Five reasons why Liverpool have faltered in their quadruple chase

Liverpool’s push for a quadruple came to a disappointing end after a series of mediocre displays in recent weeks.

The Reds have now lost significant ground in the title race, and they crashed out of the FA Cup and the Europa League. At the start of the month, Liverpool were in the top spot in the Premier League standings, and they were in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and the UEFA Europa League.

With favourable fixtures in both competitions ahead of themselves, it seemed like Liverpool would continue their push for an unprecedented quadruple. While the players and Jurgen Klopp will be thoroughly disappointed with the way their season has come crashing down, here at The Hard Tackle, we analyse the five main reasons why they have faltered in their chase for glory.

Klopp’s untimely announcement

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp announced in January that he will leave the club at the end of the season. Naturally, there was extreme pressure on the players to finish the season strongly and give the German the send-off he deserves. He is undoubtedly one of the best managers in Premier League history and one of the greatest figures in the history of Liverpool Football Club.

The German manager’s exit from Liverpool comes across as untimely, and the announcement was certainly shocking. At a stage of the season when Liverpool were chasing all four trophies, Klopp’s revelation clearly left the fanbase and the dressing room unsettled.

New signings like Darwin Nunez and Dominik Szoboszlai were left baffled with the decision from the manager, especially after they decided to join the club so that they could work with him. On the other hand, experienced players like Mohamed Salah were hoping that the German manager would sign a new contract with the club.

Klopp’s decision to leave the club and his untimely announcement certainly put the players under a lot of pressure and uncertainty. Although they are professionals who are expected to get the job done regardless of the circumstances, the shock value of the decision certainly had an impact on the team.

Poor return from attackers since the turn of the year

Liverpool have always excelled in their attacking play under Klopp over the years. They have managed to carve out opportunities and score goals consistently. However, one of their biggest strengths has turned into a great weakness since the turn of the year.

Liverpool attackers have found it difficult to find the back of the net since January and that has cost them dearly. For example, Darwin Nunez has found the back of the net just ten times in all competitions. Ten goals in 24 outings for a team chasing the quadruple is simply not good enough.

In that same period, Mohamed Salah has chipped in which just nine goals in all competitions. Luis Diaz and Cody Gakpo are not reliable goalscorers either and Diogo Jota’s availability issues hurt the team.

Liverpool have missed a reliable goalscorer since the turn of the year and despite creating several clear-cut chances in most of the matches, they have not been able to grind out vital points.

Officiating blunders

While there is no doubt that Liverpool are mostly responsible for their downfall this season and have created most of their own problems, the poor standard of officiating has not helped either. Liverpool will feel hard done by some of the decisions in crucial games this season. Most teams have had poor decisions against them at some point in the season. But Liverpool have had to deal with far too many incompetent calls from the officials.

The challenge from Jeremy Doku on Alexis Mac Allister which should have been a last minute penalty for Liverpool, the Martin Odegaard handball against Liverpool, the wrongly disallowed goal from Luis Diaz away to Tottenham and the recent fiasco involving Gakpo at West Ham United have cost Liverpool valuable points throughout the season. Liverpool have had multiple apologies from PGMOL this season. Unfortunately, the points that were lost were never recovered.

Injury problems

Winning a quadruple not only requires a high level of performance throughout the season, sustained push across all competitions demands a deeper squad with high availability as well. Liverpool have a decent squad size but they have had unprecedented injury crisis this season and most of their key players were burnt out by January. The drop in performance levels was inevitable.

For example, Salah has missed ten matches for Liverpool in all competitions, Szoboszlai has missed 12 matches, Trent Alexander-Arnold has missed 22 matches, Alisson Becker has missed 17 matches, Jota has missed 19 matches, Joel Matip has missed 37 matches in all competitions and Thiago Alcantara has played just once all season. Any team missing players of this calibre for an extended period is bound to struggle.

Poor defensive organisation

Liverpool used to boast one of the meanest defences in the Premier League not so long ago. However, that has not been the case this season. They have been dismantled at the back quite often this term, even against inferior opposition.

The Reds have conceded 41 goals in 35 league matches so far, and poor defending cost them their place in the UEFA Europa League and the FA Cup semi-finals as well. Atalanta and Manchester United managed to carve them apart time and again in the cup competitions, and Liverpool have had to toil hard to grind out points in the league after going down early on in most matches.

The ability to score goals can win matches for any team. But it is the defence that helps a team win titles, and Liverpool have come across as a poorly coached defensive set up this season. The blame has to go to the manager as well as the players for the way they have defended this season.

With just three league games remaining in the Jurgen Klopp era, Liverpool fans will hope that one of the greatest managers in their club’s history can end his tenure strongly. It remains to be seen whether Liverpool can grind out a win in their remaining fixtures now.

Note: Stats via WhoScored & Transfermarkt

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