Liverpool's First Defeat Of The Season: Lessons For Jurgen Klopp

by Sumit Haldar
27th Sep 2018

The use of VAR was at fault on the first goal against Liverpool. However, the second goal will remain in the memory of the Chelsea fans for a long time. It was a finish you would expect from a world class player like Eden Hazard. His devastating run, a sudden change in direction and the perfect strike from an acute angle left Liverpool very little time to come back into the match. The first instalment of the double header against Chelsea ended Jurgen Klopp's winning streak this season. Without a doubt, the Carabao Cup was at the bottom of the priority list among the four competitions. The loss will probably not hurt Klopp's grand project plans that much. However, he must have learnt a lot more about his team than he has in the last two months.

Back Four
Jurgen made four changes at the back since the last game including Simon Mignolet in goal. To be fair, most of them did their job well except in a few situations when Dejan Lovren and Alberto Moreno looked a bit rusty and slow. Lovren has an inherent weakness of adjusting to the flight of the ball. In one instance, he gave away an easy chance to Morata who failed to lob the ball over Mignolet. Could Moreno have done better in defending Hazard for the second goal? Probably. Moreno quite easily let Hazard go when he should have stuck with the Belgian's run and blocked his shot. Instead, he lost Hazard in his twisted move of inside and out. Regardless of the VAR decision, Liverpool's defence looked suspect in set pieces without Virgil Van Dijk - a malaise from the past that we haven't yet seen this season.

In the midfield, Klopp gave Fabinho his first start of the season. Tactical demand in a new surrounding can be daunting, even for the very best. The Brazilian is still adjusting to Klopp’s system and English physicality. Initially he was cautious, unaware of his position. As the match progressed, he looked more settled and composed. Fabinho will need more game time, especially against smaller teams to stamp his style on this Liverpool team.

Keita seems to be slowly getting into the rhythm of Klopp's style. His intelligent runs and positioning were critical to some of the attacking prowess. However, his final third passing and decision making needs a lot of improvement.

On the whole, Jurgen should have few concerns about his new midfield recruits given the fact that they have played very few minutes together this season. We don't expect an overnight transformation, but they do need to spend time together to gel. Klopp has been very decisive about slowly integrating the new players into the new system much like what he did with Oxlade-Chamberlain last year, but perhaps this match wasn't the one to make so many changes in.

Front Three
Yes, Daniel Sturridge scored a beautiful goal, but he had more than one opportunity to put the game to bed. He will never be a pressing player of the calibre of Bobby Firmino, however his strike rate and clinical finish will always be an asset that Klopp may have to fall back on many times this season. Liverpool must focus on providing better service to Sturridge than what they did in the Chelsea game. The brightest part of last night's performance was surely Xherdan Shaqiri. In a short time, he has perfectly blended into Klopp's system. Klopp may have exchanged a few strong words regarding his stoppage-time free kick, but it was not a glaring example of his fringe player failing to deliver. Shaqiri looked potent every time he touched the ball. On the whole, Liverpool's front line seemed sharp and ready for a long season ahead.

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