West Ham were able to do a double against Liverpool in the Premier League after more than fifty years courtesy of a performance that didn’t allow the visitors to come into the game for even five minutes at a stretch. Two headed goals from Antonio and Carroll ensured Liverpool were at a back-foot throughout the game.
Here are three things we learned from the match.
Klopp didn’t do enough…
Jurgen Klopp has been viewed as the messiah since he replaced Brendan Rodgers at helm. After the initial honeymoon period, things have dipped for the German. While two narrow one goal wins have given the Reds some respite after a brief tumultuous period, a shambolic performance against West Ham will surely concern the former Borussia Dortmund boss.
The German was visibly angry in his post match assessment and blasted the team for only giving 90% and expecting better results. It seemed that the manager also gave that much.
Klopp has inherited this squad and is no magician, and he can only do so much with the same set of players that got Rodgers the sack. He has also been cursed with a bevy of injuries. However, it would be wrong to absolve him of any blame. After going down a goal quickly, the German should have switched things later in the game and obviously could make some changes at half-time. He didn’t do that and Liverpool picked up the second half from where they left the first one – on the backfoot. Moreover, knowing West Ham are a team that thrives on crosses as they have big players who can beat opposite defenders physically and aerially, Klopp didn’t seem to have a different plan to deal with the Hammers. Attack-wise as well, there was no incision from the Liverpool players and surely, the management would have known before the match that West Ham have a very organised back-line. Liverpool have struggled in the last few weeks and injuries might have hampered Klopp’s ambitions, but he needs to do more.
…But the real blame lies with the players
While the manager surely can’t be exonerated, Liverpool players deserve more of the blame. Except for a select few, the players were extremely poor and didn’t look like they were part of a squad that was aspiring to finish in the top 4 of the league. Philippe Coutinho has been largely anonymous in recent games and you mostly get to see him when he attempts his right foot curlers from 30 yards out. Roberto Firmino hasn’t played well enough (to justify his transfer fee) since the Manchester City game. Christian Benteke remains extremely static in front of goal. The attack seems very disjointed and Jordan Henderson, who can usually create some momentum for the attack to thrive, has gotten injured so quickly after making his comeback. Emre Can was the standout player in the game but he can only do so much in the game. Lucas Leiva could be blamed for the first goal and by and large looked very poor throughout. Perhaps Klopp will give Joe Allen a go in the coming games if James Milner remains injured. Despite conceding two goals, Liverpool’s defence operated much better than the midfield or the attack. The team is capable of good performances, as illustrated in games against Chelsea, Manchester City and Southampton. They need the inspiration to do the same in every game if they aspire to finish with a Champions League spot next season.
Liverpool could benefit with some reinforcements in this window
It has been said that Klopp would like to wait till the end of the season and add to the squad only in the summer. However, considering the recent performances coupled with a growing injury list, it would perhaps be wise for the manager to look for some reinforcements in the coming days. The Reds have in the past made some astute signings in the winter window which has famously included Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge. They could do with some fire-power at the moment and it is believed that FSG are ready to offer Klopp the requisite funds to do the same.