Is Jurgen Klopp undergoing his first major Liverpool crisis?
A season full of promise is in danger of unravelling for Liverpool and for the first time Jurgen Klopp is facing a potential crisis at Anfield.
Liverpool saw their route to a Wembley final in the EFL Cup ended by Southampton in midweek and coming off the back of a shock home defeat to then bottom of the table Swansea it has raised serious question marks over how Liverpool’s campaign is going to end.
The next two games against Wolves in the FA Cup and the Premier League clash with leaders Chelsea could shape the rest of Liverpool’s season.
Klopp must now find a way to get his side back on track and quickly with these two vital games in the space of four days.
The German has normally treated FA Cup games as the opportunity to give some of his younger players and fringe players a chance to play, but with the FA Cup now arguably offering Liverpool’s best chance of silverware this season Klopp must now weigh up going in with a stronger side against Wolves even with the Chelsea game on the horizon.
The pressure is on Klopp for the first time during his Anfield tenure and his methods are being questioned with his side seemingly lacking the spark they showed earlier in the campaign.
Liverpool’s recent performances have lacked the intensity and energy of their displays of earlier in the season and that is a major worry with the second half of the season to play.
Now is not the time to be fatigued as the games continue to come thick and fast including the two make-or-break clashes with Wolves and Chelsea.
Klopp cannot afford another cup upset on home soil against Wolves as he needs a response from his faltering side after back-to-back defeats at Anfield.
The swash-buckling performances of free-flowing Liverpool side earlier in the season seem a long time ago as 2017 has not started like Klopp and Liverpool fans thought it would do.
Liverpool have scored just six goals in their past seven games and needed a replay to overcome brave League Two side Plymouth in the last round of the FA Cup.
It seems opposition teams are working out how to play against Liverpool now by counteracting Klopp’s pressing game by defending deep and in numbers and in the process closing down the spaces for Liverpool’s forward players in the final third.
In recent weeks it appears Liverpool have been too predictable in their play with no obvious plan B as they toiled for two games to try and breakdown a resolute Southampton defence without any joy.
Sadio Mane has been a massive miss while he has been away on international duty with Senegal at the African Cup of Nations and there lies the problem for Liverpool they do not have the strength in depth like many of their rivals to cope when some of their star players are absent.
As a result of their slump in form since the turn of the year Liverpool have seen themselves fall down to fourth spot in the table, ten points behind Chelsea.
A few weeks ago the game with Chelsea at Anfield was being billed as a title decider, but victory for Chelsea next Tuesday will all but end Liverpool’s slim hopes of being involved in the title race before we reach February.
Of even bigger concern will be if things do not improve quickly the threat of missing out on the top four altogether grows even bigger and Liverpool cannot afford that if they want to continue making strides against their rivals.
The danger signs are there for everyone to see with Liverpool and their campaign is at a crossroads and failure to navigate the next two games could result in Klopp’s side crashing and burning.
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