Is Jurgen Klopp under pressure at Liverpool?by Simon Lillicrap / 26 January 2017, 11:56Tweet
The EFL Cup semi-final defeat to Southampton only deepened the rut that Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side currently find themselves in.
His side now have just one win in their last seven games in all competitions, and the free-scoring Liverpool from before Christmas seem to have been shackled, scoring just 6 goals in that period. By comparison, in the seven games before this current run Liverpool had won five and scored 16 goals.
So how has Klopp seen his sides’ season unravel so quickly?
The poor run has seen them dumped out of one cup, they could be out the FA Cup on Saturday when they host Wolves, and their Premier League title ambitions look minimal as Chelsea keep up a relentless pace at the top. The Reds are now 10 points adrift of the league leaders.
The loss of Sadio Mane to the African Cup of Nations has hit Liverpool more than anyone expected. Although they still have their creative players such as Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana, no one in the squad has the searing pace that Mane possesses to stretch the opposition defence.
Mane's Senegal side face Cameroon in the AFCON quarter-finals on Saturday and Liverpool fans will be selfishly hoping for a Senegal exit so Mane can get back to Melwood as soon as possible.
The returning Coutinho has also been a huge miss for Liverpool, missing five weeks of action. Arguably Liverpool’s best player, who this week signed a five-year contract, will provide a huge boost to Klopp’s side once he hits full fitness.
Opposition sides playing Liverpool seemed to have worked out how to play them. As Plymouth, Swansea and Southampton have shown this month if you sit back and be compact they will struggle to break you down without the pace of Mane. These sides counter attacked with speed and exposed the weakness of Liverpool: the defence and goalkeeper.
It is surprising that we are coming to the end of the transfer window and Klopp is yet to address these key issues. If he wants to keep his side in the Champions League Qualification places he certainly needs a top-class keeper.
They have been linked with Joe Hart, which would be a move that could suit all parties involved as he is a class above Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius, and Hart himself would no doubt rather ply his trade in the Premier League. Hart could well be recalled to Man City however, as Claudio Bravo’s form is questionable to say the least.
This season, for Liverpool, seems to have echoes of Arsenal - play good football, start well but ultimately falter in January/February, resulting in another trophyless season. To stop this rot Klopp needs to make a couple of defensive signings as soon as possible that will improve his first team, while Mane needs to be on red hot form when he returns from the AFCON.