There were many disappointments around of Liverpool failed attack against Chelsea but are the Reds’ top 4 hopes over?
It was another game to forget on Saturday afternoon as Jurgen Klopp’s side were held to a dull 0-0 draw by the Blues at Anfield.
It is a shadow of the Liverpool side that have almost won all four tournaments this season, with the same problems every week.
Here, Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) is joined by Adam Beattie (@beatts94) and Rory Greenfield (@RoryGreenfield) to discuss the Reds’ attacking failures and their Champions League hopes.
Early thoughts on Gakpo?
RORY: Gakpo had a rough start to his career in Liverpool.
Liverpool fans are used to strikers having an almost instant impact, most notably Diaz, who was superb on his arrival and was a key reason Liverpool competed in four tournaments last season.
The difference with Gakpo is twofold.
Firstly, he moves into a Liverpool team whose confidence has been eroded and whose trajectory is spiraling – the exact opposite of what it was 12 months ago.
Second, Gakpo is a striker unlike the others in the team, more comfortable in a support role than a focus, and it’s obvious.
With Nunes back, that should allow it Gakpo to play his natural game, but it is clear that he will not be a savior in the fight against the attack.
ADAM: I agree with Rory that it’s been a tough start for him, but I don’t think he would have been able to play as many minutes if it weren’t for the injuries.
We know Klopp likes to watch players and give them time to settle in before turning them into a regular team player, and unfortunately for Cody, he was dropped at a really difficult time and asked to quickly become a hero.
He looked bad against Chelsea though, as most do, and I was very surprised to see him stay in the center when Nunes was introduced.
I would like to see Gakpo on the left and Nunes as a center forward, but those decisions are left to the coach and I’m still very grateful that this is the case.
HENRY: It’s foolish to criticize him too much so early, but we need more of him.
Now, Gakpo definitely doesn’t have Diaz’s x-factor — honestly, I thought he was faster than that!
But he’s on a struggling team and occasionally plays out of position, so I wouldn’t fully condemn him until after everything breaks down again.
The only Liverpool player to score in our last four league games is Oxlade-Chamberlain: where are the goals?!
ADAM: Not only do we lack goals, but we don’t encourage that anything is about to change.
The system looked a bit mixed against Chelsea and the teams played like they didn’t know each other.
The only hope we have is that when these injuries subside we can get back to some normal play in front of goal, but at the moment I’m not sure I can say that with any degree of certainty.
We should not rely on Eliot playing wide left or out of position at all, and it really shows the lack of reliable options we have at the moment.
Short answer: I have no idea what Liverpool’s goal looks like right now and I don’t know where the next one will come from.
Henry: I’m with Adam — playing Elliott on the left didn’t make sense and, predictably, didn’t work.
He doesn’t have the speed to get out on the flank and the attack from the right is much more effective and this has made life easier for Chelsea’s defence.
Liverpool have gone from being the most cohesive attacking team in Europe to a bunch of strangers regardless of the line-up.
The lack of service, of course, does not save, but yesterday there were moments when there was an awful lot of traffic, and the level of finishing leaves a lot to be desired.
They look as toothless as Everton in the final third and that’s the worst thing I can say!
Five games without goals and assists, what’s wrong with Salah?
RORY: Last season he was supporting of Liverpool attacks from time to time, but unfortunately, like many others lately, he seems to be rethinking things that were once natural.
Salah works best on instinct – his dribbling has always been erratic, but his speed, power and determination see him terrorize defenses time and time again.
He seems expressionless, afraid to commit and a shadow of the player we all know, but he is far from alone.
Klopp will be hoping Hotta, Firmino and Diaz return with a bang because before then it’s hard to know where the goals will be scored.
Darwin’s return will help create chaos, but right now, no one is sure he can benefit.
ADAM: The best example of Mo’s struggle came midway through the first half.
He took the ball right in the penalty area, and the fully confident Salah tried to get away Kukurella from there before bending the ball into the far corner.
Instead, not even allowing himself an opportunity to fight the defender, he struck from an almost impossible angle and didn’t let Kepa think about anything.
It’s indicative of the entire squad at the moment, as if no one really believes in their abilities, and Salah is probably struggling in that regard as much as anyone.
Henry: When Mo can’t find the net, that means there’s trouble!
To be honest, I don’t think he was even remotely close to his best from last year’s AFCON – he had his way in the second half of last season, but looked exhausted.
There are concerns that at 30 he has just hit his peak as a footballer, but he is a physical machine and I expect it to be nothing more than a (slightly long-term) decline.
However, he clearly looks less dangerous and some of his decisions and late goals do not indicate that he is a world-class player.
To be honest, I think there are much more serious issues at the moment than Salah. He will be OK.
We are now ten points behind Newcastle and Manchester United. Did Liverpool convert their top four chances?
RORY: This side needs to change something – the performance where it suddenly clicks and the players remember what quality they have.
As the game wore on, there was no sign of a winner coming. The more changes Liverpool make, the more disjointed they become.
When the whistle blew, I could only wonder what would come next. In the past you would support of Klopp team to last the rest of the season, now you’re wondering when the next win will come.
ADAM: Newcastle dropping the points was a bonus, but we’re not really helping ourselves with this performance, and the number of teams that are unhappy means we have more work to do than we look capable of.
It’s night and day from the side we saw last season and I’m struggling to find a way home for us that will see us finish above Newcastle and United, which is a depressing thought when there’s still so much football to be played.
A result in isolation is not the end of the world, but we have shown nothing to show that we have overcome our recent difficulties and perhaps we took more from the show at Molineux than we should have.
To be 10 points behind Newcastle is not what we expected after a season where we almost won.
Henry: Until now, I was optimistic that we would make the top four even during our struggle.
The last few games have made me think that Liverpool need a miracle right now because it is simply impossible to see them winning five or six in a row.
Also, Newcastle and United look strong and stable at the moment. They seem pretty nailed on the third and fourth.
Of course I thought the same way in 2020/21 season and we’ve won eight and drawn two of the last 10, with Phillips and Williams at the end, but right now this team feels broken.