After Liverpool beat Manchester City 4-3 in a pulsating game of football, Jurgen Klopp on US telly, mentioned something quite outrageous. No, not his swearing, rather it was when he said that his American bosses would be watching the game…
However, after viewing such an abject display on Monday night, I must quote the German once more, indeed: “what the fuck WAS that?”
Liverpool looked like a side that was out on the ‘rip’ the night before, save for Andy Robertson and Virgil van Dijk, they were THAT bad. The front line looked disjointed from the first whistle and it took Liverpool about ten minutes to find something that crudely resembled rhythm. I don’t want to take anything away from Swansea as this is a big win for them, but I’m bitter, so I will.
Liverpool’s 18-game undefeated run came to a crashing halt on SKY Sports Monday Night Football with a shock 1-0 defeat by bottom club Swansea City, with a display that I must say will absolutely drive their manager Jurgen Klopp insane. Carlos Carvalhal, on the other hand, will be a happy man – he said before the game that he would have a ‘surprise’ lined up for the Reds. Judging on this performance, I dare say it was the Swansea manager that was surprised.
The Swansea goal came from, as Slaven Bilic correctly described, a clash of defending styles. One player, (van Dijk) sensing the danger, and two others (Can and Gomez), totally oblivious to it. However, as much as I hate to do it, a slap on the wrist must be given to the Dutchman, he quite simply, over-reached. Ironically, Virgil van Dijk dealt with a similar situation from a free kick five minutes earlier, yet again reading the danger and heading away a ball that he probably shouldn’t have gone anywhere near, but felt compelled to do so.
I still feel the £75m signing is a bargain in today’s climate, he had an otherwise good game, although he seemed like a man that’s determined to sort out Liverpool’s defensive problems on his own – an impossible task. His distribution was excellent and he was one of Liverpool’s most creative players going forward, which tells its own story. He also combined well with Andy Robertson, Liverpool’s other most creative player on the night, constantly shipping the ball out to the Scotsman on the left and watching him do his thing.
It must be said that Andy Robertson has continued his impressive form, he was constantly working, constantly looking to get a ball into the box, only for Liverpool’s “fab-three” to constantly decline the invitation. Something else I noticed with the left-back, he seldom plays with his head down, Robertson is always searching and always trying to pick a pass. You can tell it doesn’t come naturally to the 23-year-old; he has worked hard on his game and has become one of the Premier League’s most promising talents. Unlike the injured Alberto Moreno, who is quite frankly; a disaster.
On the other side of Liverpool’s defence, it seems that the Moreno/Lovern bug has struck poor Joe Gomez, while still very talented, he is becoming error-prone. The young England right-back almost made another costly error while sliding far too early on Sam Clucas, which thankfully, only led to a disallowed goal. Personally, I would like to see the 20-year-old play as a centre-half alongside van Dijk, who I feel could talk him through the game and help Gomez develop as a defender.
The first half was a very drab affair, with Liverpool rarely troubling Lucasz Fabianski and only managing to launch over the top of the organised Swansea defence. The pick of these was a beauty from van Dijk on the 28th minute, which Salah really should have done better and given Liverpool the lead.
Man of the match Alfie Mawson put Swansea ahead on the 40th minute with a neat finish from poor Liverpool defending. The only positive was Federico Fernandez (who provided the assist) got injured by his teammates celebrating the goal, which serves him right.
The Reds should have been level five minutes later however, Sadio Mane slipped just before he could connect with a gorgeous through ball and he fired wide. This would sum up the game for Liverpool, hindsight being 20-20 and all that.
Speaking of Sadio Mane, he was atrocious. His antics reminded me of a desperate man going to a nightclub ‘on the horn’, looking to go home with anything. His cries for penalties were THAT ludicrous.
The second-half didn’t see a huge improvement for Liverpool and they only really got going after about eight minutes with an effort from the unusually quiet Mo Salah. A minute later, Kyle Naughton pulled off a superb tackle to deny the ever-probing Robertson, just as the full-back was through on goal and was about to pull the trigger.
Adam Lallana, (who is still recovering from a lengthy injury) was brought on to spruce things up for the Reds, he replaced the disappointing Oxlade-Chamberlain and it must be said, Lallana looked way off the pace here which is worrying.
I genuinely felt warm and fuzzy seeing Danny Ings return to the fold, he has been desperately unlucky with injuries and with Daniel Sturridge trying to get his move to Sevilla, Liverpool could really do with a fully fit striker as a Plan B to the “Drab 3”.
Well, a fully fit striker that doesn’t use a note from his mammy to get out of playing games.
Void of ideas and full to the brim with desperation, Liverpool resorted to ridiculous and hopeless long shots which didn’t quite trouble the Swansea goal. That was until the final minute of stoppage time when Virgil van Dijk (that man again) provided a lovely ball into the Swansea box and somehow, Robert Firmino managed to hit the post. Even more incredible was Alfie Mawson’s block from Adam Lallana on the rebound and that was it, three points to the Swans and utter disappointment for the Reds.
Speaking of utter disappointment, Emre Can did little to convince me that Liverpool should do nothing other than – not only allowing the German leave for Juventus – but that they should deliver him to Turin immediately, with a big black and white striped bow on his head.
Look, Emre Can, is a decent passer of the ball, he’s technically sound (like all German players) and can be good in a defensive position. However, he offers nothing in a flowing move as most of the time he struggles with the ball at his feet when he has little time to think. His attempt of a ‘step-over’ on Monday was priceless – I thought my TIVO box had crashed. He doesn’t add to Liverpool’s strengths, he actually hinders them and with a slower pace of football played there, I genuinely feel that Serie A would be perfect for him.
Against the Swans, Liverpool had 71.8% possession and they were hopeless with it. Klopp’s team reminded me of a dog chasing the wheels of a car, they wanted it so bad and yet when they had it, they had no idea what to do with it.
Liverpool are at their best when they are playing teams on the break, forcing the opposition into mistakes and counter-attacking in waves, giving themselves little time to think and relying on instinct. Against Manchester City Liverpool had only 36% possession in a frenetic game yet ran out 4-3 winners, although it must be said, Pep Guardiola was never in a million years going to “park the bus” at Anfield.
It could be argued that in a game like this, they really could have done with Philippe Coutinho to unlock the Swansea defence with a long-range effort and they would certainly have a point. However, I have seen Liverpool struggle in similar games, even with the little Brazilian’s inclusion.
Afterwards, the Swansea manager started to spurt off some nonsense about stopping a Formula One car in rush hour traffic, in that contrived eccentric way, certain continental managers use to make out that they’re really quite brilliant you see. He simply could have said: “we had to sit deep”. Fair play to the Portuguese coach though, he got his tactics spot on, however, he was helped by a horrible Liverpool performance that showed nothing of their attacking prowess, the lack of a ‘siege’ on the Swansea goal proved this.
This was a truly miserable night for Jurgen Klopp, who even managed to have a row with a Swansea fan, whom apparently spent the entire game, attempting (and succeeding) to wind up the charismatic German.
“He was shouting at me all the time and I reacted once,” stated Klopp. “I must remind myself I’m a human being and not just a professional manager who takes that all the time.
“They can say whatever they want, at one point I turned to him and said, ‘Please!’
“It was only one moment when I had enough, it wasn’t to do with the fact we were 1-0 down. I’m sure I am not the first manager who has had a problem with him there, he must be a season ticket holder.
“It was my fault as well. I should not react, but I didn’t say anything bad. I just showed I wasn’t happy about what he was saying.”
This was a night when Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool reminded us all that they are indeed human.
Liverpool will face second-bottom West Brom in the FA Cup on Saturday the 27th of January, live on BT Sport, kick-off 7:45 pm.