Why do Liverpool slip up when you least expect it?
This season Liverpool has put together strings of impressive results, some breath taking performances make them look like genuine title contenders, only to slip up against supposed ‘lesser opponents’.
West Brom away was the most recent in the last round of mid-week fixtures, prior to that the near disaster which was Aston Villa at Anfield. Liverpool had gone into that game at Anfield on the back of three wins and were seen by many as bankers only to struggle.
The scintillating destruction of Everton in the Merseyside derby and the humiliation of Arsenal this weekend were separated by the dismal 1-1 against West Brom and simply cannot be explained away by the Kolo Toure error, shocking and all as it was.
The finger, usually pointed at Brendan Rodgers, accuses him, correctly on occasion, of being an overzealous tactician tinkering to find his best formation. However a small squad and long injury list, has forced the manager’s hand somewhat with the last three games seeing the same starting eleven.
While injuries have been significant at times for the Reds this has only acted to galvanise them into digging deeper at times and is not a significant factor. Complacency can equally be discounted following analysis of their FA cup games or the clinical dispatch of teams lower down the league.
Could nerves be a feature of this young team? Anyone watching at close quarters will know at times if not out of sight Liverpool tend to get the jitters. Often having the fire power to get away with it, Stoke 3-5 or Villa 2-2, at other times they can self-destruct.
This is particularly evident amongst younger players like Coutinho and to a lesser extent Sterling, both of whom tend to have off days when the stakes and subsequent media circus is perceived as high.
With Fulham up next the Reds can close the gap at the top to five or even four, depending on Manchester United getting something at the Emirates. Can they hold their nerve?
Fulham’s PR blunder on Monday following their heroic draw at old Trafford saw talk of postponing the game due to the now cancelled tube strike, smacked of a club looking to rest players or buy time.
Maybe the reds are not the only ones with jitters, Liverpool are taken to banish their away day blues.
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