Our mediocre midfield are responsible for Liverpool failings

Liverpool, Fabinho (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images)
Liverpool, Fabinho (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images) /

Liverpool’s midfield is largely responsible for their disastrous drop in form over the past four games.

Jurgen Klopp, if you’ll recall, didn’t do much summer business in 2019. Klopp at the time said he felt confident in the side he had. In the next window, come January, they bought Takumi Minamino from RB Salzburg, a forward attacking player.

They haven’t spent in the midfield since bringing on Fabinho. They haven’t found a replacement for Philippe Coutinho. The injury to Jordan Henderson, who is in the best form of his career, has revealed this lack of spending in an otherwise mediocre midfield.

Liverpool have been able to scrape by for the most part with hard work, overachieving in the midfield at times, and by establishing full-backs as the basis for attacking in the final third. This worked well all last season and for a large chunk of this campaign as well.

But the injury to Hendo has exposed a severe lack of midfield quality in this side and not much to speak of in reserve. Adam Lallana just isn’t good enough, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain hasn’t gotten it done, and Naby Keita has fallen far short of what has been required. Georginio Wijnaldum has been the most consistent, followed closely by Fabinho. But since Hendo was dropped from that midfield the results are ominous.

The key to controlling football matches and setting the tone and pace of play is largely dependent on winning the midfield. The early tackles and taking possession early, the aerial duals and second balls, being controlled and pushed forward in the attack. Being able to pass the ball through the midfield, in the run of play from the back line is imperative.

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For 25 Premiere League fixtures this campaign, Liverpool were able to do this in most matches for the most part. Utilizing the wide play of the full backs to push the attack while taking pressure off that woefully thin midfield.

But after two ridiculously successful seasons, the competition has caught on and made adjustments that only now are exposing this glaringly obvious weakness.

Liverpool have lost three of their last four ties across all competitions, and they have lost the midfield battles in all four.

By pinning those full backs in the back third or on their side of the midline, they force Liverpool to play through the middle of the park. And without Hendo, this is something they have yet to prove they can do.

If you couple this with all the hype around invincibility and records each time they take the pitch, then we have a prescription for disaster in the making. It becomes too much for these lads to keep their concentration.

Take a look at Arsenal’ s Invincible season, specifically how they bombed out of the FA cup and Champions League, in early spring, while dropping points in several draws in their run in to the title. The pressure is exhausting and nearly insurmountable. That’s why it’s only been accomplished once.

Liverpool still need two world class midfielders to have the complete package and a bench to support it. And it’s time Dejan Lovren and Lallana find the door. I know these lads are among Klopp’s favorites but Lovren has cost the Reds dearly too many times now to continue disregarding his slowness, lack of positional awareness and mediocre defensive shifts. Lallana has been equally mediocre albeit with a flash of flare and brilliance here and there.

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But you don’t win midfield battles with mediocrity, and mediocre defensive shifts. You certainly don’t win trebles and multiple titles with mediocrity. These lads have given their best, but it just isn’t good enough for the task Klopp has assigned to this squad.

Their competitors in the league and on the continent have figured this out and Klopp and Liverpool are now required to answer for a questionable midfield in the run in to what was once the finest season a Liverpool side ever laid down.