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13th Sep 2022

Robbie Fowler identifies one simple reason that could explain Liverpool’s poor form

Lee Costello

“The clue seems to be in their running stats.”

What is going on at Liverpool? How can something that was so right, go so wrong in such a short space of time?

Well former Anfield legend Robbie Fowler believes that there is one simple reason behind the underwhelming performances of Jurgen Klopp’s teams right now.

“It looks like Liverpool have some real problems, there’s no doubt about that, and no hiding from it either,” Fowler wrote in his column for The Mirror.

“I’ve never seen a Klopp team that was so open, that wasn’t compact in any way in the defensive transition. So you have to look at other issues, and the chief amongst them is injuries.

“I’m not saying having four midfielders injured is an excuse, I’m saying Liverpool made an error in not planning for those injuries.

“They made the big mistake of thinking numbers meant quality, but that’s not always the case when you look at the profile of those making up the numbers. Jurgen Klopp said nine was enough in his midfield and it was last season,” said Fowler.

Liverpool take on Ajax tonight in their second Champions League game of the campaign, and their first match since the humiliating defeat away to Napoli.

Another loss would be a huge blow to the team’s chances of reaching the knockout stages, and Fowler hopes that they don’t suffer a repeat of last week’s blushes, particularly when it comes to their defence.

“But that still doesn’t explain the total lack of structure against Napoli, of shape and discipline. I’ve never seen a Klopp team that was so open, that wasn’t compact in any way in the defensive transition.

“This may sound so simple that it seems I’m just talking nonsense, but the whole idea of staying as compact as possible in defence is one of the principles of play, it is one of the fundamental building blocks of football. If you don’t have it, you don’t win. What’s the opposite of compact?

“Whatever it is, that’s what Liverpool have been so often this season. Why? Well it seemed as though Klopp didn’t know on Wednesday.

“But the clue seems to be in their running stats. Less distance covered than every opponent so far this season, less intense runs, less sprints. Why? It’s not that they suddenly can’t run, that’s far too simplistic.

“Maybe Klopp has decided to try and control games, run less to see them through a ridiculous season with a World Cup in the middle. But that isn’t working because he doesn’t have his midfield controllers in Thiago, Naby Keita and Curtis Jones.

Fowler added: “Maybe it’s even simpler than that. Maybe it’s the shortened summer and the training periods they had after a long season. Perhaps they tried to do too much fitness in too short a space of time, or even not enough. That would explain the injuries either way.”

Liverpool play Ajax tonight on BT Sport with coverage starting at 7pm.

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