The heights of the midweek victory gave way to a humbling defeat at the weekend. Liverpool’s self-destructive impulses were on full display and Tottenham Hotspur punished nearly every one, battering the Reds 4-1 at Wembley.
It was another horror start for a team that should have been riding a wave of confidence. It took only four minutes for Dejan Lovren to make the first of multiple errors that would see Spurs nearly out of site before the half. They would double their lead within the first dozen minutes of the match courtesy of more Lovren lunacy.
Even after Lovren left the match and the Reds found a way back into the contest, Joel Matip took a generous turn gifting the home side a goal before the break. Liverpool were simply incapable of getting out of their own way against Harry Kane and company. So consummate was the calamity, in fact, Tottenham did not even need to play particularly well to generate this result.
Nevertheless, Liverpool can take little consolation from such a self-inflicted smackdown. Result like this spark some serious self-reflection by every member of the club. It is a long season but the Reds look a good way off the top of the table at present.
It may have been Maribor midweek but the beating that was delivered had Merseyside buzzing. Reasons for confidence were not entirely unfounded. Liverpool had struggled to score for weeks and looked like they had found their finish. Yet, shouts of “It’s only Maribor” proved far more pronounced when matched up against a much stronger side. The show in Slovenia now looks more like fool’s gold.
Despite finishing higher than the Reds in recent years, Tottenham Hotspur has failed to overpower Liverpool in direct competition. That run ended emphatically at Wembley, as Liverpool bungled a genuine test of their ability to challenge in a league that looks like it may all too quickly be slipping away. The Reds no longer look like they have Spurs’ number even if this was a self-induced suffering.
Liverpool’s favorable group in the Champions League has provided the Reds nothing like the tests that Spurs have faced. Those results seemed telling when these sides faced each other for the first time this campaign.
Dejan Lovren deserves plenty of the disparagement he will no doubt receive after this performance. His defending was definitively diabolical. However, he was far from the only one. The Croatian centre-half was just the worst in a terrible triumvirate.
Since arriving from the Bundesliga, Joel Matip has largely played free from the kind of criticism his counterpart has endured. That pardon has now officially passed. The Cameroonian has long benefitted from playing alongside a player supporters suitably slate. Matip is merely mediocre, flattering to deceive in what was a disastrous duo at the heart of Liverpool’s defence.
Then there is Simon Mignolet. The goalkeeper has rarely inspired confidence even in his best runs of form. The Belgian’s blunders on crosses are far more common than his capacity for clean sheets. Against Spurs, his flapping found Liverpool further punished by Kane, who devastated the Reds with a brace and an assist.
With Liverpool’s recent run of form, Jurgen Klopp has endured more criticism than at any point in his tenure. As the side sputtered, his decision-making has been scrutinized with greater suspicion. From transfer policy to starting lineups to substitution selections, the German gaffer has been forced to scramble for solutions as the Reds struggled for form.
Disappointment during the transfer window was compounded by the number and type of goals conceded. The mishandling of Southampton and Virgil van Dijk has already proven more costly than the whatever price the Dutch defender may command. Despite Klopp hitting on the vast majority of transfers he has made, it is the failed deals that are haunting him at the minute.
Still, it is Klopp’s faith in a few players he has in the squad that has caused the greatest consternation. The defence was dodgy when he arrived on Merseyside. Any improvements he has made have lacked lustre to date, making the van Dijk debacle all the more devastating. The spine of this side has done precious little to command the kind of conviction the manager has championed.