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Reds Column III

The Challenges that await Liverpool Fc 2020-21 Season

In their first match as defending Premier League Champions, Liverpool Fc narrowly scrapped past Leeds United on Last Saturday evening.

The game itself was a spectacle and entertaining for the neutrals.

What’s very encouraging to see was Leeds United Fc (The Whites) themselves putting on a brave performance and did not look like a team that got promoted (especially after 16 years).

Marcelo Bielsa himself is a person who is obsessed about his team playing the perfect counter attacking football but even he will feel proud of his team after putting the Reds to the sword at their own ground.

The Whites are a team that are well and truly at home playing in the Premier League.

Despite the win, some of the issues particularly the old defensive frailties for Liverpool Fc (The Reds) were laid bare. The very impenetrable defence that helped the Reds win the Premier League Title emphatically Last Season (especially by grinding out narrow wins without conceding) is now beginning to look vulnerable.

Particularly in the last few matches, the Reds have been conceding goals through quick counter attacks and the defence looks shaky with classic schoolboy defending errors (such as sloppy defending, poor man marking, poor communication) not helping their cause either.

Jürgen Klopp will need to quickly address these defensive issues that plagued them during the German’s first few years as Reds manager.

One of Klopp’s many admirable traits is always looking to solve the problems internally and resort to the Transfer Market only when there is no other options.

The German tactician firmly believes in addressing the issues through proper training and work on their defensive vulnerabilities.

Besides the addressing the defensive issues, there are other challenges that awaits the Reds.

  • The Reds have entered into an unfamiliar territory of having to defend the English title on the back of accumulating over 190+ points over the past 2 seasons. Manchester City F.c are the only side to win back-to-back titles (2017-18 & 2018-19) over the last decade and the only side to accumulate 90+ points during those back-to-back title winning season. That itself shows the enormity of the task at hand.

Klopp himself is a brilliant motivator and he can help his Reds side steer clear from these unnecessary mental pressures. All the Reds can do is focus on improving the performances every game and the results will take care of itself.

 

  • Manchester City Fc (The Citizens) themselves will be out to seek revenge on the Reds for missing on the chance to win the Hattrick of Premier League Titles. Since their transfer ban was overturned by Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS), the Citizens though had been relatively quiet (for their standards) in the transfer market with notable purchases of Nathan Aké and Ferran Torres.

The Citizens looks more balanced as a side than the Reds. So, the Reds would need a positive result against the Citizens (away and home) in their bid to clinch back-to-back Premier League Titles.

 

  • Without showing any apparent financial strains on club’s revenues due to the effects of Corona Virus Pandemic (and much to Klopp’s bemusement), Chelsea Fc particularly had spent over £200+ Million on buying new players such as Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and so on. With the new recruits on board, Chelsea Fc (The Blues) will be a force to reckon under Frank Lampard. The Reds were given a mighty scare by the Blues at Anfield in the last season.

So, the Reds will need to be wary of the Chelsea Fc (particularly their razor sharp counter attacking) as the Blues are due to host the Reds (on 20 September 2020 (Sunday) at 4:30 p.m (BST)).

 

  • What’s more better to make a statement of intent than beat the very the best. Regardless if it’s Champions League or the Premier League, literally every clubs will want to want to beat the Reds. Needless to say, Klopp surely will have his work cut out!

The recent Leeds United match against the Reds was a fine example of how other clubs would look to approach the Reds by playing fearless football. As such, Klopp would need to be more unpredictable by switching his preferred 4-3-3 formation to 4-2-3-1 formation, just to keep the opposition team guessing!

 

  • Since Coutinho’s (in January 2018), the Reds has midfielders mostly in the mould of “workhorse”. Teams like Arsenal F.c (under Mikel Arteta) have already employed similar successful defensive tactics (like Atlético Madrid under Diego Simeone) against teams that utilises possession based attacking tactics. The Defensive Tactics is based on just defending deep, be content to concede possession and score goals through swift counter attacks.

This is where a proven skilful creative attacking midfielder can prove to be the difference between winning and losing. As such, the Reds would be very wise to quickly snap up a player like Thiago Alcântara before the transfer window 2020 closes (on 05 October 2020), rather than wait until next year to get him on a Free Transfer. A creative attacking midfielder like Thiago will look to move the ball forward and provide razor sharp passes into the final third against deep lying defending teams.

Also, having a proven World Class Player of Thiago’s calibre can provide several tactical flexibilities for Klopp. Ironically, the Reds are due to play Arsenal F.c (the Gunners) at home on 28 September 2020 (at 8:15 p.m (BST)). The Reds did not fare well in their last 2 matches against the rejuvenated Gunners side (under Arteta).

 

Verdict: Klopp will need to get back on the ground and work on the basics with the Reds defence. Even the front 3 cannot afford to have too many quiet days. So, Klopp will need to keep his players focussed and fiercely determined to grind out wins as they did like last season.

But first, the Reds will need to quickly rediscover their Last Season’s defensive swagger of shackling the opposition.

 

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