Liverpool took all three points against Arsenal, Chelsea, and Leicester City. They looked solid against Tottenham. And they lost the one league game, against relegation favourites Burnley, just about everyone considered their easiest. Which means there’s more than a little uncertainty as they prepare to face Hull City.
In recent seasons, Liverpool have developed something of a reputation as a team that shows up for the big games but can at times seem to take things for granted and slip up against opponents that on paper they should beat. The answer, says Jürgen Klopp, is for them to be angry heading into their next league game.
“Yes we need to be angry,” said Klopp when he was asked about how Liverpool would approach their game against Hull City on Saturday afternoon. “They want our points. That makes me angry actually. We are able to create chances against any team. Maybe we didn’t score so we have to think about why.”
However, while Klopp sees anger as part of the solution, he doesn’t think it’s necessarily that Liverpool have been doing the wrong things against opponents like Burnley. At least not to start. The bigger problem has been one of expectations and that those expectations can lead to negative reactions at the first sign of adversity.
“We have to find solutions,” he said. “I think we all can improve—the whole team, the players, the coaches, and the crowd. Because it’s about expectations. If you create a chance against Chelsea, it’s positive. If you miss it, it’s still positive. If you create a chance against Burnley and you miss it, it’s negative for everybody.
“That’s what we have to learn from. We have to take the games as they are. We don’t have to rate opponents before and say against this should be easy—football is never easy. So I can do a lot to bring us in the right mood, but I would love to see everybody with the right mood and not upset if we miss a chance.”
Step one, then, is arrive angry. Step two is to not begin to feel defeated if the first chance doesn’t lead to a goal and the second chance to a second. Which all sounds quite entirely sensible, and also a fair diagnosis of just why Liverpool may at times be struggling against the sides that on paper they should be beating.
Now the question is whether everyone—the players and the manager and also the fans—can take Klopp’s diagnosis and do something productive with it. Starting with keeping all of their points against Hull City.