Liverpool clashes with Burnley have rarely assumed as much significance as Thursday night’s encounter now holds.
Winless in their last four, anything less than three points at Anfield will constitute a disaster for the Reds.
The Clarets are the sole Premier League team yet to reach double figures in the goals scored column this season. With Joel Matip expected to return, Fabinho in the form of his life and Alisson Becker fresh off the back of proving why he’s the number one goalkeeper in the world, that particular end of the pitch should not be the issue.
If asked pre-season which department Liverpool would find their greatest struggles in, we’d wager not one of you would state the scoring of goals.
Flat, toothless, inept. Call it what you want, Liverpool’s recent attacking displays have been a far cry from what we’re accustomed to seeing.
In times of need people turn to leaders. Jurgen Klopp has led this group of players to the holy grail, but six months on is seemingly in the midst of his greatest challenge yet.
Jamie Carragher outlined his concerns over Roberto Firmino’s dip in form masking a rather more permanent decline. The Brazilian has been off-colour for 18 months now. Even the most optimistic of Liverpool fans now knows his best days are behind him.
Jamie Carragher is worried for Roberto Firmino 😟😬 pic.twitter.com/ozfm9kNYFg
— Goal (@goal) January 19, 2021
But Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane’s downswings are surprising. The service from full-back has not been to the usual standard. But even when provided gilt-edged opportunities, the duo have often flattered to decieve.
It is a major problem, and one that Klopp must solve immediately or risk their season’s objective switching from title retention to securing top four.
Those searching for answers may have sought out Klopp’s pre-Burnley press conference.
The German was asked at length how the course of Liverpool’s drifting season could be corrected, but the answers he gave did not convince.
“We know we are not where we want to be but the reasons are not too important,” said Klopp (via the Liverpool Echo).
“We just fight. People get unhappy with performances when results are not there. You can win the game with one lucky strike. We have to play our football to a high level. In final third we haven’t.
“[We need to be] close to perfection. There is no perfect season it is just dealing with the situation and the amount of games. All the teams had a dip here and there. Some sorted it. I understand the need to talk about it but we can’t change it in a minute.
“You can imagine the day is 24 hours and we think about a lot of stuff. Most of the things the public thinks of we do as well but we have to be calm. No catastrophe, just not perfect. Need to be as good as we can be.”
Specifically regarding the lack of goals, Klopp added: “It’s about the whole team. Goals are not flying in, so we have to work on it. We will score again. Stones at City, scores 3, cannot explain it. Need to stay calm, greedy and make good decisions and the situation will change. That is it.
“I think I heard somewhere I have to rebuild this team! The world is a crazy place now and not just because of the pandemic. No-one has time anymore. We have to change this by playing, not talking.”
Klopp is a fantastic orator and inspires untold confidence and loyalty within his troops, but there is a distinct lack of substance in his message.
The problems are identified en masse, but precisely how Liverpool go about solving them is glaringly absent.
Of course, we don’t expect Klopp to divulge his tactics in great detail in a public press conference. But those quotes read like he is hoping things improve rather than expecting.
Klopp has done truly wonderful things at Liverpool’s helm, but he is human after all and is not immune to mistakes. Let’s not forget the reason Diogo Jota is currently absent is because of an injury sustained when curiously selected in the Champions League dead rubber versus Midtjylland.
Liverpool are in desperate need of a boost right now. That press conference suggests such a lift may not be as easy to achieve as we all first thought.