llLiverpool’s 2-1 defeat against Manchester United on Sunday has left the Reds trailing by five points off top four.
A lot has been written on Steven Gerrard’s dismissal and what went wrong for Liverpool against their arch rivals. A high octane derby defeat can be a psychological blow for any team, but Liverpool will have to bounce back if they are to have any chances of qualifying for the Champions League.
Rodgers will have to find a way to motivate his players and make sure they make a strong comeback, like they did last time after losing to United at Old Trafford.
The international break has come at a good time for the Reds. Sometimes getting away from club commitments helps to come back fresh and start building a momentum. Here are four problems Rodgers must sort out immediately:
Getting the shape right
Rodgers can be very stubborn at times, as Sam Allardyce pointed out he doesn’t always change his plans according to opposition. Which is a good thing of course. A manager should have his own idea and plans but sometimes you also need to do sufficient homework on others strength and weaknesses as well.
Just because Liverpool were on a winning run, the obvious short comings weren’t looked after. The first half against Swansea was an eye-opener. There was hardly any link between midfield and forward lines and in order to accommodate the quartet of Lallana, Sturridge, Sterling and Coutinho, Liverpool have lost a bit of fluency in their game.
Liverpool have made a significant improvement in defence, but collectively they’re still shaky. The wing backs can be vulnerable, while Can, who is a very good player and has a bright future, needs to work on his position.
Sorting out the midfield
That brings us to the midfield problem. Joe Allen divides opinion, and rightly so. The Welshman has done well in absence of Lucas, but with him the midfield gets completely dominated by a physically imposing midfield set-up, especially against a three-man midfield.
Allen is a team player, tidy, good on the ball but he needs to offer more. He has the legs to cover more area than Michael Carrick but needs to be incisive with his forward passings.
With Steven Gerrard now out of action for sometime now, may be Rodgers can give Lucas a run in the side till the end of the season.
Now seriously what’s wrong with him? For a while let us not discuss about his contract situation. Rodgers clearly mentioned that he wants to focus on football and will discuss the matter in the summer.
Fair enough, but is his performance anywhere near acceptable recently?
F365 writer Sarah Winterburn notes this in her 16-conclusion. She writes:
“It was clear within five minutes that Sterling was both unhappy and unsuited to the role. There was some petulant waving of hands when the ball did not come his way, nothing as energetic as a trot when Daley Blind went past him, and at one point in the first half he had completed just two of his eight attempted passes. Funnily enough, putting your joint top scorer at wing-back does not fill your joint top scorer with joy. It turns out that leaving him on the bench does not work out fantastically well either.”
Sterling is dangerous when he is asked to go at the defenders. His position (playing out wide, as Rodgers himself admitted after the Newcastle game that Sterling’s impact on the game is restricted with that role) forbids this but he has been guilty of poor decision making from time to time and has slowed the game down enabling the opposition to regroup.
Goals drying up for the Reds
And shockingly goals and drying up for Liverpool. The Reds have just managed 7 goals in last six games, with the team failing to create sufficient chances for themselves.
Against Manchester United they had only one shot on target (that resulted into goal) while there was an acute lack of creativity observed against Swansea as well.
Is it down to system? Or the players need to step up? How Liverpool can rescue their season from here on? Have your say below…