Ben Morgan looks into yesterday’s 2-2 draw with Sevilla, with some of the positives and negatives from the encounter, and areas which need addressing by Jurgen Klopp, before the weekends Premier League clash as Liverpool host Burnley on Saturday.
Another game has come and gone, another chance for the Reds to showcase the obvious talents in the squad, but yet, it seems as though we are all asking the same question. What went wrong? From being a goal down, to 2-1 up, the Reds were in full control of the game, creating chances at a premium, with some fantastic attacking football, but ultimately, Klopp’s men missed chance after chance, and were made to pay for it. At first look 2-2 with a Sevilla side looks like a decent result, considering Liverpool lost 3-1 to them, in the 2016 Europa League Final, but the game just emphasised the lack of investment in the squad in key areas, which drastically needed improving. One thing that cannot be argued with though, is the ‘Famous’ European night atmosphere at Anfield was at its very best, with the fans creating an exquisite sound throughout the game. What were the other positives and negatives though?
There were a number of positives in yesterday game, most notably, the attacking talent at the disposal of Jurgen Klopp. We all know of the quality Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, but we are now really starting to see the trio gel. The latter two both got on the scoresheet, with Firmino scoring the equaliser, and then Salah notching the Reds in to the lead. It could have been many more for the Reds as well, with chance after chance being created. Roberto Firmino saw a penalty rattle of the post, and further chances would be missed following this. Alberto Moreno looks a play reborn in recent matches, the added competition provided by Andrew Robertson, and also the versatility of James Milner, who kept Moreno out of the side for the majority of last season, has really spurned on the Spanish full back. Moreno was key to Liverpool’s equaliser, playing a lovely one two and setting up Firmino to tap in behind Sergio Rico in the Sevilla goal. The one obvious positive that stands out was the return of the ‘Little Magician’ Phillipe Coutinho. It was a tough summer for the Brazilian and the club, as the player had his heart set on a dream move to Barcelona, but the club would not sanction the move, with bids in excess of £100 offered by the Catalan Giants. There was much speculation that Coutinho would never play for the club again, and that fans were not going to accept him coming back into the team. All of this was forgotten when we saw Coutinho named on the bench, and then be introduced for the final quarter of the second half, returning to the side with the famous red shirt. A rapturous applause and cheer broke out for the Brazilian. Hopefully the summer’s antics can be forgotten in the instance and Coutinho can continue to deliver for the club, as he looks to keep his place in Brazils World Cup Squad
Unfortunately the positives from the game were once again overshadowed by the negative. Notice the phrase ‘the negative’. This is because it is the same negative we seem to be talking about after every game Liverpool play. It is déjà vu, and something that hasn’t been solved, and doesn’t show any signs of being resolved. This is obviously the Reds defending. Dejan Lovren was at fault for Sevilla opener, has he bundled over while trying to clear the ball which resulted in Wissam Ben Yedder simply finishing into Loris Karius’ goal. The reds defence then came unstuck again, late on in the second half, after some good work from former Stoke Midfielder Steven N’Zonzi, followed up by Argentinean Joaquin Correa who got passed the backline of Liverpool and finished well past Karius. These are all too familiar scenes for Liverpool, failing to convert chances coupled with failing to defend against opposition. It happened earlier in the season against Watford, where the Reds were held to a 3-3 draw. Something must clearly be done in order to stiffen up that backline. Continuity may be one of the rectifications needed, the need for a settled backline, something Jurgen Klopp is yet to find. Once more, Liverpool were reduced to 10 men for the second game in a row, with Joe Gomez set to miss the next game of the Champions League, after he picked up a late second yellow card in the game.
What the team say:
After the game, Jordan Henderson, the skipper, told BBC Sport, that the reds could have taken the three points with the amount of chances they created; “We could have taken the three points with the chances we created in both halves but they got us on the counter-attack. We are disappointed not to take the points but the lads reacted well to the weekend (after the Reds 5-0 away defeat to Manchester City). We looked exciting and could have scored a few more goals. We wanted to win the ball back quickly and get the crowd behind us. The lads reacted brilliantly to going behind and there are positives from the game.”
Manager Jurgen Klopp thought his side played a winning performance, and highlighted the potential within his current squad; “”It was pretty much a winning performance for 85-86 minutes and the team played well against a side who play well. We had answers for everything apart from the goals. I have to see them again. That is not the good thing. It was an exciting game from my side, everyone saw our desire and passion but we got a point. We know we have to improve but there is so much potential and we can work with this. It is a draw – it does not feel too good but I am fine with big parts of the performance.”
What needs to happen before Burnley?
Now though, all attention has to turn quickly to Saturdays, already crucial clash with Burnley in the Premier League. The Reds were humiliated last time out in the league by a rampant Manchester City who won 5-0, with the Reds also being reduced to 10 men following the controversial sending off of Sadio Mane, for a high boot, on City Stopper Ederson. With Wednesdays defensive display added to this as well, defensive work needs to be done in training sessions. Klopp needs to find the right mix, whether that is for Gomez to come in to partner Joel Matip at the heart of the back four, with Alexander-Arnold coming in at right back. Moreno has been good in the last set of games, but needs to be kept also so there could be minutes handed to Andrew Robertson, who has impressed when he has featured. The Goalkeeping area needs clearing up also. Klopp has said that ‘there is not a No.1, but that simply isn’t good enough, the Reds need that No.1 confirmed, especially the back four, as then that understanding between the goalkeeper and defence can start to build itself up.
Ultimately, Liverpool’s failed chances came back to haunt them once again, and they will need to be at their clinical and decisive best when they take on a Burnley side, in very good form.