It’s peak Liverpool, isn’t it? Fresh off kicking around one of the best teams in the league in Tottenham Hotspur in their last outing, they turn around a get spanked by a manager-less, relegation threatened Leicester City to not only make their chances of securing Champions League football for next season that much more remote, but give us ample opportunity to rehash all those concerns raised over the last month or so about the wheels well and truly coming off.
Foxes striker Jamie Vardy scored on either side of the half, sandwiching a superb effort from Danny Drinkwater as the defending champions scored their first Premier League goals since the turn of the year to climb out of the relegation zone. Reds attacker Philippe Coutinho pulled one back as time ticked down after some good work from Emre Can, but by that point it was already too little too late for the visitors as Jurgen Klopp’s side missed out on a massive chance to reclaim a spot in the top four.
And, of course, establish something resembling consistency. It’s been a problem since the start of the campaign; taking a quick glance at the bottom end of the table reveals a of who’s who of teams that the Reds have inexplicably failed to beat this season and you can now add Leicester — under the watchful eye of caretaker boss Craig Shakespeare after sacking Claudio Ranieri last week — to the Rogues Gallery.
“It was not good enough in the beginning, not good enough in the middle and not good enough in the end. It was 100 per cent clear what happened here tonight from the Leicester side, back to their roots, the line-up was clear,” mused Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp in his post match presser. “For us, it is very important to say we cannot blame anybody else for this performance – it’s only our responsibility. That doesn’t make it better, but we don’t want to look for excuses,” said the German, expanding on his obvious disappointment. “Everybody who has followed us over the whole year knows how good we can be, so that makes it even worse to accept a performance like this tonight.”
At this point, do we even have wheels to talk about falling off? If they are, in fact, there, what are they even coming off of? Really, we should be having the “it’s just one of those days / football’s a funny old game” conversations right about now, but you can’t even entertain the notion of when you’re being served up exactly what you’ve come to expect. Questions have to be asked and those, unfortunately, have to start at the top; two midfielders in the back four? Players on the bench that can’t even drive? Pressing on with an attacking approach that’s clearly gone stale? And what’s with all the damn crosses?
I’m too jet-lagged to expand on any of those topics, but I will say this: they’re nothing new and they all should have been answered by now. Really, that’s all there is to it.