Analysis after Liverpool suffer another dismal defeat on the road, with their loss at Bournemouth putting a dent in their top-four hopes.
Bad attitude poses question
Jurgen Klopp was in no doubt ahead of the game. “It’s all about attitude today,” he stated. “And if the attitude is right, then it’s about football.”
And if the shocking outcome points to the latter not being spot on, the real concern for the Liverpool boss must surely be the application of some of his players.
Bluntly, what is wrong with them?
Klopp chose not to dig out the squad out after the game, as he had done following the dreadful reverse at Brighton earlier in the year when he pointed to his unhappiness with the body language from several of his charges.
But he didn’t have to. This latest performance, following a decent opening 20 minutes, spoke for itself, far removed from the standard set during the recent domestic recovery that had seen five consecutive clean sheets and 13 points taken from 15.
The second half in particular was appalling, the flicker of revival after the break only fleeting.
Bournemouth, scrapping for their lives at the foot of the table, were buoyed by the belief in their straightforward gameplan. Liverpool, by contrast, either looked curiously short of confidence or, more criminally, were too dismissive of their opponents.
They lost the arm-wrestle, the initiative and, ultimately, the game, the whirlwind that blew away Manchester United the previous weekend replaced by something akin to a slight draught.
This was a costly reminder of what happens when this current Reds side even considers resting on its laurels. They aren’t good enough for that.
Klopp must take some blame
Even allowing for the continued absence of the likes of Thiago Alcantara, Luis Diaz and Joe Gomez, the bench saw a further example of the options at Jurgen Klopp’s disposal at present.
There was again no Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, while Curtis Jones, after a brief cameo against United, missed out. This instead was the afternoon for Arthur Melo to return among the substitutes for the first time since early October.
Arthur remained unused. But no matter who Klopp turned to and in what formation, Liverpool just couldn’t find a way of kickstarting a poor showing. Indeed, there was good reason for the Reds boss to have shaken up the team long before a triple substitution midway through the second half.
Diogo Jota, making his 100th Liverpool appearance, at least added some thrust when introduced during the break. But the half-time switch to 4-2-3-1 failed to extract improvement from an out-of-sorts Darwin Nunez, although Cody Gakpo did show some brief promise in a deeper position before fading.
The forwards, though, could rightly point to a lack of service with the full-backs, outstanding against Manchester United, misfiring and the midfield functional rather than creative.
Certainly, it will be a concern that James Milner looked far more lively than a jaded Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back on his later introduction.
Not all white for Reds
Football fans can be a superstitious bunch. And they won’t have failed to notice a trend with Liverpool this season.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have failed to win a single game when wearing their questionable white away kit, taking just a single point from five outings.
So much for the warning from Jurgen Klopp that Bournemouth would be hurting from their record-equalling 9-0 defeat at Anfield back in August. But this avoidable reverse isn’t terminal. While results elsewhere didn’t much go Liverpool’s way on Saturday, they still have 12 Premier League games remaining.
That’s almost a third of the season. And with hopefully at least Luis Diaz back as an attacking option following the international break, they will arguably be better equipped during the run-in than at any other time in the campaign.
A desperate afternoon, yes. But Liverpool cannot allow it to fester too much. They still very much have Champions League qualification in their sights.