From the boardroom to the pitch, Liverpool have plenty to blame themselves for this season. The club’s failure to recruit an additional midfielder last summer has proven costly as Jordan Henderson and Fabinho continue to perform well below the standards set in last few years, while its backline has been far too easily exploited. Even Jurgen Klopp himself has faced scrutiny over his team selection, set up and substitutions.
However, while much of Liverpool’s woes have been of their own making, their misfortune with injuries has been out of their control. The likes of Thiago, Ibrahima Konate, Luis Diaz, and Diogo Jota have all missed significant portions of the season because of injury and it’s hard to imagine that the Reds’ push for a top-four finish would be in it’s current dire state had they all been available more consistently.
A double from Jota in Liverpool’s 3-2 win at home to Nottingham Forest reminded the Reds of what they’ve missed in his absence. His poacher’s instinct guided him to head home the opener from point-blank range before he neatly controlled Andy Robertson’s free kick and restored Liverpool’s lead with three superb touches. Following his brace at Leeds, Jota looks back to his clinical best after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
That proved enough for the hosts to edge out a victory on Saturday despite some familiar defensive mishaps. Nottingham Forest constantly threatened going forward and could well have equalized for a third time. But on this occasion, Jota’s performance at the other end compensated for Liverpool’s lack of security at the back.
With a full strength squad, Klopp is spoiled for choice up front. Even after Bobby Firmino departs this summer, the German will still boast an enviable selection of forwards in Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez, Mohammed Salah, Diaz and Jota. Unfortunately, he cannot say the same about the other areas of his squad as none of his midfielders have impressed throughout the campaign, while Joel Matip and Joe Gomez have proven to be liabilities when Klopp has called upon them.
Even Virgil Van Djik has looked helpless at times this season and Liverpool’s frailty at the back on Saturday will do little to ease concerns about his dip in form, or raise confidence about the midweek trip to West Ham who put four past Bournemouth and Gent in back to back 4-0 and 4-1 wins.
All signs point to another difficult 90 minutes for Liverpool’s back four in London. Chances are the Reds will once again depend on their forwards to produce the goods if they are to come out on top.