Why the international break has come at the right time for Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp
International breaks are usually a bane for football clubs and fans alike. In addition to the lack of club football action for several days, these breaks can usually disrupt the momentum of a team. This was clearly the case for Liverpool going into the previous international break.
The Reds went into the previous international break after securing their place in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League with a 6-3 aggregate win over Hoffenheim followed by an emphatic 4-0 win over Arsenal in the Premier League.
Such was the performance of the team and fans couldn’t get enough of it. They were in rampant form even though they were without their talisman, Philippe Coutinho. However, going into the current international break, the form and mood around Liverpool couldn’t be more contrasting.
Between the two international breaks, the Reds played seven games winning one, losing two and drawing four!
The first match after the previous international break was a big game against Manchester City which they lost 5-0 following a red card to Sadio Mane. This was soon followed up with a League Cup exit at the hands of Leicester City, two draws in as many Champions League games and two equally frustrating draws against Burnley and Newcastle United in the Premier League.
In those seven games, the Merseyside club failed to keep a single clean sheet and conceded 14 goals! The results have now left the Reds in seventh position in the league after seven games and also seven points behind both Manchester clubs at the helm.
To sum it up, contrary to the previous international break, the current break has come as a boon to Liverpool.
Problems aplenty for Jurgen Klopp
Going into the previous international break, it looked like Liverpool would do fine without Philippe Coutinho if they could keep up their form. However, going into the current break, the little Brazilian is the only positive aspect as his three goals and one assist have helped Liverpool salvage some points in recent games.
The two-week gap is perfect for Jurgen Klopp to sort out the mess his side are in now. There is obviously the never-ending question of the defence that has shipped 20 goals already in 12 games across all competitions. In stark contrast, Liverpool’s next opponents, Manchester United have conceded just 4 goals in their 10 games so far. That clearly reflects the position of both teams in the table.
It is clear as daylight that the Reds manager made a grave mistake by not signing a centre-back in the summer and now questions also have to be raised about trusting Jordan Henderson in a holding midfield role.
In order to accommodate Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Philippe Coutinho in the same side, Klopp has further depleted Liverpool’s defensive strength.
However, despite opting to play his fabulous front four together in the previous two games against Spartak Moscow and Newcastle United, the Reds managed to score just once in each game.
There is no shortage of chances created, it is the finishing that has let Klopp down massively. If it weren’t for the horrendous finishing, Liverpool could have easily won four more games in September and that isn’t overstating things.
The Liverpool players currently on international duty will do well to enjoy a change of scenery and many of the players represent teams that are en route to qualifying for the FIFA World Cup 2018. This could do wonders to the morale of players.
The stage is set for a perfect response
The fixture list couldn’t have thrown a better game after the international break as Liverpool will host their archrivals Manchester United in the next game. If the international break is a blessing for Liverpool, it could be the exact opposite for Manchester United as it could kill their momentum.
Jurgen Klopp’s first Premier League win as Liverpool manager was against Jose Mourinho and the charismatic German will be looking for another victory over Mourinho after their two meetings last season ended in a stalemate.
A victory over Manchester United will do Liverpool the world of good. Firstly, they are the only top 6 side Klopp is yet to beat in the Premier League, secondly a win over one of the most inform teams in Europe in your own backyard is a game changer and lastly this is Liverpool vs Manchester United - one of the biggest matches in football.
Beating Manchester United won’t be easy under any circumstance as they are in fearsome form and it is a Jose Mourinho side after all.
Liverpool have a well-documented problem dealing with long balls and set pieces and Manchester United have plenty of tall figures in their side. It will be incredibly difficult for Liverpool to deal with the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Marouane Fellaini when Man Utd play long balls.
On top of that, the pace of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial could be deadly as Liverpool commit a lot of bodies when they attack.
That being said, the Manchester United game is the perfect platform to instil confidence back into the squad and put Liverpool’s season back on track. It will be a herculean task for Jurgen Klopp and co, but with more time on his hands to prepare the team, Klopp will definitely go all out to win the game.