Liverpool FC collapsed to a 0-3 loss to West Ham United in a reminder of last season’s dark days. The Reds were all over the place in the match and their afternoon turned from bad to worse as Philippe Coutinho collected two yellow cards which means that the talismanic Brazilian will be out of the Manchester United clash.
The international break couldn’t have come at a better time for Brendan Rodgers, who now has time to address the problems that arose in this game, but after last season, fans are now worried as to whether the Northern Irishman can remedy these problems.
Clear lack of identity
After 90 minutes of doom and gloom at Anfield, Kevin Friend blew his whistle to signal the end of the game. Liverpool players had their heads in their hands and were looking at the skies for answers. Amidst the hubbub made by the jubilant away fans, something could easily be missed. It was a pop sound. A three game old bubble burst at Liverpool’s home ground.
There has often been a debate about what is more important – performances or points? Yesterday showed that it is the former. Liverpool have not played well in the last three games, but have got seven points on board. Unfortunately, after the Arsenal game, there was a false sense of belief that the Reds were playing like they could win any match. The match against West Ham proved that it is only a matter of time till a team comes in and exploits the Reds’ clear lack of identity and cohesion.
This question of identity has done rounds far too often in this calendar year than Brendan Rodgers will like it. But after spending more millions in this window, he would have hoped that this godforsaken phrase doesn’t arise again. But it is either this or some other football clich s.
Liverpool’s defence, midfield and attack were completely disjointed throughout the match , much like most of last season. There was nothing threatening about the side and the departure of Philippe Coutinho soon after the half time meant theat Liverpool’s only creative element was out of the game.
Individual errors cost Liverpool too much
Brendan Rodgers heaped a lot of praise on Dejan Lovren before the match. To be fair to him, Lovren was part of the defense which didn’t concede a goal till this game. But Rodgers would be biting his tongue after this game. The Croat was directly responsible for the second goal. In an unfathomable fashion, he failed to control the ball near his own corner flag and allowed Lanzini to steal possession in the 29th minute. The Argentinian’s cross was deflected in the path of Mark Noble who cooly slotted the ball in the back of the net.
Brendan Rodgers’ insistence to play Dejan Lovren every week is inexplicable for 9 out of 10 people; fans, pundits, fellow managers, Hollywood personalities alike. The most plausible reason for this could be him trying to justify just why he wanted the Reds to make him their most expensive defender ever last season. It is really in the best interest of the manager that he doesn’t make this about his ego and accepts that Lovren is just not the player he thought he was signing. He is not an organizer of the back-line and gets dispossessed too easily. His confidence has not been restored from last season and he is certainly not a Carragher replacement. Liverpool don’t even have to look too far for a player who could be those things. He is in the squad but has been receded to the bench. Mamadou Sakho should not be a back-up to Lovren, it needs to be the other way around. And if Joe Gomez has to be a central defender for the club eventually, why not start the transition now and play him in the heart of the defence? As brilliant as Gomez has been for Liverpool so far, he wasn’t an inspired figure in the game and struggled against Payet and Lanzini. Moreno has had some inspired cameos for Liverpool so far and perhaps it is time to bring the Spaniard in and shift Gomez in the center of the back-line.
Meanwhile let’s not make Lovren the (sole) patsy. Martin Skrtel, who has somehow found himself to be indispensable in the Liverpool team, was responsible for the first goal and also failed to do much in West Ham’s third goal.
Where is the attacking threat?
Christian Benteke, in just four games for Liverpool, has proved that he is no one trick pony and that he can in fact, play well and do so well with the ball at his feet. This however, doesn’t mean that Liverpool shouldn’t be playing to his strengths. The Reds hardly offered any width in the first half, bar what resulted from Clyne’s forward runs, which were ultimately unproductive. The likes of Coutinho, Firmino and Milner were all trying to unlock the middle of the pitch and West Ham cluttered bodies there, and all of Liverpool’s attacking threat was easily dealt with as a result of that. Alberto Moreno looked determined after he was brought on in the second half, but his substitution was rendered useless after Coutinho got himself sent off for two ill-advised bookings. Firmino hit the post in the first half, which is encouraging for the Reds as he will be and extremely important player for the side in the future. Danny Ings also looked determined after he came on and could be considered the only positive from the game for the Reds.
Liverpool’s defence cost the side the game, but the attack did nothing to help the team’s cause. The Reds never looked like they could get back into the game and this will be the biggest worry for Brendan Rodgers when he sits down to analyse the opening four games. Something needs to change, in terms of tactics or personnel. Liverpool are missing the X factor. And without Coutinho, they could be in for some serious trouble.