Clichés exist for a reason. The phrase “goals win you matches; defence wins you championships” exists for a reason. On Sunday, Liverpool showed why saying they could win the evasive 19th league title was erroneous.
Liverpool’s performance against Bournemouth was a mix of good, bad and ugly, in that order. They started the game positively, and first half goals from Divock Origi and Sadio Mané put them comfortably on top. The Cherries pulled one back, but Emre Can responded quickly, and Liverpool were once again leading 3-1. They should have seen the game out. They didn’t.
Ryan Fraser‘s introduction inspired the home side to make an incredible turnaround, and Howe deserves enormous credit for the same, but it was Liverpool’s flawed mentality that cost them the game. They looked second best in the second half and couldn’t deal with the inspired home side. Once Bournemouth got their second, the Reds always looked like conceding the equalizer. And they did.
Loris Karius’ questionable defending for Nathan Ake’s winning goal resulted in the Reds leaving the Vitality Stadium with zero points. Just the second defeat this season, Klopp will have a lot to ponder before the next game.
Karius not doing enough
A lot of pundits have been skeptical of Karius’ goalkeeping, and his performance against Bournemouth validated their opinion. Many are asking for the recall of Simon Mignolet in the starting eleven, although it would be unlikely that Klopp replaces the German goalkeeper with his Belgian counterpart on the back of one bad performance. Karius has been brought in to be Liverpool’s long-term number one, and it seems ill-advised to lower the confidence of such a player.
Liverpool are going to miss Joel Matip more than Philippe Coutinho
Joel Matip has quietly made himself a hugely important part of the team. He has been consistent since he started featuring for the side, and his possible long-term absence could be a huge blow for the team. The question then raised is, why does Klopp think that he only has two centre-backs at his disposal?
Ragnar Klavan was brought in bolster the squad’s back-line. Why doesn’t Klopp use him as a substitute when needed? Why is Lucas being employed at the back, when a centre-back is present in the squad?
Perhaps, it’s time for Klopp to bring Joe Gomez back to the squad. The young Englishman has made a return from a year-long injury just a few weeks back, and has been playing with the youth teams. If Klopp doesn’t trust Klavan or Sakho at the back, it makes more sense to use Gomez, or deploy an academy player, rather than use Lucas, who has always proved to be iffy at the back.
The loss at Bournemouth is not the end of the world for Liverpool. However, the match does raise some pertinent questions, and in a very competitive season, Klopp must find the answers in time.