Jurgen Klopp is adamant Liverpool’s recent woes in attack are simply down to poor decision-making in the final third rather than teams getting wise to their style of play.
The Reds head into Thursday’s Premier League clash with Burnley having failed to score in any of their previous three top-flight games.
They beat Crystal Palace 7-0 just over a month ago but have since won just three points in the league, scoring once and seeing Manchester United rise to the summit. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men can return to the top with a win over Fulham on Wednesday.
Much of the focus on Liverpool’s attacking issues has somewhat unsurprisingly been centred on Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, all of whom were disappointing in the 0-0 draw with United.
But Klopp seemed irritated when it was suggested a factor could be that other teams have learnt how to play against them.
“You can make of it what you want, it’s football, it’s not a new game, we didn’t invent it new and then surprise the teams last year and they were like, ‘oh my god, so that’s how they attack’,” Klopp said in his news conference.
“No team is to defend for a whole game, well, maybe a whole game but not then the next one. Other teams know what we’re doing, last year they knew what we were doing, but we were still difficult to defend.
“Most of the good chances – we didn’t miss them because they defended them, we missed because we didn’t use them, so that is a massive difference. There are chances where we just have to finish them off better. That’s the reason.
“Teams defend against us with all they have, that’s not new. So, at the moment we have an ‘offensive crisis’, next headline will be everyone knows how to play against us.
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“You smile as you ask the question but you know exactly what this kind of headline creates and what people are thinking, but it’s normal. It’s the situation we are in.
“I think I heard somewhere I have to rebuild this team? The world is a crazy place, not only because of the pandemic. It’s because no one has time anymore, in football we know that.
“I’ve been in football long enough to know you never get time, you only get time if you make steps forward.
“After last season we haven’t made steps forward, we know that, but we only make steps forward by playing not talking.”
Of his first-choice attacking trio, Firmino seems to be the one receiving most of the criticism – after all, the Brazilian has only scored five times in the Premier League this season.
His goals (0.26) and assists (0.15) per 90 minutes this term across all competitions are the worst he has posted at Liverpool under Klopp, while his chance creation frequency is also at a low of 1.2 every 90 minutes.
It was put to Klopp that Liverpool have been less effective with regards to pressing this term, though Klopp dismissed the importance of that.
When asked how Firmino can get back on track, Klopp said: “By training, let’s start with that, that’s how it is.
“We didn’t score a lot of goals in these games, it doesn’t mean Roberto’s performance dropped or whatever the counter press stats say – in this game it was not the case because a player wasn’t there or we didn’t do it well enough, we had a lot of great counter-pressing in this game, in other games before we press they may play a long ball, that’s how it is.
“It’s not always about your game, it’s about the other team’s approach as well, but we know we’re not exactly where we want to be, there are some reasons but that’s not important, it’s that we have to fight and we do.”