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Klopp’s failure to adapt sees Liverpool ruthlessly and painfully exploited

It is not just a slip by Liverpool, it is a swallow dive off a cliff face.

The stats, if anyone at Anfield is brave enough to view them, genuinely defy belief.

31 points worse off than a year ago, just nine from the last 11 games since they were top of the Premier League at Christmas.

The first time in almost 100 years they have lost four consecutive league games at home.

Only two defending Premier League champions have done worse at this stage of the campaign. Ever.

It goes on. And on.

Klopp’s cursed smile during the defeat to the Toffees

Perhaps the most pertinent statistic of all in a city so passionate about football, is the one where Everton win at Anfield for the first time in 22 years.

It tells the story of a seemingly immortal team becoming all too human once more.

The question is, why?

The answer, of course, was delivered perfectly by Carlo Ancelotti’s clever, tactically disciplined side on enemy territory, as they exploited the weaknesses identified by their manager in the pre-match team meeting.

As Graeme Souness said in his post match summary, the Reds have gone from a team no one wanted to play against, to an easy touch everyone wants to meet.

Everton players celebrate Richarlison's opener at Liverpool
Everton players celebrate Richarlison’s opener

Everton’s leader Michael Keane didn’t put it quite so bluntly, but speaking post-match about a famous victory, he did – unwittingly but clinically – deliver the answers to where Liverpool have suddenly become so vulnerable.

“In the team meeting the manager said ‘what have you learned from the past, and how do we want to approach this’,” the man of the match explained.

“We knew what to expect from them. They are a great team but if you defend well, track the runners, work really hard then you can frustrate them. Obviously this season, there is space to hit them on the counter attack and we took advantage.

“It was all tactical things, it was about the centre halves not getting sucked in when Firmino drops because they look to get Salah and Mane in behind when that happens.

There was more frustration for Salah and co.

“They like to press high, it was about how we are going to play through that, how we are going to cope with it.

“I’m glad it worked really well for us.”

Put simply, Liverpool are still trying to play exactly like they are title-winning Gods, when their current personnel is distinctly mortal.

Decimated by injury, they are still playing a high defensive line, without the pace and presence of van Dijk and Gomez to resist counters.

They are also still trying to play a high energy, high press, despite lacking Fabinho or Henderson in midfield to provide cover when it is passed through. Thiago, for all his much-lauded attributes, is no holding midfielder in this system.

And up front, sides know how to frustrate Liverpool now too. Swamp Salah and Mane; let Firmino, the weak link in front of goal, have that responsibility.

He missed three chances here, and Everton’s tactics were evident.

Liverpool's Roberto Firmino
Everton were happy for Firmino to shoot from distance

It still requires discipline to implement them though, and the visitors had it.

They defended with aggression, Jordan Pickford produced three fine saves, and Richarlison and sub Calvert-Lewin exposed the vulnerability and lack of pace at the heart of defence for the goals.

It led to a famous victory and famous celebrations in the visiting dressing room.

“It was unbelievable to see scenes like that. It has been so long, Seamus has been here for 11 or 12 years, Big Dunc as well, Keane said.

“To see what it means to them, they sort of get emotional about it and it just lets you know how much it really means. It’s absolutely massive.

“We had belief today that we could do it, to a man we were outstanding, we defended really well and took our chances.

“We are just really happy that during these tough times we can make our fans really happy.”




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