Liverpool vs. AFC Bournemouth: An easy game made hard by Jurgen Klopp’s tactics…
Liverpool have serious issues, and in their return to Anfield, it was quite evident it wasn’t Bournemouth, neither was it the lack of a defensive midfield.
The Reds ever since the summer transfer window, have been plagued by the narratives that they need a defensive midfielder to get their season up and running, but if anything that should be learnt from the second weekend of the premier league season, it is that Liverpool have a tactical problem that Jurgen Klopp hasn’t realized.
The 3 PM fixture started with the Cherries pulling off a surprise against the Merseyside Reds with a direct attack at the Liverpool back, taking fluid opportunities against their highline system. In under seconds of kick off, Bournemouth opened the scoring just for it to be correctly judged for offside.
The offside call would be assumed to be a let off for the Reds, only that the team’s defense learnt nothing 2 minutes after to let Bournemouth clear on goal with winger, Antoine Semenyo seeing an opportunity to shoot through Liverpool captain, Virgil van Dijk.
From there, it began a high pressing game that saw Bournemouth earn ample opportunities to put themselves further ahead at Anfield in front of the home team’s fans.
A disjointed chaos, the Reds were within the opening half of the game, with the Cherries railroading the Liverpool highline and defense with confident play.
The 6 time Champions of Europe looked on course for a difficult afternoon against Bournemouth till Luis Diaz came up to the rescue in the 27th minute with the equalizer via a show of skill that produced a bicycle kick past the Bournemouth goalie.
Mohamed Salah put the Reds up ahead in the 36th minute after his penalty rebounded off Neto’s fingers to gift the no. 11 a chance on goal.
From going a goal down, Liverpool raced into the lead with even more goals promised. But this is where Jurgen Klopp’s sides problems become evident.
The Reds just like the weekend prior against Chelsea, had chances upon chances to go further ahead, with either Mohamed Salah fluffing off chances or getting dispossessed of the ball. Their set piece which some seasons back was their strength, saw ample opportunities of a free header, fluffed by Virgil van Dijk, Diogo Jota and Konate.
One man who had quite a poor game in the affair was Diogo Jota whose goal at the death came as his sole redemption as the Reds went down by a man following new signing, Alexis Mac Alister picking up a red card for a challenge on Bournemouth’s Ryan Christie.
Alexis Mac Alister’s red card seemed to have being the wake up call the Reds wanted, or perhaps the tactical change Jurgen Klopp needed as the high line tactics was quickly dropped with Liverpool becoming more compact in attack and defense.
Though it could be argued that the introduction of new signing, Wataru Endo as a defensive midfielder played a part in the eventual 3-1 win, but the through balls straight into the Liverpool defense were no longer visible for Bournemouth the minute the Reds ditched its highline.
This brings the question, while also setting a precedent, ‘Is the lack of a defensive midfielder the problem of Liverpool, or rather Jurgen Klopp’s tactics?’