For a huge part of this season, Liverpool looked invincible. The team broke a number of records for wins and points, not only for the Premier League but for all top leagues across Europe.
The Reds were after Arsenal’s record for most consecutive games without defeat in the domestic competition and they genuinely looked unstoppable.
And yet, Liverpool was brought down to Earth recently. The team lost against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, got crushed Watford in the Premier League, and was knocked out by Chelsea in the FA Cup.
These three games beg the question of what happened and if Liverpool truly has something to worry about. To try and answer that, I explore all three defeats here and the reasons behind each of them.
What Happened Against Atletico Madrid?
Atletico Madrid was the first team in a long time to beat Liverpool. Diego Simeone’s men are notoriously tough and they showed that clearly in the first leg of the Champions League knockouts. They denied the Reds any space, made the game physical and scored one of their few chances.
I would say that I see nothing shameful in this defeat and there’s no reason to worry too much. Everyone can lose against this side away from home and Simeone is the master of defensive play.
Liverpool had some chances and there’s a return leg, so you can’t say it was the end of the world. I’m sure that Klopp wanted to avoid defeat here, but it’s not unusual or a serious cause to worry.
What Happened Against Watford?
While the defeat against Atletico Madrid wasn’t s complete shocker, no one saw the 3-0 loss at Vicarage Road coming. Watford completely outplayed the opposition and the clinical strikers of the Hornets punished every mistake in the second half.
This is probably the most worrying results of the three, but I wouldn’t draw too many conclusions from it. Liverpool had a number of similar games in the Premier League so far.
The Reds had the habit to play far from their best but rely on their solid defense and the brilliance of their attacking players to win. We saw that against Crystal Palace, against Southampton, and even against West Ham less than a week before the Watford disaster.
The truth is that Liverpool won at least five or six games so far thanks to luck and the individual quality of some of its players. That’s normal for all strong sides, but sometimes it simply doesn’t work. Against Watford, it failed in a spectacular fashion.
You could point at the absence of Henderson and Gomez, talk about some missed opportunities in the first half or highlight the individual errors at the back. The truth is that you can’t always win without being the better team on the pitch.
You will inevitably lose one of those games and that’s what happened against Watford.
What Happened Against Chelsea?
I won’t spend too much time explaining this one, as it seems fairly obvious to me. For a start, Jurgen Klopp didn’t send his best eleven on the pitch. It was a mixed lineup with a lot of youth and it had to face a strong Chelsea team at Stamford Bridge.
That alone offers enough of an explanation of why Liverpool lost. However, I would add the bad luck of the side that had plenty of chances to score in crucial moments of the game. The triple save by Kepa in the first half immediately springs to mind.
It was a close game and the more experienced Chelsea lineup was more clinical which was enough to edge Liverpool. Nothing more, nothing less.
I don’t see serious issues in any of the games that Liverpool recently lost. Even the best teams in the world sometimes lose and that’s part of the sport. The only potential problem is the timing of the defeats.
If they were spread across the season, no one would’ve batted an eye. However, they happened in a short period of time and that might hurt the side’s confidence. Liverpool needs a win against Bournemouth on Saturday or the side could easily end up in crisis in the worst possible moment.
Sure, the Premier League title looks certain, but Klopp and the players will be eager to defend their Champions League as well and this could be a problem if they don’t overcome the slump immediately.