Led by the superb attacking trio consisting of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho the Reds took another impressive 3-1 victory at home against Arsenal this Saturday. The Arsenal performance was very disappointing and their French manager Arsene Wenger looks to make his last months in the Gunners dugout after over 20 years of loyal service. The Liverpool win came only five days after that the same team lost to Leicester, who despite being the reigning champions are much closer to bottom than the top of the table this season.
Of Liverpool's five losses this season, all of them have remarkable been against teams placed between 12-20th position in the table, while they remain unbeaten against all teams in the positions 1-11. In total, the team have taken an average of 2.3 points per game against teams in the top half of the table (positions 1-10), while the average of the teams in position 11-20 is 1.65 points per game. In comparison, yesterday's opponents Arsenal's record against the same segment of the table is on average 1.27 points per game (1-10) and against the lower half of the average 2.4 points per game.
A view of Liverpool’s performances against the different parts of the table this season
The conclusion that can be drawn is that if Liverpool performed equally well against the bottom half of the table as they do against the top would have had another 10 points and been situated only 4 points behind league leaders Chelsea instead of 14 points, as they currently do.
A peer table between the top six teams from the season 16-17 would look as follows:
Liverpool 9 matches, 19 points
Chelsea 8 games, 13 points
Tottenham 8 games, 9 points
Man City 6 games, 7 points
Man Utd 6 matches, 6 points
Arsenal 7 games, 5 points
On the one hand, it is important to beat teams around yourself, since these points means that the opponent can not win themselves, but on the other hand it requires from a team that will fight for the title and the Champions League places that you can win the on paper easier games against teams like Burnley and Hull.
Jorgen Klopp 'Gegenpress Football “seems to work much better against the teams that are attempting to win matches, whereas Liverpool have struggled teams that play with a low defensive line and mainly focus on the defending parts of the game. The team's game philosophy is very much based on high tempo with pressure on the ball carrier and rapid changes like during the 3-1 goal against Arsenal is something we have seen repeatedly against teams such as Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City, after Jorgen Klopp took over as the managerial position from Brendan Rodgers in October last year.
One problem for Liverpool that can be missed in the discussion is the individual mistakes made by both defenders and goalkeepers during this season. Players such as Loris Karius (against Bournemouth) and Lucas Leiva (against Leicester) have endured harsh criticism and perhaps this is where the shortcomings have occurred for Liverpool against weaker teams, rather than in attacking. Another clear weakness for this year's Liverpool team is the lack of speed in the defence. We have seen the team been punished by counterattacks on their own counterattacks from other teams and although Joel Matip is one of the faster centre-backs in the league, his replacements Ragnar Klavan and Lucas Leiva have struggled with the pace of the opposing on several occasions, when Matip or his regular central defender colleague Dejan Lovren have been missing due to injury or suspension.
A new central defender will most likely be high up on Jorgen Klopp´s wish list ahead of summer transfer window and after Mamadou Sakhos strong start after his move to Crystal Palace, there are reasons to question the treatment of the Frenchman addressed towards the disciplinary problems of the former Paris SG captain have been reported to have had, especially during the team’s summer training camp in USA. Among potential new potential acquisitions from the Premier League, Southampton's Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk should be a handy addition to the defensive department, especially considering the two clubs former business together, where Liverpool have bought players like Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren from the south coast club.
On the positive note, it may be said that the speed and attacking game of this year’s Liverpool side have improved significantly compared to recent seasons. Jorgen Klopp has started to build a strong collective, which is not as dependent on individual performance as Brendan Rodgers team (Suarez and Sturridge) many times was. If the club manage to qualify for next year's Champions League, they also have a grmuch bigger chance to add the extra reinforcements needed to really challenge for the league title next season. But for this to happen, the team first have to win some of the season's remaining games against opponents such as Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough. Can Liverpool turn around the negative trend or will the team just like Robin Hood once again hand out gifts to the ones who will need it in the relegation battle of this year’s Premier League?