Home » ARTICLES » Stats show key area of concern for Liverpool after Atalanta clash – Opinion

Stats show key area of concern for Liverpool after Atalanta clash – Opinion

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By Siddharth Juyal

Stats against Atalanta revealed the tactical problems that Liverpool have created for themselves, annoying the fanbase in the last few games

Liverpool have drastically regressed in performance during the last few games which is evident in the individual stats against Atalanta. The Reds beat Atalanta 0-1 in the second-leg away tie but faced elimination from the Europa League competition.

Atalanta defeated Liverpool 0-3 at Anfield in the first leg as Jurgen Klopp’s men failed to muster a comeback. The Reds started the game positively as the returning Trent Alexander-Arnold showcased his threatening playmaking ability to cause trouble.

Trent earned a penalty that Mohamed Salah dispatched in the seventh minute to give a glimpse of hope. However, that hope gradually dissipated as the game carried on and the team started to show similar problems.

LEEDS, ENGLAND - APRIL 17: Ibrahima Konate of Liverpool looks on during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Liverpool FC at Elland Road on April 17, 2023 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Liverpool defender Ibrahima Konate took 106 touches against Atalanta in the second leg of the Europa League quarter-finals. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Cody Gakpo dinked a lovely ball for Salah to score in the 39th minute but the Egyptian ruined his chance. Salah has missed numerous opportunities in front of goal since the club football returned to action after the March international break.

Liverpool’s conviction and passion disappeared during the second half as the team started running out of options for creativity. The Reds enjoyed 70% of the possession but they managed only two shots on target during the second half. Overall, they had 10 shots out of which five hit the target as their struggle in front of goal continued.

Liverpool's German head coach Jurgen Kloppduring  (L) acknowledges Liverpool's Egyptian forward #11 Mohamed Salah as he leaves the pitch during the UEFA Europa League quarter-final second leg football match between Atalanta BC and Liverpool FC at the Atleti Azzurri d'Italia Stadium in Bergamo, on April 18, 2024. (Photo by Isabella BONOTTO / AFP) (Photo by ISABELLA BONOTTO/AFP via Getty Images)
Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah has squandered numerous opportunities in last few games while struggling to make an impact in the overall buildup. (Photo by ISABELLA BONOTTO/AFP via Getty Images)

Liverpool have not scored a single goal from an open play in the last 337 minutes in all competitions. Their struggle is a cumulation of complacency and deviation from their usual tactical approach at a very crucial stage.

Slow transition from the defence and struggling individuals in the build-up

The worst part of their performance is the amount of ball-dwelling that goalkeeper Alisson Becker and Ibrahima Konate did. Sofascore stats revealed that Konate made the most touches in the game (106) followed by Alisson (105).

However, the poor support system and off-the-ball movement from the frontline played a big role. The situation annoyed the Liverpool fans who pointed out the obvious lack of creativity and effort from the players.

Klopp installed a “never say die” attitude into the club but the players failed him during his last European game. The beloved manager said farewell to European football as a Liverpool manager with a performance that is nothing like what Liverpool we known for, under him.

Liverpool star Curtis Jones gives positive injury update ahead of the crucial second-leg with Fulham in the Carabao Cup.
Liverpool star Curtis Jones has struggled to influence the game from the midfield position since returning from injury. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

It is not a kneejerk reaction to wonder the future of many of these players when Klopp leaves the club. Salah has been our best player in attack for most of Klopp’s reign but he has regressed immensely.

The Egypt captain attempted to drop deep and influence the play but that only led to more problems. The 31-year-old has regressed in pace and without his productivity, he has offered nothing to the team.

Liverpool have a crucial decision to make as Salah’s goal and assists are still remarkable and important. Nevertheless, there is an argument that there are players who can take over the responsibility and add more overall influence. For a player who is earning the most at the club, his failure in recent games is hard to ignore.

Talking about the midfield, the lack of faith from Alisson to pass the ball in the middle is evident enough. Apart from Alexis Mac Allister, Liverpool lacks a specialist player capable of manoeuvring in congested spaces and dictating the tempo.

While Curtis Jones is a good player and very handy in keeping possession, his speciality is still questionable. The 23-year-old failed to influence the game or dictate the tempo as a midfield partner to Mac Allister.

Jones is a jack of all trades but the master of none while his desire to play regularly is well-known. The Englishman is a divisive figure as he has as many believers as he has the naysayers in the fanbase. However, such tactical games expose the fact that Liverpool needs more specialists than the jack of all trades.

Atalanta exploited the slow transition from the Liverpool defence and pressed them in the middle phases to find counter-attacking moments. While their tactics are commendable, Liverpool players only helped them by showing their weaknesses openly and repeating the same mistakes.

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Liverpool’s struggle with the low block, and inability to move the play through the middle while giving the possession away in the middle phases have haunted them. In the past few games, their failure to score goals came after they conceded an early goal which allowed the opposition to stay compact.

With six games remaining, Liverpool fans would hope that they could see something very different from the players. However, one thing is becoming a certainty many players currently in the squad cannot fulfil the criteria for any other manager.