If our narrow win over Swansea City earlier in the season wasn’t a testament to what a tough football team the Jacks are, then them coming to Anfield and snatching three-points to push themselves out of the relegation zone should be proof enough.
Or, maybe, it’s another case of things going horribly wrong on Merseyside. Billed as the deadliest attack against the worst defence, by the final whistle it was nearly impossible to tell which role Liverpool was supposed to be cast in — twice coming from behind to draw level, but giving up a goal with every shot the visitors managed on target.
Without a win in the league since the turn of the year, the easy money was on the Reds rediscovering their form to ease past Paul Clement’s side in empathic fashion, but the visitors proved a tough nut to crack from the get-go, staying tight and keeping numbers behind the ball as they suffocated the life out of the first half. All signs pointed to it being much of the same following the break until Fernando Llorente bagged a brace in four minutes to turn this one on it’s head.
In a return to the comical defending of yesteryear, both were completely avoidable — reacting too slow to make an absolute hash of a corner for the first and three defenders failing to handle the Spaniard on the counter-attack as he rose highest to nod in an admittedly tasty cross from Tom Carroll. If only to add some spice, Roberto Firmino proved that anything Llorente can do, he can do better by thumping in a header of his own and smacking one on the half-volley past Swans ‘keeper Lukasz Fabianski to restore parity; however, that particular party would be short lived.
As disappointing as picking up only a point against the Jacks might have been, that would have been far better than what actually happened; again, with the Reds apply heaps of pressure as they probed for a winner, Carroll played creator on the counter yet again. Running at the Liverpool defense, the 24-year old skipped past Dejan Lovren with ease and just when you thought Ragnar Klavan had saved his partner with a last ditch tackle, the Estonian was only able to divert the ball across the box to the lurking Gylfi Sigurdsson. No chance for Simon Mignolet and that’s the match folks.
“I don’t look for where is lucky and unlucky; it was obvious we had not that much luck today, maybe they had a little bit more, especially in defending,” mused Klopp, sounding as displeased as possible. “[There were] two or three situations where it was already done nearly and we could have scored again. We showed again that when we are really on track then we are a strong side and can create chances and score goals,” added the Reds boss, before returning to a familiar theme. “But the defending around all three goals was not good enough, 100 per cent. That’s a very important part of the game. It’s very disappointing today.”
Without resorting to hyperbole, disappointment is a feeling that’s becoming all too common. Maybe with Philippe Coutinho back in the side and Joel Matip finally cleared by FIFA to play during the Africa Cup of Nations, things will be back to normal soon enough, but with the second leg the League Cup semi-final on Wednesday and a do or die meeting with Chelsea only a few days later, “soon enough” may not be.. you know…soon enough.