The word crisis is thrown around far too much in football these days, but Liverpool are well and truly in trouble right now.
The defending Premier League champions currently sit in eighth place in the league with just 43 points from 28 games so far this season, making them statistically the worst defending champions of all-time at this point.
All eyes seem to point to their injury problems as a big reason for their huge drop off, but that seems like a really easy way out to cover up other issues. There is much more wrong with this team than simply fitness worries.
Lets be clear though, injuries are a factor. Any club that was without their three best defenders for the vast majority of the season would suffer, but some of the problems that have stemmed from that are of their own making.
Despite having youngster Nathaniel Phillips and Rhys Williams available for much of the campaign, Jurgen Klopp instead opted to play captain and influential midfielder Jordan Henderson in defence. That led to him getting a muscle injury that has prematurely ended his season and meant the midfield has been bereft of it’s usual leadership and quality.
Thiago Alcantara has struggled to adapt to the pace of the Premier League, while Gini Wijnaldum has failed to adapt to a more defensive role. Curtis Jones has been the best performer in the midfield position but to rely on him to lead the team forward is an ask too far for the youngster.
In attack, they have been found out. Mo Salah is the Premier League top goalscorer with 17 goals so far, but he’s scored those goals in only 12 games during the campaign despite making 27 appearances. Sadio Mane is having arguably his worst season in England since coming from the Austrian Bundesliga back in 2014. While Roberto Firmino has been falling lower and lower in the rankings of striker across Europe for a long period of time.
The full-backs, while still full of quality, have been poor this season for the most part. Defensively they’ve struggled massively and going forward where they usually shine more than anything else they’ve failed to deliver.
That hasn’t stopped Klopp from keeping a system in place that clearly isn’t working anymore, with Robertson and Alexander-Arnold still the main creators. The lack of form of the team as a whole isn’t a shock when you consider their drop off too and Klopp’s decision not to alter the team’s setup is pretty shocking.
The team are crying out for a new setup to help get the best out of the players they have available and in-form. Klopp must adapt and change if they are to have any sort of chance of rescuing the campaign. Top four looks like it could be in genuine doubt, meaning that the best chance of Champions League football next season will be through winning the tournament for a second time in three years.
They’re currently leading 2-0 against RB Leipzig in the last 16 of the competition but if they are to progress to the next round, their form will without a doubt make them a team that many teams will be willing to be drawn against.
Players look unhappy, the coach looks drained and the performance of the team is at an all-time low following six consecutive defeats at Anfield. This goes deeper than injuries and that needs to be spoken of, despite the successes of the squad in recent years.