Jurgen Klopp’s reds arrived at the King Power Stadium knowing full well that Leicester would throw everything at them. Their performance suggested anything but. Alex Miller looks at six things we learned from yet another lacklustre Liverpool showing in 2017.
This is a guest piece from @AlexMiller91
1 – It’s not necessarily his fault, but Lucas has no future in this Liverpool side
He’s all too easy a target nowadays, but Liverpool’s longest serving player is surely in his final season at Anfield. And to a large extent, it’s not his fault in the slightest. The Brazilian is no centre-half, and time and again, no matter who the opposition, his frailties have been laid bare when he has played there. The fault there surely lies with Jurgen Klopp, whose desperation to include Lucas’ leadership qualities in the eleven pitted the famously statuesque Lucas against Jamie Vardy, one of the quickest and most direct forwards in the league.
The manager has made it clear that he isn’t mobile enough to play in a Klopp midfield, and after that horror show of a performance at the back, it is doubtful we’ll see too much of him there either. What is now absolutely clear, and it comes with huge sadness, is that Lucas has no future at LFC.
2 – Jordan Henderson is vital when the going gets tough
It’s perhaps the most obvious sign that Jordan Henderson is having a good season that social media isn’t ablaze with messages ridiculing his every move. So often the punchline, Henderson’s influence on the reds this year has been palpable, even more so since his injury and eventual absence during the horror show that has been early 2017. His role as the tempo-setter is vital, and with Emre Can seemingly unable to fill his boots, the reds have been lacklustre. With few leaders in the squad and the side unable to put a string of passes together, the captain’s absence was especially notable at the King Power.
3 – The next transfer window is a big one
Ignoring the fact that the squad is still so clearly aching from a lack of injection during the January transfer window, it was alarming to notice that Jurgen Klopp has had three transfer windows during his spell at Liverpool, and that his side started a mid-season game against the Premier League champions with two midfielders in defence. Some big names will leave LFC in the Summer, and it is vital that the club get the incomings right this time.
4 – James Milner gets cut too much slack
After a solid start to the season, the momentum behind James Milner’s reinvention at left-back has ground to a screeching halt in recent weeks. His header into the path of Danny Drinkwater, which led to Leicester’s vital second goal, was criminal, his check back onto his favoured right foot in attack all too often killed Liverpool’s momentum going forward, and his defending in general was toothless. Had Alberto Moreno produced that showing, he’d have been pillared. It might just be time the Spaniard’s intensity is welcomed back into the fold.
5 – Liverpool’s problems are bigger than fatigue
An unhelpful fixture pile-up? A threadbare squad battered by injury? Sadio Mane’s absence? None of these buzz phrases used to explain Liverpool’s January blues helped the cause, but what is for certain is that the side’s issues amount to more than these. Why were the reds so rudderless after a two week break, and why do key men continue to go missing against inferior opposition? The question is Klopp’s to answer.
6 – It’s time for Coutinho to stand up and be counted
He’s the side’s best player, and the little magician is something a little bit special. But what is keeping him from ‘world class’ status, and quite possibly from the arms of Barcelona, is his inability to drag his side through difficult patches. If Coutinho is to be compared alongside the likes of Luis Suarez, as his talent would justify, then the Brazilian needs to produce the goods when those around him are failing to do so, and drag his side through games such as the Leicester one kicking and screaming. Liverpool fans would be wrong to aim their ire at Coutinho, but it can’t be denied that he has gone missing throughout this horrendous run of results.