What has gone wrong with Liverpool? Lack of goals, no creativity and defensive injuries behind surprise slump

The goals have largely dried up for Liverpool’s vaunted front three

Who is at fault?

Roberto Firmino has scored just five goals in 17 league appearances, three of which came in back-to-back matches just before Christmas, Sadio Mane has two in his last 12 – also in successive games last month – despite offering a greater threat going forward. Mohamed Salah (13 in 16) is the only player showing consistency and he has drawn a blank in his last three matches. Diogo Jota, who with five goals is the only other player who has managed more than one league goal this season, is not due to return from injury until the end of January.

Why have the goals stopped flowing?

There has been a creativity vacuum in midfield as injury has robbed Klopp of Thiago Alcantara, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri for various parts of the season. The manager has had to rely heavily on captain Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum and 19-year-old Curtis Jones in midfield – a trio which have contributed just two goals between them – with Jones the most attack-minded of the three.

Klopp has been without a number of key players

So is the midfield at fault?

Not entirely. Much of Liverpool’s success last season came from their marauding full-backs and while Andy Robertson has been the most consistent player this season, Trent Alexander-Arnold is struggling. The England right-back set an unwanted, new Premier League record for the season after giving the ball away 38 times against Southampton. Unfortunately Klopp’s options at full-back are limited with Kostas Tsimikas out injured and teenager Neco Williams inconsistent.

Are there any other underlying issues?

Problems at centre-back – with Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez likely to be out for most, if not all, of the season and Joel Matip regularly sustaining knocks – means it has been something of a muddle. Fabinho has played the majority of games in central defence, thus depriving Klopp of a key midfielder, and teenager Rhys Williams and the relatively-inexperienced Nat Phillips have been in and out of the team. The Henderson-Fabinho combination at Southampton was their 10th different starting centre-back pairing in 17 league matches, which has only added to the uncertaint


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