approach; how much Klopp has to do with that, I don't know (Klopp himself said in the summer they did not need another midfielder). End of the day, Arthur Melo on loan as midfield cover for a club with EPL / UCL aspirations is not going to cut it. There are already indications Bellingham's price will exceed what FSG are willing to pay, having waited two years already - I can't help but think the alternative is overspending on a guy like Moises Caicedo that they could've had for 20% of the price a year prior.

Tl;dr - they look bad, it's partially on Klopp, but IMO the good with him far outweighs the bad. Though, I don't think the future is particularly bright regardless.
 

SocrManiac

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It’s some combination of these factors for me:
  1. Having four titles in sight and losing the two you want would be enough to devastate anybody. That wound still has to be raw.
  2. Injury-prone players/improper training techniques/some combination thereof. Too many key guys are hurt too often. VVD got wiped out by a flailing keeper- that shit happens. Matip, Thiago, Jota, Konate, etc are either made of glass or something about the training program is fundamentally incompatible with their makeup. If they aren’t turning over every stone here, from conditioning, training, weight room, and nutrition, it’s malpractice.
  3. How many ways can Klopp motivate the guys to play the high energy style? Combined with the failure they likely feel about last season (deserved or not) they look like they can’t catch that gear this year. I don’t think it’s a matter of bedding in the new guys. The vets don’t have it, either.
  4. As a corollary to this… The looming World Cup probably ties to this. They can still turn it on at times (see: Citeh, Manchester).
  5. Age. Henderson has been showing it in spells. Fabinho apparently put on six years since the CL final. Milner was old when he signed with Liverpool what feels like a century ago. When this squad was assembled, it wasn’t young. Now it’s really not young.
  6. Maybe Mané was simply the best player in the history of the game.
Trent is clearly in his own head and devastatingly incompetent right now. I don’t think playing him through it is doing him any favors. He knows he’s getting bailed out regularly (when he isn’t conceding directly). He isn’t making enough contribution in the attack to justify how bad he’s been defending.

Fabinho’s free fall has been even more devastating. He is so important to how this team plays when things are going well, and also provided no small bit of cover to TAA.

Darwin is not consistently impressing. He’s incredibly wasteful, though he also creates more chances than most. His industry is impressive (helluva sprint back to defend a counter off a corner), but he’s absolutely brain dead when he gets shithoused.

Mo is playing like a man that got his contract. Yikes.

The consequences of a bad year are unfortunately disproportionate and tend to snowball. Missing one year of CL has pile on effects that are felt for years. I think Top Four is no longer attainable. If the players agree… This could get ugly.
 

SocrManiac

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Another thought...

Should LFC have been more ruthless with Mo? Would that money have been better spent on rebuilding?

I think a number of us wanted to get something for him over the summer, though I was surprised by the excitement and satisfaction I felt when he was signed. He certainly isn't earning or justifying the extension right now, and he doesn't have a World Cup distraction.

When he's been deployed wide he's certainly been ineffective through no fault of his own. He's likely a victim of TAA's decline as well. He has a couple of vintage goals under his belt (Ajax, Citeh), but he's also been wasteful- the conversation about that City game would look very different without the Alisson assist,
 

67YAZ

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I don’t know that it’s Mo specifically. We’ll have to wait and see.

Rather, it’s the slow unraveling of the club’s previous philosopjh to target players in their early 20s to keep the squad fresh and evolving. There still have been a bunch of excellent transfers for young’uns…but also Thiago.

Each of the deals to resign veteran stars was defensible on its own, but taken together you now have an aging core. There has been a lack of ruthlessness all around.

57109
 

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Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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I think this is pretty instructive. There just aren't a lot of Liverpool players in the peak age zone or the slightly lighter zone right beforehand, plus maybe some accelerated age-related decline from players like Robertson and Fabinho who are theoretically closest to peak age due to the sheer amount of high intensity minutes they've seen over the last 4-5 years.

View: https://twitter.com/oh_that_crab/status/1573205051006500866
 

OCST

Sunny von Bulow
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The midfield really sticks out. There are a LOT of miles on those legs. That goes with what I've seen when I've watched Pool. The guys in the engine room who were so tough in their best seasons, those guys are not bossing the pitch anymore, they're reactive and they're a step slow.
 

67YAZ

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Milner to get further examination for a concussion.

Head health is joke in this sport, a very sick joke.
 

OCST

Sunny von Bulow
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Milner to get further examination for a concussion.

Head health is joke in this sport, a very sick joke.
It’s awful. I’ve seen one of the obligatory handwringer pieces “Nigel was a center back for League Three side Bollocks Town for nine years and now he lives in the woods and can’t remember his sons name” and it’s terrible.
 

SocrManiac

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I suspect given the relative condition of the two sides from an injury and fitness standpoint that Spurs are going to grab a late goal this weekend off a gassed Liverpool side. Both sides are hurt but Conte’s obsessiveness will come in to play. Whether it’s a winner, equalizer, or extends a lead, I have no idea, but I think the red shirts will be glorified cones by the 80th minute.
 

OCST

Sunny von Bulow
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This fucking team is bipolar.
It may be as simple as getting up for the big games. The cold Tuesday nights in Stoke not so much.

That would be consistent with mental/emotional fatigue, as well as physical. The sense I get sometimes is that they can't be arsed, as they say in Merseyside. They don't have enough left in the tank.