Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool still winless after Manchester United’s defeat: What is going wrong this season? | football news

“It’s a game where it was 100% clear what United would do,” Jurgen Klopp said. “Were they more aggressive than us at the beginning? Probably yes. It was exactly the game United wanted to play.”

There was a time when Liverpool played with that intensity but not now. The loss to Manchester United means they have failed to win any of their first three Premier League games of the season for the first time in a decade.

The previous two were not lost, in fact the previous 21 were not lost, but a trend is emerging. Liverpool have now conceded the first goal in their last seven Premier League games. Slow starts have become a feature of Klopp’s team.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights of Manchester United’s victory against Liverpool

He’s long since moved away from the heavy metal football that was the hallmark of his early years. Liverpool are much more of a possession team now, the stats show that. But it was still jarring to see them so passive at Old Trafford. To see the biting bit.

“They weren’t in the races at all,” said Jamie Carragher. sky sports. “United were outstanding but Liverpool weren’t ready for a derby. They didn’t seem to be ready for the game and that will worry Jurgen Klopp at the moment.”

United ran 118 more high-intensity runs than Liverpool on Monday night, covering 3.1km more ground. It was unusual to see United show so much energy, but Liverpool fans are getting used to seeing their team rushed.

Crystal Palace also surpassed them by three kilometers. Fulham covered almost seven more kilometers in the opening weekend as Liverpool ran less there than in any of their Premier League games last season. Fulham did 426 more high-intensity runs.

It’s been a strangely slow start.

There’s more to the game than running, of course. Liverpool’s change in focus reflects changes in staff. Thiago collects passes. Fabinho controls from deep. But it was Jordan Henderson and James Milner at Old Trafford. That has to mean energy.

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Jurgen Klopp felt that Manchester United started more aggressively than Liverpool

This was only the third time they had paired up in midfield in the last 32 Premier League games and it didn’t work out. With Milner now 36, it may not work many more times in the future. Lacking creativity and speed, Liverpool looked tired.

Even in his prime, Klopp’s midfield has been cursed with feeble praise over the years, with functional being the most used word. The job was not to mark or create, but to stifle and recycle, extend play to attacking full-backs and sustain attacks.

That was enough when the forward three were shooting, but the composition of this Liverpool team is now a bit different in attack too. Sadio Mane has been sold and while there is optimism that he has been replaced by an exciting talent, the skill set is not the same.

Roberto Firmino's heat map for Liverpool against Manchester United
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Roberto Firmino’s heat map for Liverpool against Manchester United

First of all, Roberto Firmino, 31 years old in October, is moving further and further away from the opposing goal. There were some clean touches against Manchester United, but they didn’t get anywhere near the penalty area and that puts a huge onus on the strikers to score goals.

Klopp pointed out that Mohamed Salah was operating too much in the first half and an adjustment was made, but Luis Diaz is a different kind of player than Mane. His goal against Crystal Palace was magnificent but he is not finding the positions that his predecessor did.

Luis Diaz's shot map for Liverpool in the 2022/23 Premier League season
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Luis Diaz’s shot map for Liverpool in the 2022/23 Premier League season

Darwin Núñez, Benfica’s new signing, is a natural center forward and can be expected to make a difference in this regard. Diogo Jota will also help. He can be a poacher inside the box and his return from injury adds options and intensity in attack.

Against United, Klopp’s only attacking substitution was the introduction of youngster Fabio Carvalho. The teenager did well, but he is not ideal. The final change was a similar move at left back, bringing in Kostas Tsimikas for Andy Robertson. That tells a story.

It’s the crux of the matter for Klopp at the moment: how many of these issues can be resolved once the injury crisis has subsided? For now, he can point to what he calls the witch’s curse, but how many of them could be here to stay even if he has a full squad available?

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah and teammate Andrew Robertson walk off the pitch at the end of the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford Stadium, in Manchester, England on Monday, August 22, 2022. ( AP Photo/ Dave Thompson)
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Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Andrew Robertson trudge from the pitch at Old Trafford

Liverpool have been smart in their efforts to evolve the team, bringing in hungry young talent as others pass the peak performance age. However, it is natural that they continue to rely on their best players and those best players are getting older.

Virgil van Dijk, too passive against United for Jadon Sancho’s goal, is 31 years old. Salah is now 30. So far this season, only Chelsea and West Ham have named starting line-ups with a higher average age than Liverpool. For its part, Arsenal, head of the table, has the youngest.

It’s too early to draw broad conclusions from that, but what is certain is that when Newcastle visit Anfield next week they will be looking to be aggressive. “Career stats are tied to success in the modern game,” says his head coach, Eddie Howe.

“That’s how the game goes.”

The curiosity is that Klopp’s Liverpool, once at the forefront of that thinking, seem to be moving in the opposite direction.

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