It’s been a hellish start to the year for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, having yet to win a league game in 2017 whilst they have also been dumped out of both the EFL Cup and the FA Cup.
Without European football to distract them, that leaves the Reds with just 14 more games this season to turn things around and secure Champions League football for next term ahead of the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United and Everton.
With the excuse of a hectic schedule now behind them, one would presume this significant slump in form should be about to change.
Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher has his own theory as to why this period of negativity did, however, occur.
Speaking to Sky Sports, the ex-Reds defender claims it is the Merseysiders’ lack of activity in the January transfer window which may have had a less than desirable impact on the team.
“A major disappointment, whether it was down to the manager or the board, was not getting any reinforcements in in January. The players are there. I am not saying panic buy.
“At this moment, there are lots of problems, defensively and in attack, but I am talking about in terms of numbers, Liverpool needed something.”
The 39-year-old goes on to explain that Liverpool simply don’t have the necessary back-up coming off the bench that their top half rivals do.
“If you look at Liverpool’s bench, they haven’t got anything like what Manchester United have got, City have got – these are the teams they are trying to compete with.
“The fact that they haven’t reinforced from a position of strength – where they were in the league as the best challengers for Chelsea – has meant they have fallen away.
“Certain players have been superb all season. You can’t expect the likes of Adam Lallana, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho to keep up their levels, they need to come out of the team, not dropped, but just taken out for a couple of weeks to freshen them up, but there isn’t the players on the bench to do that.
“Other sides have got that quality in reserve that Liverpool haven’t.”
With everything going so well up until the end of 2016 perhaps a degree of naivety set it at the Anfield club, as it is abundantly clear now that the Reds don’t have nearly as much strength to call from the sidelines as their top four-chasing competitors.
With that being said, any fatigue from England’s notoriously taxing festive period should have dissipated by now and whether or not Liverpool finish in the top four will ultimately be down to how well they can perform in their next few games with the players they have at their disposal.
The Reds face Tottenham at home next in what will be another huge game in Klopp’s side’s bid to push into the top four. After that, Liverpool travel to Leicester before what could be a season-defining home clash against Arsenal.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena