Gary Neville thinks Jurgen Klopp made a ‘strange’ decision with the Liverpool XI that finished the defeat to Arsenal. It certainly wasn’t the Reds’ most dangerous side.
Liverpool went down 3-2 at the Emirates on Sunday. It was a poor performance, in truth, that kicked off with a disaster as Arsenal went 1-0 up inside a minute. They ended the first half with an equally bad defensive display to go in 2-1 down.
Darwin Nunez found a goal in between the Arsenal strikes, while Roberto Firmino scored an equaliser early in the second half. However, a controversial penalty left Liverpool chasing the game at 3-2 down.
And this is where Gary Neville’s confusion comes in. With Liverpool chasing the game, Jurgen Klopp took Diogo Jota off the pitch. This was at a time when both Luis Diaz and Mohamed Salah had also gone off, albeit before Arsenal’s third.
“Salah coming off and Jota coming off, and then needing a goal with Harvey Elliott left-wing and Jordan Henderson right-wing just felt a little bit strange,” Neville told his podcast.
“Look, they have enough credit in the bank – this Liverpool team and manager – for us not to go wild and start to say it’s the end but there are concerns and worrying signs.”
The Liverpool XI that finished Arsenal defeat
It wasn’t ideal and we see where Neville is coming from. At the same time, the only real issue we have is with taking Jota off. That shouldn’t have happened.
But Diaz’s problem was an injury and Salah simply didn’t play well. The Egyptian went off at 2-2, with Klopp explaining that he wanted to tighten the defence. Given Liverpool’s record right now, that’s fair enough.
Liverpool did still have both Nunez and Firmino on the pitch by then but the lack of pace in the side was telling. In fact, Nunez was essentially the only one offering any. That was always going to make a goal hard to come by.
Perhaps they could overcome that lack of pace if Liverpool were seasoned in this 4-4-2 but they’re not – it led to a lack of ideas as they chased a goal. That, if Klopp persists with the system – is perhaps the biggest problem they need to overcome.