With Liverpool displaying such stark contrasts in their performances against high and low level opposition — they are undefeated against the top six, with four wins and four draws, while the teams that have handed them their five losses have had an average league position at the time of the match of 17th — it's only natural that discussion turns to what in tarnation is going on.
Some fans blame the quality of the players, which seems unlikely to be the lone culprit, given how well those players perform against elite opposition. Others see issues with the manager's tactics, which seem tailor-made to dismantle teams that attempt to commit players forward and play a passing game, while proving increasingly ineffective and vulnerable to defensively sound teams willing to concede possession and look for the counter. A case can be made that fatigue — physical and/or mental — could be a contributing factor, particularly in conjunction with the punishing fixture list at the start of the year. Finally, it could simply be a matter of mentality and application; the players take extra responsibility when playing high-profile matches, but aren’t trying hard enough against teams they expect to beat.
Adam Lallana leans towards the latter.
"As you're in it together when you're succeeding and you're playing well, we're all in it together when things aren't going too well," said the former Southampton man on a live Facebook broadcast.
"That's the position that we're in at the minute and we just need to stand up and be counted and take responsibility. And that's starting this Saturday against Arsenal."
He continued, "It's difficult to speak about that [beating good teams and losing to worse ones] when obviously our record against the teams in the bottom half is nowhere near as good probably."
"I think that shows that the ability and the belief is there in the squad but we're just not performing as consistently as we should be. We need to keep working on that.
"Possibly it's a mentality issue and something that we need to learn quickly because time will eventually run out.
"I want to achieve something special here at Liverpool and to do that we can't just perform against the big teams, we need to perform against every team and treat them the same."
It's healthy that players want to take responsibility for their performances. In fact, it's the only thing they can do to improve results, as personal application is the only factor they are in full control of. In some ways, one hopes this is the issue, because if tactics and/or fatigue are to blame, continuing to simply try harder in a system that isn't set up for success will become increasingly frustrating and demoralising.
Arsenal are coming to Anfield on Saturday night, in one of those match-ups that seems to bring out the best in the Reds. Hopefully, they don't buck that particular trend.